Visiting old friends in the Bay Area

I’ve been gone for a week, visiting my old haunts in California. And what gorgeous weather for enjoying old friends! First there was Point Reyes, just north of San Francisco, one of my favorite spots on the face of the earth. The day was warm—too warm for a jacket. I can’t remember that happening but once or twice in twenty years of frequent visits to Point Reyes. Here was the view of the Pacific from the Tomales Point Trail:

Tomales Point Trail

I bent to say hello to one of the few remaining summer holdouts, the California poppy. At Point Reyes the poppies are lighter yellow with a darker orange center. One petal of this one had been nibbled on:


North Beach was equally stunning, just miles of warm sand (warm sand? at Point Reyes?!) and surf. We lay down on our backs and dozed. I couldn’t believe on a Friday afternoon there weren’t more people taking a sick day:

North Beach

I dipped my fingers in the water: yep, still freezing cold. The North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands a couple months ago was a lot warmer!

On the drive out of the park, I spotted a gorgeous tree hung with moss. I wasn’t going to stop, but an instant later a young coyote sashayed across the road directly in front of us. We took the hint, stopped the car, backed up, and enjoyed the tree for a moment:

Moss-hung tree

The next morning I joined old friends and neighbors in Butters Canyon for Creek to Bay Day in Oakland, part of the California Coastal Commission’s annual Coastal Cleanup. Nearly a decade ago at our first canyon cleanup day, we pulled out enough appliances to fill a small apartment. Now, after nine years of people caring for the creek, the trash is scarce. Neighbors now work on creek restoration—clearing out invasives, like ivy, and planting native plants and flowers along the creek banks.

Butters Canyon cleanup

Later I took a hike through Joaquin Miller Park, where I revisited the special hush found under redwoods. The Big Trees Trail lies close to my former home in Oakland, and for a decade I hiked it often. The logs lining the trail are new—to keep the trampling of humans, dogs, and bikes to a limited area. These redwoods are second growth, after the original enormous trees, which in nineteenth-century shipping days were used to guide ships around lethal rocks in the San Francisco Bay, were cut down for construction.

Big Trees Trail, Joaquin Miller Park

A view of downtown Oakland and the bay capped a splendid weekend of sunshine and clear skies:

Oakland from the hills


4 Responses to Visiting old friends in the Bay Area

  1. Mimi Meredith says:September 24, 2009 at 8:10 am

    What a lovely way to start my day! Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos, Priscilla. The water off the coast of California is cooler than the water of the North Sea?! Who knew! Hope today is full of equal, if not similar, beauty for you!

  2. Annette says:September 24, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Hi Priscilla,
    Thanks for sharing your trip…Point Reyes has always been a particular favorite of ours. When my girls were little we were sitting (perhaps on the same beach) beach there and a mom and baby grey whale went playing past us, only about 50 yrds off the beach. We could almost feel the spray from their spouts! It has always been magical for us since then!

  3. Mimi Kusch says:September 24, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Next time we’ll go to Pt. Reyes together! It is my VERY favorist spot on earth….

  4. Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:September 26, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Yes, Point Reyes is wonderful every time I visit–even when the temp isn’t 70! I saw a mom and baby whale once just offshore from Limantour Beach–one of the highlights of my life. Mom opened her enormous mouth–wow!