Saturday, January 1, 2011

Point Reyes National Seashore

While we were out in California, we decided to go to Point Reyes National Seashore, a place we had never visited before. My husband's sister and her family were our gracious guides.

Our first sightseeing moment was the Golden Gate Bridge. We stopped at the overlook on the north side and learning a few tidbits about the bridge, like it was built in 1937 and painted International Orange.

It was windy and raining, so we didn't stay long. But of course we (meaning compulsive me) had to take a few photos, and we had some willing models.

Our plan was to head up Highway 1 to the National Seashore, but that way was flooded, so we had to take an alternate route. The alternate route took us through a redwood tree grove (ah, those lovely trees!) and was quite scenic. I was really enjoying a total change of scenery, and cousin Lola was in the backseat, keeping Desert Girl and Desert Boy happily entertained.

When we got to the main visitor center, we looked at some of the exhibits, ate our picnic lunch, and then decided to head out to the lighthouse.

This was the view from the parking area at the lighthouse. The storm clouds just added to the dramatic scenery.
We found a short trail that went to a viewpoint, and took it to stretch our legs.

We were glad to have rain gear!

Ruby and her mom.

The ocean was a long way below us, but its effect on the landscape and vegetation was obvious. The vegetation was fairly short, having adapted to a rather harsh climate.

Next up was the trail to the lighthouse.

The direction of the prevailing wind was obvious by the lean of these trees. Ruby looks like she's enjoying a walk in the park!

Some black-tailed deer were munching on the vegetation, not particularly afraid of human visitors.
Then we got to a tiny visitor center and a set of stairs leading to the lighthouse, set on the cliffs below.

Not too many people were braving the weather, so we nearly had it to ourselves, even though it was a weekend. And the sun came out for a few brief moments.

It was about a 300 foot descent to get to the lighthouse, over 300 stairs.

The foghorn and light were automated years ago and are now housed in this little shack. Not nearly as picturesque as a real lighthouse!

Due to the height of the cliffs, they didn't need to build a tall lighthouse. In fact, it was a challenge to get all the materials to this location. In addition, they had no fresh water source except for what fell from the sky, so they built a cistern and collection basin.

It would have been a rather lonely life as a light house keeper, and I think I might have gone slightly mad seeing the ocean but not having an easy way to get down to it.

My brother Ed enjoyed the scenery, too.

After checking out the area, it was time to head back up. I had Emma in the front carrier, so I was ready for a good cardio workout.

And up. They had painted numbers on the steps so you knew how many more you had to go.

On one step I found this neat little snail.

It sure was a strange-looking creature!

We got to see the beach to the north again on the trek back to the parking area, along with the slug-like elephant seals that were on the beach.

A break in the rain meant it was time for some goofing off in the parking lot.

Emma was fascinated with the dog.

After a quick snack, we decided to head to the beach, where dogs were allowed (they weren't allowed on trails in the national seashore).

This was some of the landscape we drove through to get there, green pastures with lots of cows. Ranching was a historical use of this area, and many ranches are still in operation within the national seashore.

Some of the cows were dairy cows, while others were beef cows.

We parked in a huge parking lot and were virtually the only vehicles. Apparently there's a lot more visitation in the summer!

Despite it being December and wearing winter coats, some of us still had to take off our shoes and socks and run through the sand!

Desert Boy and Lola decided to play the wave game, trying to just let their feet get wet.

The shore was a little on the steep side, so it was hard to judge how big the waves would be.

They got some good exercise running back and forth.

Desert Boy was absolutely fascinated with the waves. After all, he doesn't get to spend much time at the ocean.

He was spellbound.

Will my toes get wet?

And to see the action, click on the video below.

Before we left the beach, it was time for a family photo.

Thanks for the good memories!


The Incredible Woody said...

Oh my, what a beautiful place!! Desert Boy is just about as brave as I am when it comes to that cold, cold water:)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing as always! When I showed Ruther the snail, he smacked his lips together and said we needed to have escargot again soon! I definitely wouldn't want to work at the lighthouse either, but it was a dramatic location! Desert Boy was funny on the beach!

jhami said...

I love point reyes!!!! I would the combination of the forest/mountain/ocean scenery.... Great photos and I'm sure great memories!

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