Archive for December, 2015

The South part of the North Coast

December 28, 2015

Monday, 28 December 2015

Hotel breakfast is only at 8, and we’re morning people. Moomph! — as I said before. This morning, we went to Lundy’s Home Cooking, which opens at the far more reasonable hour of 6. Much better.

Ok, what shall we do with the day? Jacky’s leg is still sore, so nothing very dramatic. We decided to visit Muir Woods, famous amongst tourists. We haven’t been there for at least 20 years, maybe 30. Early on a weekday morning? Not too much of a crowd when we arrived, but filling up by the time we left.


All right, pretty nice, I have to admit it. Of course, there is competition for best redwood area in the world: Purisima Creek, Peters Creek, and an area near Felton whose name escapes me at the moment. All of it nearby, however, and the others have the merit that their paths are not paved (not even with boardwalk, which describes much of Muir Woods), nor do they get constipated with millions of visitors.


As well as the big, the little things are pretty interesting, too.


I tried several experiments with sunlight beaming through the forest.



This under-exposed shot is maybe the best.


From Muir Woods, we went on out highway 1, stopping first at Stinson Beach.


The signs all request parallel parking, and no one parks parallel. Including us. Having our butts out into the roadway is a way to slow down the through traffic, I suppose.


We wandered the town, which doesn’t take long, then went on.


Stopped at the visitor center of Pt Reyes national seashore, where we made sandwiches from bread and deviled ham, then went for a stroll out Bear Creek trail, not too far, not too steep. Very pretty.


On yet again, this time to Pt Reyes station, where we thought we might find a sunny spot and mellow out, maybe read our books or something. Unfortunately, just not sunny enough, not warm enough to do without the sun. So we wandered the town a little, then returned to San Rafael just about in time for a couple of brews.


Jacky says this is where you would go for meadow muffins.




Another good day.

Cataract trail, Alpine lake

December 27, 2015

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Jacky’s leg was still sore, so she entertained herself in San Rafael today while I went hiking. Drove to Fairfax, then south on Bolinas road, to park at a hairpin just beyond the Alpine lake dam.


The Cataract trail comes down just to the right of this inlet, close by Cataract creek. I was here once before with my Ericsson friend Brian, but it has been quite a while.


Very pretty,  very difficult. The trail runs right along the creek in a steep gorge.

IMG_0264This is a view looking up from some random point on the trail. Timber steps, lots of them. Below, the view looking down from the same point, stone steps, many of them higher. All of them wet and of concern against slipping, especially on the descent.






It really does just keep going, up and up and up. All pretty, all steep.


Eventually we top out at Laurel Dell picnic area, and things level out. Well, level is by comparison with where we just came. Lots more people up here, having walked from a parking area along the road that goes up Mt Tam.


I went as far as the road, then looped around and went down Benstein (sic) trail, then Kent trail, all the way to the Alpine lake water’s edge. From there it’s a grunt back up the grade on Helen Markt trail to rejoin the Cataract trail and head down.

Very nice country, very nice day.

China Camp state park

December 26, 2015

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Breakfast at the hotel is only at 8 — moomph! — so it was about 9 by the time we got on our way. China Camp state park today, an area we’ve seen on the map, but never visited.

We parked at the north end, took the upper trails to the south (without a map, which was something of a nuisance). A couple of very steep sections, one up, the other down, but we survived.


Unexpected to come upon a nicely decorated Douglas fir right along the trail in the middle of nowhere. Who would have thought!


And Jacky tells me there’s a selfie of Dave in the red ball.

Jacky’s leg was hurting by the time we got down to the shore, so she stayed there while I went back to get the car. Then we spent another hour or so mellowing out at various places along the shoreline road. Starting with the old China camp, once home to about 500 Chinese who made their living catching bay shrimp, drying it, and shipping it to China.







This is presumably where Wile E. Coyote tends bar.





Back into San Rafael, where we wandered off to Pizza Orgasmica for brews and pizza. As to orgasms, well, no more than the usual number when we eat pizza.

Good night, and good grief!

Christmas, San Rafael

December 25, 2015

Christmas, Friday, 25 December 2015

We are getting away for a few days. But not being the type to spend all day in the car, we only came to Marin, specifically San Rafael. We haven’t been north of the Golden Gate for years.

No point in getting there early, so we turned off at Tennessee Valley road to explore the Golden Gate national recreation area. Chilly day, but sunny and clear. We wore jackets until we had gained a couple hundred feet of elevation and warmed up.


Views of the north bay area in pretty much all directions. Very nice!



Not so nice, San Quentin federal prison. (They call it a penitentiary, but I have my doubts about the penitence of its occupants.)


Not crowded, but there were others on the trail, mostly hikers but a few mountain bikies as well.


Mt Tamalpais over there.


The trail down into Muir Beach is called Green Gulch. We thought about driving over there later, but it turned out that left turns are not permitted from Tennessee Valley road onto Highway 1, and it wasn’t worth the trouble to find a place to turn around after having turned right.


Great texture on the ocean.


And this is probably the clearest view I have ever had of the Farallons. Very clear day.


Downtown San Francisco visible through a gap in the hills.

Beautiful day, beautiful hike.


We had parked near the stables, where a couple of women were training a couple of horses. I’d say the horses were having a terrific time.

The hotelier phoned to see what time we would arrive, so the staff could knock off early. Because we couldn’t easily drive over to Muir Beach, we just went on to San Rafael. Staying at the Panama Hotel, a funky, strange place. Our room is called Honeymoon, but the room two doors down is called Bordello. Bathtub-shower in the corner of our room.

Of course, we went out to explore the town. By and large, the restaurants that are open today are Asian of one kind or another. We stopped in a pub, but it was crowded and loud, not our kind of thing. Walked and wandered, came upon some wonderful shell sculptures at a store called Namaste.





The upper-crust Thai restaurants closed at 3 and didn’t re-open until 5, and we were hungry. Eventually found a durchgehendes Thai restaurant, hole in the wall, pretty good, pretty inexpensive. Stopped at a 7-11 on the way back to the hotel for a Lagunitas Imperial stout, which we enjoyed in our room.

Nice day!

Saratoga Gap volunteer project

December 5, 2015

Saturday, 5 December 2015

I like to get up and get going, so I stopped at Rancho San Antonio to work on star thistle before going on to the 9:30 volunteer project at Saratoga Gap open space preserve. Which, by the way, was at the bottom of the hill, not the top, along Stevens Canyon road. There were two from the open space district, and three volunteers, the real hard core. We worked on broom, ivy and yellow star thistle.


A creek draining down through some old-growth redwoods. Very pretty.


Full of ladyfinger ferns, among many other vegetables.

There is an orchard on the property, fruit of various kinds, and a house whose cellar I’m told was once a cidery or winery and speakeasy. There is also an old swimming pool, with a foot or two of water in the deep end.


Newts get into the swimming pool and can never climb out. So we checked it out, found one, and returned it to the nearby creek. Our good deed for the day.




And we found what I believe is a goats’-beard fungus. Very classy!

Along with what I’m told is a year-round creek, spilling water onto a stone that it has polished to a mirror finish over the decades.

Nice day. Hard work, poison oak, tired and sore, and of course happy.