Another beautiful spring day in sunny California. Our main destination today is Franklin Point on the San Mateo Coast. As we drove towards the coast on Highway 92, the sun was rising. The slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains were bathed in a reddish tint and everything looked glorious.
(Click the photos for larger versions)
After breakfast at the 3-Zero Cafe next to Half Moon Bay Airport, we stopped off at Pillar Point Harbor. We were looking to buy some fresh fish straight from the boats. At first I was surprised at the number of people around but then realized it was a group gathering for a whale watching boat trip. Now is a great time of the year for such a trip as the female gray whales are close to shore escorting their young calves north.
We wandered down the wharf looking to see if any boats were selling fresh fish. There was only one boat open for business but they only had Dungeness Crabs on offer.
It was very pleasant walking down the ramps and floating wharves, strolling around looking at all the fishing boats. These are definitely working boats with their decks littered with ropes, pontoons, crab cages and rusty equipment. Boats gently nudged the edge of the wharves as they rose and fell with the swell and we swayed slightly with the motion.
These fishermen have been experiencing hard times recently with the closure of the salmon fishing season for the last two years. There will be limited commercial fishing this year (just eight days in May) so soon they will be able to catch at least a little of the local king salmon, which is the best salmon ever.
Onto our main destination today – Franklin Point. I know it is only a few weeks since our last visit but we were anxious to see whether the path to the beach had been restored. I want to sit on our favorite seat and gaze out across the ocean. With any luck we should spot a few whales today. Passing Pescadero State Beach we noticed, a group of people standing on the bluffs. Whale watching maybe? Then we noticed a tour bus in the parking lot. There is going to be a lot of people around today.
We did consider stopping at Pigeon Point Lighthouse but the parking lot is not very large and it was packed, plus cars were parked along the side of the road. We did stop a few hundred yards south of the lighthouse so Tom could take a picture of the lighthouse with the wild flowers in the foreground. I stayed near the car and kept my eyes peeled for water spouts. There were several boats some way offshore. They could have been fishing boats or whale watching tours. It was a beautiful spot. The view was spectacular and the sound of birds singing was background music.
Between the lighthouse and Ano Nuevo is the parking place for Franklin Point. There were no other cars there. I set off down the path, watching a hawk hunting to my right. On the path I spotted a fat orange and black furry caterpillar. Since our last visit there must have been some rain because the path was quite muddy in places.
Over the last dune and where the path abruptly ended on our last visit in February, there is now limited access to the beach. It is a steep slide down. I was grateful to arrive in one piece but how was I going to get back?
It was good to be there on the beach with the seat within walking distance. The tide was high and it didn’t look possible to get to the point along the beach where there is a path to the seat. When I reached the rocks at the end of the beach there was no way over the rocks so I went back up the beach looking for a way round. There was a tent pitched just above the high tide mark and by the amount of personal possessions scattered around it almost looks like somebody has taken up residence rather than an overnight stay.
Once on top of the bluff, I followed a beaten path. Several times I had to turn back and look for an easier path but eventually I made it. At last I was on the final boardwalk to our favorite seat. Glancing back towards the entrance to the beach, I saw Tom and we waved to each other. I settled down on the bench for a serious whale watching session. This is the perfect time and the weather is just right as well.
I didn’t have to wait long. Soon I was spotting small spouts and the occasional bigger spout. You can
guess how thrilled I was. Every so often I would say ‘yes’ out loud or even ‘wow’. A couple of times I saw a tail rise out of the water. I imagined there was a pod of killer whales out there hunting for the vulnerable calves. The water spouts could not be seen with the naked eye from where I sat but the binoculars brought everything into view. Pigeon Point lighthouse is further out, that may be the perfect spot for whale watching.
Tom joined me and for the next hour we stayed there – Tom taking photos, just relaxing and occasionally using the binoculars. Me – I was whale watching, writing and relaxing. It was the best of times.
Eventually we stirred ourselves and made our way back to the car. Tom had found an easier route to the seat so we followed that. There were quite a few people on the main path leading back to the highway, some people were sitting on the bluffs and looking out to sea. Everybody was enjoying this wonderful location.
On the way back to Highway 92, we stopped in Half Moon Bay to buy some fresh salmon. It was from Alaska so not quite as fresh as it would have been if we had been able to buy straight from the fishermen but until the real stuff arrives it will have to do. Along with some asparagus we bought from the shop next door, we have all the ingredients for a great BBQ.
April 27 2010 05:19 pm | Special Places