Bean Hollow State Beach

Davenport coastline looking south towards Monterey

Davenport coastline looking south towards Monterey

It was a foggy morning when we set off from home for Bean Hollow Beach but the forecast said the sun would burn off the fog. We were slightly concerned that the Santa Cruz mountain range would be fog bound, which would have made the drive a little scary, but miraculously the fog disappeared as soon as we left the valley. In fact the drive over the mountains was wonderful with a perfect view of Monterey as we crested the summit.

(Click on the photos for larger versions)

Once again we must apologize for the lack of posts recently, due to bad weather over several weekends and an unfortunate accident. Both situations are much improved now I’m pleased to say.

Crossing over the tracks heading towards the ocean at Davenport, California

Crossing over the tracks heading towards the ocean at Davenport, California

After our fabulous breakfast at Zachary’s in Santa Cruz, we drove north on Highway 1. We stopped in Davenport because Tom had read somewhere that there were the remains of old pier in Davenport. We parked right opposite the Whale City Bakery Bar & Grill and walked towards the ocean. We soon came to the edge and looked down on a railway track. There was a worn path on the other side of the tracks and all we had do was to find the way to it. At the end of the parking area near a clump of trees we found shale like rock which looked a bit like a staircase so we climbed down, crossed the tracks and picked up the path on the other side. Soon we were at the edge of a steep cliff with wonderful views over a sandy beach and we could see Monterey in the distance. The coastline was spectacular but saw no sign of a pier. Further down I spotted someone sitting on the edge of the cliff with his hound by his side so I went to ask him about the pier. The guy was obviously a local with his dreadlocks, ruddy face, full beard, woolly cap and holding a large cup of coffee in his hands. He readily told us where the remains of the pier were, which was around the point to the north. The path was easy to follow but we stayed away from the edge of the steep cliff. As we walked there was a lovely smell but at first I couldn’t work out where it came from. Then I saw a big swathe of white alyssom and the penny dropped.

Three Pelicans gliding up the coast at Davenport, California

Three Pelicans gliding up the coast at Davenport, California

We spied the remains of the pier easily. Only three concrete supports remain. As we didn’t know the history, it was the first thing I checked when I got home. A whaling captain called John Pope Davenport (the town was named after him) built the first pier in 1867 at the mouth of what is now known as the Muddy Water Creek. Lumber was brought down from the hills and shipped to Santa Cruz a little way down the coast. When the steamers could no longer get alongside the pier due to the mud which was also being brought down from the hills, an extension was built to the pier but this did not solve the problem. An even longer pier was built later but that one was destroyed in a storm. (This information came from Wikipedia).

While Tom took loads of photographs, I sat on a concrete block on top of the cliff and contemplated the view. Strings of pelicans skimmed the waves beneath me and out at sea a group of small fishing boats kept me fully absorbed. It was bliss. The sun was warm with no wind to speak of. While I sat there only one person, a surfer, walked by. It was very relaxing and peaceful.

An hour later we were back of the road again driving towards Half Moon Bay. Along the way many cars were parked and surfers were either getting changed into their wet suits, walking towards the ocean with their boards or out on the water waiting for the next big wave. A drive on Highway 1 on Big Sur to the south is always wonderful but this drive to the north is even better in our opinion with it’s many accessible sandy beaches and each of them unique.

Bean Hollow State Beach along the San Mateo coast

Bean Hollow State Beach along the San Mateo coast

At 9:30 we arrived at Bean Hollow State Beach. I expected there to be a day charge to use the beach but I couldn’t see anywhere to pay. We walked to the sandy beach down a partly eroded path. Immediately the unusual honeycomb rock formations attracted our attention. I wandered off down the beach while Tom paused to take photos. There was so much to take in. Looking down at the sand I could see all kinds of tracks – birdlife, crabs and human – besides all the flotsam washed up on the beach like seaweed, shells and driftwood. By looking up I could take in the cliff face and then, looking out over the ocean I could see the waves breaking on the rocky outcrops. A family group with four small boys were having fun in a little lagoon. Several sandcastles attested to their other activities. I sat on a big driftwood log and even thought about taking my sweater off as it was so warm but all too soon Tom had caught up with me and it was time to explore the trail along the top of the beach.

A half hidden flight of wooden steps at the north end of the beach led to the top of the bluff. The trail is close enough to the highway to see and hear the traffic but the sound of the waves breaking blurred most of noise.

It was an interesting trail. I was surprised at the amount of color around in the plant life from both flowers and greenery. The ice plant, even though it is an invasive plant, has bright purple or yellow flowers. There were small information boards every so often which told me things I didn’t know like the fact that the Ohlone people collected olive shells here to make jewelry and the fact that the foam seen washed up on the beach is created by algae and is natural. In other words, it is not soapsuds. The trail is easy to negotiate though very narrow. Several small wooden bridges crossed the wetter places and the occasional flight of wooden steps made climbing the hills easier.

Strange rock erosion called Tafoni

Strange rock erosion called Tafoni

About half way along the trail there is a convenient bench to sit on and I took advantage of it. Here I did take my sweater off. Sitting there gave me a chance to catch up with my writing. When I saw Tom appear in the distance I carried on with my walk. I spotted a small snake slithering across the path and through the plants and wanted to take a photo but it had disappeared before I was able to get my camera out of its case. Should be easy to identify when I get home because it had a bright yellow line along its spine. (It was a Santa Cruz Gartersnake but, as it was not very big, I’m guessing it was just a baby one).

I walked all the way to Pebble Beach where there was a small car park. It is also part of the Bean Hollow State Beach. Here was an interesting information board telling me that the honeycomb rock formations are called Tafoni which is caused by rock weathering and erosional processes. I tried calling Tom on my cell phone to tell him where I was but there was no network coverage so I turned around and walked back.

Ice plant flower. Stuff grows like a weed (is a weed) but at least the flower is pretty.

Ice plant flower. Stuff grows like a weed (is a weed) but at least the flower is pretty.

I caught up with Tom back at the bench and he told me all the interesting features he had been using with his camera. On the way back to the car we analyzed the remains of a large bird which had come to grief in a patch of ice plant. When I passed it earlier I thought it was the remains of a young sea gull but Tom deduced it was a pelican by the shape of its skull.

We stopped in Pescadero on the way home at Harley Goat Farm to buy some of my favorite honey and lavender cheese plus some feta cheese as well. Of course we had to sample lots of the other cheeses and some scrumptious boysenberry, blackberry and raspberry preserve. Since our last visit they have extended the shop and now on sale are some gorgeous wooden chopping boards imported from Wales, socks made with wool from angora goats imported from Yorkshire and garden tools made of copper and tin imported from Hungary.

We were home just after 2 o’clock and we both agreed that for the price of gas, a wonderful breakfast and some cheese, it had been a perfect day.

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