After descending Mount Tamalpais, we took the Bolinas/Fairfax Road to the north. Now this is one of the best scenic back roads that you will ever find in California. It is magnificent. It is open from 9am to sunset and has wonderful views down to the ocean and the Bolinas Lagoon.
In front of us were a whole host of cyclists. We were going downhill and they were traveling fast. The road is very narrow with double yellow lines and as it was dangerous to overtake them, we traveled at their speed. It was no hardship as there was so much beauty to enjoy and, apart from being hungry, we were not in a hurry.
We came to a junction and the cyclists were congregated there. Now we could overtake but we didn’t know which way to go as there was no signpost. As we were heading for Bolinas, which is on the coast, we turned left. It was the right choice.
Eventually we hit Highway 1 and we crossed it and headed to Bolinas. Now Bolinas is a very special place. You will see no signs to it at all along Highway 1 because the locals remove them as soon as they are put up. This is not a place which the world has forgotten but more a place the locals want the world to forget. It is a truly unique, gentle place with a lot of color.
One of the first buildings you see, as you get close to the town, has a huge peace sign in front, which gives you an idea of what to expect. There are no parking lots around and you just park at the side of the road and walk. Lots of interesting buildings and shops but the local residents are the icing on the cake. There are a lot of places in the Bay Area where hippies of a certain age have made their homes but Bolinas must be the prime location. It is not unusual to see a group of locals gathered together chatting, playing instruments, singing or even dancing.
The first thing that catches your eye as you walk down the street is the art. We pass a fence lined with huge, bold canvases, which presumably are for sale. Just along the road is a building with large framed paintings of Bolinas views fixed to the wall with a collage of butterflies scattered over them. On the opposite side of the road are more paintings. This is a bright, beautiful place.
Our first stop was the Coast Cafe for breakfast (see earlier post). Afterwards we turned right and headed for the beach. We detoured down an alley towards the Bolinas Museum. The alley ends in a wonderful courtyard which is so peaceful. I love to sit here, on one of several benches, and watch the water feature. You cannot call it a fountain as it consists of a huge rock with a hole in the middle with water oozing out of the top and spilling down the sides. I have seen birds standing on top of the rock in the water. Just above the rock are several humming bird feeders and this is a great place to watch them feed.
From the courtyard are entrances to the Bolinas Museum which is housed in three different buildings. It doesn’t open until 10 so we will return later. Leaving the courtyard we turn right again and walk down the Wharf Road, past Bolinas Gallery and several shops, which are not open. On the other side of the road is the wide creek leading to the Bolinas Lagoon with wooden houses built on stilts over the water. Also on that side of the road is a seating area where there are always people meeting and talking. Today there was a guy doing wood carving, a lady with a guitar on her lap and a man feeding the seagulls. He threw food up in the air and the seagulls were making spectacular dives to catch it.
The road dead ends at the entrance to the beach. The first part of the beach is on the creek side. On the other side is another sandy beach and this is the end of Stinson Beach. The channel between is wide and fast flowing. There were people on the other side, so near but so far away. We meander down the beach and around the curve to the ocean. There were a few dog walkers around. In the summer it is not uncommon to see a variety of temporary structures at the top of the beach under the bluffs where people are ‘camping’, but none today.
In the distance we could see surfers and walked towards them. There were about 50 of them including one rowing a surf board. The surf is not too high here but the undertow looks dangerous. There were a number of small family parties sitting on the beach with children playing in the sand. At the top of the beach was a strange wooden sculpture which, to me, sums up Bolinas.
There was a boat launch here so we walked up it and back into town along Brighton Road and went back to visit the museum. First we saw the History museum and then the Photographic Exhibition and finished up in the Main Gallery at the Dan McCormick exhibition entitled ‘Sculpting the Land’. It was fascinating. Check out the museum’s website, or better still pay a visit to Bolinas and see it for yourself.
On that high note, it was time to get back to our car and drive home. It has been a very interesting day.