On Monday morning we drove north from San Francisco along CA-1 again, this time to Muir Woods, followed by a stop for lunch in Stinson Beach, and from there on out across Point Reyes to the Point Reyes Lighthouse.
Muir Woods is an amazing place, an old-growth coastal redwood forest, one of the few remaining in the San Francisco area. The 295 acres of forest were donated to the federal government in 1908 and declared a national monument, which was named after naturalist John Muir.
The well-maintained trails, with occasional bridges crossing a creek, are a joy to walk through. It's also a particularly peaceful and quiet place to wander around, at least this time of year when the crowds are thin.
One thing you certainly want to do every once in a while in a place like Muir Woods is look up.
We stopped to check out the Visitor Center - they have a bunch of carved wooden bears out front.
Apparently they also have a problem with people who don't understand that it's not a good thing to feed the wildlife. I can't quite place it, but something about this sign looked vaguely familiar to me.
After our little walk in the woods it was time to find some lunch. We drove north along the Coast Highway CA-1 to Stinson Beach, where we had a nice lunch at the Breakers Cafe. It's a long drive out across Point Reyes to the very end of the point, where the lighthouse is located. It was pretty clear inland, with just a little haze to diffuse the sunlight, as we drove along Bear Valley Road. As we got closer to the coast the fog started getting thick.
There is a series of about 12 ranches stretching along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard as you approach the lighthouse, named A Ranch, B Ranch, C Ranch and so on. We stopped for a bit to check out some of the cows at one of the ranches. Number 173 seemed quite curious and friendly.
It's a bit of a hike from the parking area to the top of the steps that lead down to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, and the fog was really thick. We saw several deer, and no other people, along the road.
To get to the Point Reyes Lighthouse you walk down a little over 300 steps from the upper station. We started down those steps at around 4:00pm.
Heather kept going, while I stopped to take pictures.
Heather and I visited here during our honeymoon almost 18 years ago. I don't recall the climb being any easier then, but it is well worth the effort. Besides, it's all downhill to the lighthouse. The Point Reyes Lighthouse was built in 1870, and retired from service in 1975 when the U.S. Coast Guard installed an automated light. Point Reyes is said to be the windiest place on the Pacific Coast, and the second foggiest place on the North American continent. It was certainly foggy and windy when we were there.
The first-order Fresnel lens of the Point Reyes Lighthouse is divided into 24 vertical panels which direct the light into 24 individual beams.
The counterweight and gear mechanism, which is wound by hand, rotates the 6,000 pound lens at a constant speed of one revolution every two minutes. It had to be rewound every two hours.
Of course, now we had to get back up those stairs.
It was nice of the Park Service to number them.
Along the way there are a few motivational plaques, placed on convenient little landings with benches.
It was getting dark by the time we got back to the car, and as we were driving back out towards the Coast Highway through one of the ranches we ran into (well, almost anyway) an old friend.
Okay, so I don't think that was actually Number 173, but they do look kind of look alike, and it does make for a better story.
Click here to see more images from Muir Woods and Point Reyes, including the Point Reyes Lighthouse, taken during our California Coast Road Trip in November of 2012.