Day Trip to Point Reyes, California
There are times when one lives almost entirely in the moment, and then there are memories that bear the certain tang of becoming sweeter another day. This was the day at Point Reyes. Those who think that the life of a traveler is always idyllic probably haven't been budget travelers or experienced sickness while on the road. On this particular day we were both more or less ill and were tempted to stay in bed, but Harmony (who felt worse than I did) was game for a day exploring the area just north of San Francisco so we hit the road anyway.
We stopped off at the point pictured just above because of how much the area reminded us of photos we've seen of Ireland and Scotland. The hills had a certain spare beauty with a green stillness that I've come to associate with the UK; it only remains to be seen whether or not our impressions are correct. Meanwhile we drove through redwoods, around hills and lakes, and slowly made our way to a little spit of land upon which Point Reyes Lighthouse rests.
The day before Pt. Reyes I was scooting around Google maps on my phone and noticed that we were going to drive right through the Inverness and Pt. Reyes towns. In the course of my zooming in and out on the route I found out that Cowgirl Creamery was going to be right in one of the towns we'd pass through. Someone, maybe the Pioneer Woman, had written a review about a triple-creme Gouda she'd had at Cowgirl Creamery and how the angels sang and the hills shouted for joy. Cheese pretty much makes me shout for joy too so we marked this place down for a stopover.
We almost fainted over the price, but we decided we might only have this chance once.
Our larder finally stocked we drove out to the Point. The drive was one of joy; we neared the ocean and the tang of salt began to impress our senses, the ranches made the place feel down-to-earth and homey, and the hills were alive.
The overwhelming sense this place gave me was that my perceptions of distance were an illusion. Sometimes I felt as if I spread out all over the space and would fall off the edge quickly, and other times that I could walk for miles in the fresh, clean air without encountering ocean. Because of the crumbly cliffs, we never strayed too close to the edges.
Calla lilies grew in the wild everywhere and I was charmed by them in a way the bouquets had never done.
The lighthouse is under a cliff of rocks down over which I cannot imagine hauling all the materials to build a lighthouse, but haul they did. This area was particularly treacherous before the advent of G.P.S because it is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest, sometimes reducing visibility to mere hundreds of feet. The Point Reyes headlands jut out to sea for a good 10 miles making this place the valuable location for a lighthouse to warn mariners of danger.
The area had to be blasted with dynamite to create a level spot for a building, and it took six tedious weeks to lower the materials from the top of the cliff to the lighthouse platform to construct the place. The Point Reyes lighthouse finally shone for the first time on December 1, 1870, years after the political and physical construction began.
I can believe it is the windiest spot. The wind whipped us around all day.
Then, we picnicked. Complete with the triple-creme Gouda it was a grand success, and we dined upon cheese, olives, bread, mango, hummus, carrots and chocolate. The air and green hills with a view of the ocean made us hungrier than feeling sick would normally allow and we enjoyed the food very much.
The ride home was less than fun, because the twists and turns made us both feel much worse again. We toughed it out though and were rewarded with a beautiful and cold sunset from Hawks Hill. It must be said that Harmony was an absolute trooper. I know she felt worse than I did and yet she helped make the experience of the day into a warmly memorable one. She's top notch.
The best part of the day? Sighting a whale at one of the lookout points over the Pacific. It surfaced a few times and then swam on and left us behind, thrilled. There were numerous signs saying that whales came through here several times a year but as we were on the fringe season I never expected to see one.
Sweet serendipity. Seeing a whale by the Point and a non foggy view of the Golden Gate. These are the little things that make the day for a traveler.