A Day on the Coast: From Mom’s Camera

Northern California is an amazing place to visit.  It is even better when we are hanging out with my favorite people. Terry and I spent a long weekend visiting Meg and Jake’s favorite places in Sonoma and Marin Counties.

While Jake worked Friday, Meg, Terry and I loaded up Meg’s Jeep Patriot and our cameras and headed for the coast.  Well, I don’t want to overstate this, Terry and Meg have real cameras, I only had my iPhone, but I was anxious to see what kind of photographs I can get out of my newly upgraded iPhone camera.

Our first–unexpected–stop happened when we happened on this great tree by the road. We stopped, turned around and drove back for our first photos of the day.  It isn’t just a great gnarly tree, it is tree that gives new meaning to the concept of having a rocky start in life. Meg’s photo was on our blog yesterday.  Here’s mine.

Minutes later we arrived at Point Reyes Station, a lovely little town near, but not on, the coast.  It’s population is either 340 people or 848 people, depending on which source you believe.  It is such a great old town. I mean, when is the last time you saw an automobile repair shop with an entire row of deer heads on the wall?

There was a community garden and an organic market that surprised me by offering beautifully arranged produce, at least some of which was from–Mexico.

Meg and Terry were looking for tasty beverages while I focused on the wonderful “Born in the USA” look of this little town.  We happened on the Cowgirl Creamery that actually makes cheese right in Point Reyes Station. The cheese and the bread they sold were as visually appealing as they were delicious. We purchased a bag of sample sized cheese for under $15.  The cheeses were a hit at dinner.

With regret, we left this great town and continued on.  Ultimately, we arrived at Bodega Bay, well-known for its beauty, but also as the location for Alfred Hitchcock’s wonderful movie, “The Birds.”  The Tides restaurant is still serving tourists, and the gulls continue to sit on the picnic tables and stare down from the eaves of the buildings.  Not hard to see how a creative mind could see them as menacing. But they are actually delightful and add to the atmosphere.

The views were beautiful.  We were ready to try to find a way to move here just for the privilege of waking up every morning with one of the world’s great scenery.  Unlike many of the places we visit, mile high condos have not yet spoiled the view.  There were actually modest cottages within a block of the water.  Who wouldn’t want to want to be “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay,” if the bay was in Northern California.

We headed to the Bodega Bay marina. Obviously, just around the corner, but it had its own personality.  Commercial fishing is serious business here. Even the boats have just the right amount of rust to be authentic workings boats.

The best of the “fishing” was for crab.  We stopped at the Spud Point Crab Shack crab.  Just about all it sold was crab, crab and crab.  But why not!  It was freshly caught and it was wonderful. We shared a sandwich and were on our way.

The area had fun with its heritage.  Carved wooden sailors graced more than one establishment and gave a festive air to the marina.

Our last stop along the coast was Bodega Head.  It is a beautiful view of the ocean and is considered a major destination for anyone who wants to watch for migrating whales.  We looked, without success.  But we watched the waves as they came in over the rocky beach.

It was a great day on the coast, and we’ve had a great time comparing my iPhone pictures with the pictures from Meg’s camera.  Next, it’s off to the wine country.

Hiking Bodega Head

Meg has a J.D. in Urban, Land Use and Environmental Law. She focuses on maintaining the balance of community and environmental health, healthy lifestyles, and encouraging sustainable living.

The exploring continues! Yesterday, my husband and I drove out to Bodega Head, a peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean about 30 minutes west of Petaluma. The headlands are a beautiful place to hike around for the afternoon, and even do some whale watching. The hike around the outside loop of Bodega Head is about 2 miles, with an additional mile hike to the north. Of course, if you want to do some serious hiking, you can just keep going along the Sonoma Coast!

Our hike yesterday was lovely. The weather was perfect. 60s and sunny. There was a bit of wind for part of the hike, but overall it was quite nice.

Our first stop was the whale watching point, where local “whale watch” volunteers were waiting to answer any questions and help with whale spotting. We saw a few spouts of water blowing up out of the surface, but did not see any tails. Still, it was an exciting experience.

As we continued around Bodega Head, we saw beautiful cliffs, listened to seals and birds in the distance, and saw the “Hole in the Head” dug by PG&E in the 1960s. They had planned to build a nuclear plant on Bodega Head, so they dug a huge hole that would eventually house a nuclear reactor. However, the location of the hole is essentially right on top of the San Andreas fault line, so continuing the project would have been a horrible idea. The hole eventually filled up with rainwater and now serves as a freshwater pond for local wildlife.

Almost at the end of our hike, we had wandered off the beaten path and onto a sparsely used trail. We were still close to the road and the main trail, with the ocean in the background, and what did we see? A family of deer! We must have seen each other at the exact same moment, because right as I jumped up and said “Oh!” (to which Jake immediately thought I had seen something scary, like a snake!), all four deer turned their heads toward us with their ears straight up in the air. All six of us stood perfectly still for at least 30 seconds before any of us moved. As if I thought it would help, I started talking to the deer like I talk to my kids (our greyhounds) when I want them to be calm. Somehow, it worked, and though they wouldn’t let us get close, they did not run away. Eventually, we moved around them, even further off the barely there trail, and they continued grazing nearby. It was beautiful.

Bodega Head is definitely worth visiting. We only hiked about 3 miles, but it you can easily make it longer or shorter depending on where you want to go. Who knows where we’ll venture off to next time!