We actually booked our next campsite back in February. It was the only campground that we booked in advance because my friend, Lizzie, was coming to visit us on specific dates in June. My hope was to be able to stay in one of the state parks in Marin County (Samuel P. Taylor State Park or Tomales Bay State Park), but Olema Campground was the only one that had vacancies, and we booked it over four months out!
We were put in Site #144, a nice, shaded area located towards the back of the campground. It is difficult to REALLY know what you are getting when relying on websites. Pictures can be old and outdated. The clubhouse/registration area had seen better days, but the staff was quite friendly. The Post Office on sight had been closed for months due to flooding, and the repair work was slow moving. When I made the reservation back in February on the phone, I was told that our site was right near the water (Olema Creek). Well, the “water” was almost dried up, and many bushes and trees blocked us from it. Still, it was a nice, quiet spot toward the back of the campground. Our first night was quiet. The rest of the week, the place was filled with young campers.
The next morning, we picked up Lizzie at San Francisco Airport. We got her settled and then drove a short five minutes to the quaint little town of Port Reyes. We strolled about and found a bakery to die for. Liz would need to stop at this bakery every day she was here. The treats were to die for, and there was always a line.
One of the reasons that we picked Marin County was because our beloved Yoga Teacher, Natalie, had moved to the west coast many years ago. Liz and I used to travel two hours round trip to attend Natalie’s yoga classes in Central New Jersey before she moved out west. We always talked (teased) about having a girls weekend in California to visit with Natalie, and it finally happened. We were so lucky to be able to spend two days together with her, even though we didn’t do any yoga. The other reason we picked this location was because it is directly next to Point Reyes National Seashore, which was on my list of places to see while traveling through California.
A friend of mine had been to Point Reyes with her husband and said that they have the BEST fresh oysters that you shuck yourself. What I did NOT know about Olema Valley is that it lies directly on the San Andreas Fault, where the Pacific and North American continental plates meet. This is where the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake initiated when the peninsula leap 20 feet northwestward in less than a minute. They say it could happen again in 30 minutes or 300 years. Ouch. Scary.
Scott was our chauffeur and Natalie was our tour director. We started at Bear Valley Visitor Center to collect maps and some information. Then we drove on Sir Francis Drake Hwy toward the most western-tip of the peninsula, near the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Unfortunately, the access road to the lighthouse was closed, so we headed to Chimney Rock.
As we got closer, we were able to see Elephant Seals resting along the shore. They didn’t move very much, but they were most certainly alive. We got a close up view with Scott’s binoculars, but in the still photo they look like grey rocks or logs.
Our next stop was Drakes Beach. It was a beautiful, very private beach surrounded by rocky cliffs.
Scott decided to check out the water temperature for me.
We moved on to Hog Island so that I could indulge in eating the BEST oysters I have ever tasted! The gal demonstrated how to shuck the oysters, and, thankfully, Scott watched along with me. Then, they send you off with a rubber glove and tools. You can pretty much guess what happened next. I mean, just look at those tools!
The next day Natalie joined us again and we headed to Muir Woods National Monument. On the way, we pulled over to have our picture taken above Muir Beach.
When we arrived at the entrance to Muir Woods, the parking was full. (Again, you need to make a reservation in advance to park your car!) Scott dropped the three girls off so that we could have a little time together.
You can walk the paved Redwood Creek Trail (also called Main Trail) in less than an hour. You can also choose short, medium, or long loops off the main trail. We chose to take an out and back trail, Canopy View Trail, which was an easy dirt trail that gained elevation slowly with its many switchbacks.
Eventually, we needed to turn around and go back down to Main Trail. We continued into Cathedral Grove, which is considered a sacred place, as many of the Redwood Trees are between 600 and 800 years old.
Our chauffeur picked us up and we took a ride southeast towards Sausalito, a quaint Italian-flare village. We walked around Gabrielson Park for a bit, and then stopped to watch young people navigate their sailboats on a very windy day.
We had to say good bye to Natalie with a promise to be back again in the future.
The next day Scott, Liz and I headed to San Francisco. We talked about taking the ferry across the bay, but it was pretty windy and chilly. Instead, we drove over the bridge and parked for free at Crissy Field Center. Liz and I began our walk towards the Golden Gate Bridge.
We walked halfway across the bridge, enjoying the view but not the noise! Afterward, we joined up with Scott again and walked for a few miles along the water towards the piers. We got as far as Fort Mason and hopped on a cable car to Union Square.
Union Square is a miniature Times Square, filled with tourists, street musicians, and many places to shop. And, of course, we saw the same sign again that we have been seeing since arriving in California in early May. No worries. No big deal. It’s just not a sign that I have been accustomed to seeing having grown up on the north east coast.
Early the next morning, we drove Liz back to the airport. Scott and I returned to Olema Campground to pick up the trailer, and headed north. Our next stop is Redwood National and State Parks.