Thursday, December 22, 2016

Point Reyes & Bodega Bay - December 2016

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"Did you check the weather forecast?" the Lady asked Wednesday evening as she returned home from work. The weekend was on her mind. Would we be able to get away? There were two spots in Nevada we are anxious to explore.

"Yes," I answered. The storm is moving through Thursday night into Friday and then clear and cold."

"How cold?"

"I did a point forecast on the National Weather Service, high of 25° with an overnight low of 8°, Cold."

"Want to still go?' the Lady asked.

"Cold's okay. I don't like frozen gumbo that suckers you into driving roads and the day warms up just enough that you start breaking through the ice layer into the ooze below. Do you remember the christmas day drive to Ione?"

"Let's go to the coast!" the Lady quickly countered. "Let's go to Point Reyes."

We would try overnighting in the private campground in Olema near the Point Reyes National Seashore Visitors Center. I called the campground Thursday morning about reservations. My conversation with the woman that answered the phone was short and to the point. "A big rain storm is predicted for tonight," she said. "You need to call back tomorrow."

I called again Friday morning.

"You can come if you want and you like water and mud," the woman explained. "Every campsite is flooded. There is six inches of water in the office."

I offered her our best wishes for an easy clean up.

"Can we go?" the Lady asked when she arrived home early afternoon, the start of her winter break from school.

"Well," I said, "I checked the weather, lows in the upper 20's and highs in the 40' and we do not have reservations for a place to camp."

"Good!" the Lady said and smiled. "Let's go!"

We were off.

Sonoma County's Westside Regional Park at Bodega Bay has six first come first served non reservation sites. We stopped there first and found the campground close to empty. This was nice and we quickly settled in. The campground was quiet. The cold drove the few campers into their rv's and tents. We walked in the night down the center line of the Westside Road undisturbed in the dark. We woke well before dawn Saturday morning. The beautiful predawn light across Bodega Bay was a pleasant surprise.

The Lady wanted to "stretch our legs" some, "oil our joints" and hike out the 5 miles to Tomales Point.

The northern section of Point Reyes is a preserve for Tule Elk, one of California's two subspecies of elk.Tule elk roamed vast areas of California until brought to the brink of extinction. One small surviving herd was discovered in the 1870's and through the actions of the ranch owner, the species was saved.

The our two main feathered friends on our hike were Northern Harriers and ravens.

We were not alone on this popular trail but we found a lonely spot right on the point.

We relaxed and soaked in the sights, sounds, and smells of the grand Pacific Ocean.

It was a beautiful afternoon as we wandered back to the trailhead at the historic Pierce Point Ranch.

Our legs were stretched. Our joints were oiled. We had a relaxing stroll along California's north coast. We were so close to civilization, we did something unexpected. We celebrated with a wonderful dinner at Stellina in Point Reyes Station. We had first eaten here around 7 years ago shortly after they opened and were delighted with our dinners. It was an easy choice to return. We each started with a big bowl of their soup of the day, hot and satisfying with the outside temps already in the 30's. The Lady could not decide on what grilled vegetable plate to order so she ordered both. I decided on the fennel chicken. I'm a sucker for fennel. We shared of course and finished off with berry cobbler. What fun! We were hard pressed to remember the last time we had dropped a hundred bucks on a dinner out, but we were happy and so, so satisfied.

Westside campground was still near empty when we returned well after dark. It was a campground none the less, with neighbors, not our usual sought out solitude. We had a group to our south gathered around a campfire. Alcohol was involved and their conversation was punctuated continuously with the F word in all its varied forms. When one fellow managed to use it four times in one sentence, we considered presenting him with an award. We kept that idea to ourselves. The group to the north had friends over. Easy listening rhythm and blues featuring guitar was their choice for recorded background music that grew louder as alcohol was consumed. We tried hard to control our laughter when one woman was lubricated enough to loudly sign along. We were surprised she did not set off coyotes to howling.

The cold and dark quieted the campground relatively early. We slept well. We woke early Sunday morning and enjoyed our warm bunk and the coming morning until the "Buster Episode" erupted. For story telling purposes, we believe it was the singing woman from the night before and she discovered her dog missing. Buster most likely evacuated the area during the evening singing but was not missed until a return to consciousness in the early morning. The woman was frantic. Screams of "Buster!!!!" were followed by explosive bursts of hand clapping. She headed north. Her man headed south, without the same enthusiasm and sans the hand clapping. The screaming faded into the distance and we don't know if they ever returned. Buster's fate remains a mystery. We hope he found a good home.

We walked south from the campground as we waited for sunrise. It popped up at 7:31 am (the photo has a time stamp. I do not own a watch).

A hawk was just as pleased as we were to watch the sunrise.

After a leisurely breakfast, we headed north on highway 1. Just north of Bodega Bay is Salmon Creek. The fishing boat that ran aground in September is still stuck on the beach. Emergency responders were bringing in a helicopter to medivac an injured surfer.

Goat Rock Beach, where the Russian River flows into the Pacific, is a favorite spot for us. One of the highlights are the Harbor Seals.   The Goat Rock area was the location for filming the final scenes of the movie The Goonies.

The area was delightfully quiet this Sunday morning.............................

........................except for the abundance of gulls and harbor seals.

It had all worked out nicely - just hopping in the truck and heading for the coast - and made for a great weekend. We survived and even thrived with our brush with civilization. We do not go through a single day without remarking to one another about how lucky we are and being thankful for it.

Where will the next adventure take us?


  1. Fine report, love the area by Point Reyes.

    1. Thank you, Bill! There is so much to see and learn about the area. We could spend weeks here.

  2. Thanks Ski.We have also eaten at that restaurant. I don't mind shelling out some bucks as long as the meal is good and a nice atmosphere. Next time we get to that area will have to try the Westside camp.
    Sometimes I think that civilization isn't all it's cracked to be.not much fun being around a bunch of alcohol over use people.
    We do like our wines but know when to be good neighbors.
    Thanks for the ride along to one of our favorite spots.
    We like that hike from the elk area to the point also.
    Merry Christmas Happy New Year from the Casa's.

  3. The only thing better than being lucky is being grateful for luck. And you two are making the most of it -- well done!

  4. Thank you for your sharing and your wonderful pictures. We be there this weekend.