Visiting Point Reyes and Half Moon Bay

Point Reyes National Seashore

We Felt the Pull

of the Pacific, while caring for the two cats in Sonoma, and decided a trip to Point Reyes National Seashore was in order. I’ve always wanted to go and the time was now.  

We took the long drive through the hills and found the entrance. Most of the information you see about this park includes the lighthouse. Those always look so great in photos.

We studied the map of the park and chose the furthest point. Well, that’s where the lighthouse was! On the map, it’s the road furthest on the left side down to the point. Boy, was that a long drive: we started at the north end and went all the way to the southern tip. 

Point Reyes National Seashore

Hint – Visit in Spring!

Since it was late summer, all the hills were brown and didn’t stand out much. We’d seen a lot of dry countrysides the last couple of years and hadn’t signed up for more that day. We almost turned around, but we persevered, driving

Point Reyes National Seashore

through the endless cattle fields and all the way to the lighthouse parking lot!

Point Reyes National Seashore

We’re Glad We Kept Going

All the neat parts were in the last mile. You have to walk the last half mile up hill in the roaring wind!

Point Reyes National Seashore

Windy, I’ll say. Look what happened to those trees. The wind blows up from the ocean, over the hill and tilts everything eastward, even the visitors walking to the lighthouse.

Point Reyes National Seashore

This photo gives you an idea of how far above the shoreline we were, and how cloudy it was.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Shelter comes at a premium around there as the coastline is raw and rugged. We’re not sure why someone built this little structure. Must have seemed important at the time.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Maybe it was as a protection from that wind!

Point Reyes National Seashore

Ready For a Climb?

If you want to get to the lighthouse, it’s up at first, then down. At the end of the hike up from the parking lot, you can see the lighthouse, just barely.

Usually, we find lighthouses at the highest point. Not here though. This one is 500 feet from the top. Don’t know why.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Here’s a look east at the shoreline inside San Francisco Bay, just barely, sheltered from the ocean.

Point Reyes National Seashore

If you turn and look north, you’ll see one very long stretch of beach. It went on for miles and miles, further than you can see.

Point Reyes National Seashore

The view above is to the east, towards San Francisco. It’s called Drakes Beach, and we set off to get a close-up look.

Point Reyes National Seashore

There were other people at this beach, but not many. On the east side of the peninsula, it was sheltered and calm.

Point Reyes National Seashore

All in all, this wasn’t our favorite place. And no, we didn’t explore extensively. Maybe we’ll have to return one day and try again. 

For our journey home we decided on an alternate route along the coast. It was gorgeous! 

Highway 1 California

It starts climbing a bit and passes through the little tourist mecca of Stinson Beach.

view of Stinson Beach from above

After that, it goes nuts and ascends abruptly into Mount Tamalpais State Park. We didn’t stop – but the views were out of this world.

mountainous road from the coast

At various parts, the road seemed out of the world too: who needs guard rails anyway? Especially with bicycles flying around your car, showing the way up and down the mountains. 

California coastline

Muir Woods National Monument

The road then turns away from the water, and a few miles inland we saw a sign for Muir Woods. We had been there once before and loved it and decided to visit again since it was right there.

Muir Woods National Monument

What we didn’t know was that it was a fee-free day at all National Parks and Monuments! The parking situation was unbelievable, and we almost just drove away.

Muir Woods National Monument

We usually try and hit the popular spots during the week when the crowds aren’t so enormous. But here we were and in we went along with lots of folks. This place is quiet, so quiet you can hear people talking. We’re always surprised to hear so many different languages spoken by the visitors: German and French, of course, but also a lot of others we had to guess about. No matter the mother tongue, these giant trees say something all of us can understand if we listen closely enough.

Muir Woods National Monument

We finally found a parking spot and walked the main trail. Of course, the redwoods were incredible, but everything was dry and dusty. Not our best day!

Muir Woods National Monument

Time For Another Outing!

While we were at our next house sit (the next post), we went west to the coast again and visited Half Moon Bay.

a pumpkin patchWe saw more pumpkin fields than anything else; apparently, Half Moon Bay has a strong connection to pumpkins! 

Half Moon Bay Beach

What’s a stop at a beach town without food? We found a little dive spot and tried the local eats.

Half Moon Bay Beach

South of town we took a hike in a city park along a trail by the shore, through a nature preserve and down to the beach, if you chose to go that far. We loved seeing the cliffs carved out of the hills by wind and water erosion. The few trees all pointed east. More of that wind we guessed.

Half Moon Bay Beach

We enjoyed the walk and the clear skies!

Half Moon Bay Beach

We drove through San Francisco on the way home but didn’t stop anywhere, well except a few dozen times in all the traffic jams. Over the Bay Bridge, we went, then through a long tunnel outside Oakland. Came out of that right in Walnut Creek, just north of our newest (for just a while) home.

Half Moon Bay Beach

Look carefully below, and you’ll see something unusual. Big city traffic can do strange things to people. But we’ve never seen someone decide to just stop driving and perch their car up on a pole, though all of us might have felt that way at times. How did they get that up there? People can be so creative and whimsical, right?

San Francisco scene

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