Saturday, May 28, 2011

Point Reyes

We spent Memorial Day weekend in Point Reyes. About 30 miles north of San Francisco, the Point Reyes National Sea Shore is separated from the continental United States by the San Andreas fault! It is a haven for cheese, oysters, and some of California's cleanest beaches.

These bottles greet visitors arriving at the Bear Valley Visitor center. They are filled with the plastic bottles collected in one year (2010) on Point Reyes beaches. These meta bottles are an art installation by Richard James designed to bring awareness to the number of single-use disposable water bottles. These remind me of Chris Jordan's photos of plastic swallowed by baby albatrosses on the Midway Atoll. We recently saw these at the San José Museum of Art; you can see these disturbing images here.

In only a few minutes on the trail, we leave the reminders of human consumption behind. Pleasantly, the crowds at the visitor's center seem to disappear too.

Fortunately I also remember to look down.

The trail continues to delight.

Brian attempts to explain the delightfulness:

Do you get it?

I am more concerned with whether I should tie my fleece around my waist...

...or fling it over my shoulder:

Satisfied that both fashion choices work, I turn back to documenting the magnificent landscape. The light patterns along the trail are fascinating.

Once again, looking down at the trail is rewarding: we discover we have reached the top of Mt. Wittenberg:

Brian wonders if this is the promised view.

Actually, he is telling me to turn around to see the Pacific Ocean.

The view from the the alpine meadow is enthralling, so we decide to stay for a while.

I observe Brian's snacking undetected.

He has no idea he is under surveillance.

I bask in the glory of the Alpine meadow,

and demonstrate yet another option for wearing the fleece.

The trail back seems particularly lush.

After our morning hike, we decided to get closer to the ocean, and headed to Limantour Beach. The hike to the beach takes us over Limantour Spit and Limantour Estero, a haven for birds and other wildlife.

Though there are many people there, the beach seems almost empty (and yes it is quite clean).

Brian decides to try the water.

I am content to stay dry.

The wind is quite strong.

On our way out of Limantour Beach, we notice two Tule Elk grazing.

Point Reyes has miles and miles of beach, which can be seen from the trail to the Point Reyes lighthouse (built in 1870!).

The wind on this trail is strong too, even the trees feel it.

Due to the heavy winds, the staircase to the lighthouse is closed, saving us 308 steps down, and 308 steps back up!

Even though we didn't take the stairs, beers seem well-deserved.

We stayed at the Olema Inn. This is the view from our room;

The next morning, we head north to the actual town of Point Reyes.

We then headed to Dillon Beach.

Brian confirms the water is cold.

And strikes a pose.

I can still see you.

It's hard to leave a place so beautiful.

But oysters call!! On the way home we stop at Hog Island Oyster Company.

A popular option is to reserve one of several charcoal grills and barbecue your own oysters, or you can sit at common picnic tables...

...enjoy the view...

and let the experts do the work!

We order a platter of raw oysters, and then a second platter.

But the highlight is the barbecued oysters. Cooked for a few minutes with garlic, butter and chipotle, they are fantastic.