We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge heading north out of San Francisco en route to Point Reyes National Seashore. I looked up at the heights of the architectural wonder and prayed that an earthquake wouldn’t hit.
Once across the big red bridge, we decided to take highway 1 up the coast. We twisted and turned up the road, catching glimpes of the vast Pacific along the way.
We then descended, twisting and turning our way into Stinson Beach, a small town with a nice, wide, ocean front sand patch.
We ate eggs, bacon, hash browns and burgers at a local semi-yuppie,country style breakfast joint before heading out onto the beach. There, we heeded the warning sign: There was a shark attack last year. (The north Pacific is perfect cold water breeding habitat for the infamous Great White.)
We kept our toes in our shoes and our shoes out of the water. The day’s temperature was a pleasant 60+ degress Fahrenheit, not the most ideal temperature for a dip in the ocean.
Filled our lungs with the salty air and did handstands on the beach. The day was young.
Back in the car, we headed north again. We stayed on route 1, missing the turnoff for Point Reyes. But, as traveling can teach you, a wrong turn most often leads to unsuspected surprises.
We found ourselves cruising along Tomales Bay. The landscape was rural green, cattle grazing country with rolling hills nestled up against a placid bay fished by oyster harvesters. Several small restaurants and bars posted signs offering fresh oysters. At one point, there was a pile of oyster shells 3 feet deep and more than 30 feet long. I wondered if the oysters were being overharvested by the local industry/economy.
Small houses that looked more like seasonal cabins sat on the water’s edge. We romanced the idea of living in one of them and saying “adios” to the world for a little while. We would have our pile of books and writing necessities. A few bags of rice and tea would serve as sustenance.
Then we laughed and decided a comfortable bed and fine food might serve our needs a little better at this point in life.
Eventually, we turned around and made our way for Point Reyes again.
This time we didn’t miss the turnoff.
For several miles we meandered through land that reminded me of the countryside of Northern Ireland. We saw deer feeding on the grasses in the distance. The sun shone soft and warm.
We came to cars parked along the side of the road, signaling to us that we were at the Point Reyes Lighthouse. We found a spot and pulled off.
We came here not so much to see the 19th century lighthouse situated on a precipitous point on the cliff along the rocky shore. Instead, we hoped to see gray whales on their winter migration to the warmer waters off the southern Baja California coast of Mexico.
We kept a watchful eye on the grey-blue waters, hoping to see a spout of water burst into the air. But, we saw nothing. There were no whales to be seen that day.
Tired and yearning for a siesta before a night of Spanish tapas and dancing in the city, we headed back towards the car.
Dusk was settling in when we crossed back over the Golden Gate. The Saturday night traffic was heavy.
I wanted to be in one of those little houses on the shore of Tomales Bay with my pile of books and writing necessities.
The paella was ok.
(written 26 November 2000)