Salty marshes leading to untouched beaches with rolling waves….yellow, white and purple wildflowers tangling themselves in the breeze along the road…the lighthouse foghorn blowing steadily into the wind…a herd of elk barely visible as they roam through the afternoon fog.
Point Reyes. It’s magical.
After our trip to Half Moon Bay a few weeks ago, we’ve been more than ready to get back over the coast. Point Reyes is just north of San Francisco in Marin County. Though it’s only twenty miles to the city, it may as well be on another planet.
Our morning began, as all mornings should, by checking out the local bakery and bookshop before heading into Point Reyes National Seashore Park. I really can’t think of a better way to start a day than with a chocolate croissant on the way to the beach!
From the park entrance, we drove about 45 minutes to the Point Reyes lighthouse. The drive was one of the best parts of the day as we passed various bays (known for their good oyster beds) and countless dairies (Marin Co. is chock full of dairies producing some incredible cheese). The wildflowers along the road were so beautiful blowing in the breeze. Parts of the drive made me feel like we were back in the lowcountry of South Carolina with that wonderful salty smell of the marsh.
The lighthouse is known as the windiest point on the entire western coast of the U.S. We can attest to this! The winds that day were blowing consistently at 30 mph, and it was a crazy walk down the 308 steps to the actual lighthouse. Luckily, we enjoyed clear skies most of the morning and could see up and down the coast.
After sorting out our windblown selves (involving a lot of painful hairbrushing), we walked about a mile and half out to Chimney Rock where Drakes Bay meets the ocean. We were the only ones on the trail through the tall grass, with the still bay on our left and the ocean crashing against the rocks on our right. The colors here were incredible! Both the sky and the ocean were a perfect Crayola blue.
Charlie’s day was made even better when we saw some giant elephant seals sunning themselves on the beach far below us! The point at Chimney Rock is gorgeous and looks back on the white sandstone cliffs of Drakes Beach (on the bay) and towards the lighthouse in the other direction. There is a little white clapboard home with green shutters near the bay, and I so wish we could somehow get this family to adopt us. I’d put the coffee on every morning if they’re give me a bedroom overlooking the bay.
The fog was coming in when we got back to the car, and we drove on to the Tule Elk Preserve not sure what we’d actually be able to see. Many years ago, a small group of elk was brought to the park to try to preserve this certain species. There are now more than a hundred in the herd, and they roam free in the preserve above the ocean. Even though the fog was pretty heavy by now, we were so happy that it didn’t totally obscure our view!
Excited that we had now seen both seals and elk in the same day, we headed back to Pt. Reyes Station for dinner at the Station House Cafe. This restaurant uses all local ingredients when possible, including the most well-known local cheeses. Therefore, we really can’t be blamed that we ordered an entree of mac n’ cheese as an appetizer followed by cheeseburgers. It was all in the name of supporting small local farms!
Stuffed to the gills, we made the beautiful drive to Limantour Beach to watch the sunset. Though it was still too foggy for a good sunset, we did enjoy being the only people on the beach. We only spent a few moments there, but it’s solitary beauty was the perfect way to end the day.
Point Reyes is so varied that it’s really hard to pick any one feature as our favorite. The wildflowers, the salt water smell being carried on the wind, the rolling hills leading to secluded beaches with waves crashing on shore…all of it is worthy of its own trip, and we’re so blessed to have enjoyed it all in just a day. It’s as if God just couldn’t help Himself and spilled out every bit of His beauty on this place when He was creating the world – there’s no other explanation!