Saturday, May 30, 2009

Point Reyes

Before the recent trip to California and points northward, I had never heard of Point Reyes. Or, maybe I had heard of it but didn't know how to pronounce it or whether it was in Maine or Swaziland. I'm still not sure how to pronounce it (Ray's?), but I know exactly where it is. On the map it seems near San Francisco, so it fit with our plan to stay just north of the city so as to have time to make our plane the next day without rushing. We did some research en route, and the Point looked worthwhile.

To get out to Point Reyes, you drive through a series of ranches, all them dating from the mid 1800's and identified by letters: Ranch A, B, C and on to M. Lots of beef and dairy cows on rolling, heath-like hills with very few trees. The animal life on the point includes seals, sea lions, falcons, and numerous water birds such as murres, which nest on the rocks just off the coast. Earlier in the year, people flock to the area to see whales migrating. The geological formations are contorted and interesting, and the May wild flowers are profuse. The lighthouse, which has been there about a century and a half, is down almost at the base of the outermost point--low so as to be visible below the frequent fog. You climb down about 300 feet to get there. The fog horn blows constantly at regular intervals.

To drive from there to the airport, south of the city, it took a couple hours, longer than anticipated. It's a slow trip. For some thirty miles, the route winds along steep cliffs with the surging ocean far below--gorgeous but time-consuming. Fortunately, we allowed some leeway, so we had plenty to time to make our flight home.

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