Tag Archives: Point Reyes Station

Point Reyes

Tamales Bay in Point Reyes National Seashore

Tamales Bay in Point Reyes National Seashore

There was no doubt our bed at the National Seashore Lodge was comfortable but the room became really hot during the night. We woke at 7, at which time Tom got up, had a shower, got dressed and went out to take some photographs. I set about seeing if I could turn down the heat, which I did. I also managed to open the windows on either side of the door. At least we would be a bit cooler on our second night.

When Tom returned I was up and dressed and then we went to have breakfast. The Lodge does provide a continental breakfast and we sat and chatted with a young couple who were in Point Reyes to attend a wedding.

We left just after 8.30 and turned left onto Bear Valley Road, drove past the Visitors Center and then left again onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd. The temperature was a chilly 46 when we left but the sun was up and shining and there was no fog. We were heading towards the northern end of Point Reyes to hike the Tomales Point Trail, so were pleased it looked like it would be a good day.

Our journey took us through Inverness. We saw the old boat stuck in the mud just offshore which was slowly becoming more decrepit but we didn’t stop. Tomales Bay looked fantastic. The tide was in and the water glistened in the sun. There were lots of ducks and other wading birds out on the water plus a couple of egrets patiently waiting to catch their breakfast. Tom did stop just past Inverness to take some photos.

Pierce Point Ranch

Point Reyes Beach on the way to Pierce Point Ranch

The view of Point Reyes Beach on the way to Pierce Point Ranch

Not too far from Inverness, we turned right on Pierce Point Road. Almost immediately, off to our left, we had a marvelous view of the blue ocean. The grass and hills were a brilliant green but in a couple of months they will be brown. It is just over 11 miles from Inverness to Pierce Point Ranch and the ride is very scenic with glimpses of Tomales Bay off to the right, the rolling green hills on either side of the road and the occasional historic ranches. No wonder it is called the Pastoral Zone. Early American settlers started dairy farming in Point Reyes in the 1850s and towards the end of that century the production of butter and cheese was a huge business. Now there are still a few dairy ranches operating from several of the historic ranches and even more ranches where beef cattle is raised. The only people living in this vast area are the folks working on the farms and there are certainly more cattle than people. Twice on our journey we saw two cows, in two different locations, which had escaped and were happily grazing alongside the road.

Old rusty farm equipment at Pierce Point Ranch.

Old rusty farm equipment at Pierce Point Ranch.

We crossed a cattle grid and entered the Tule Elk Reserve. When dairy farms were first established in the 1800s tule elk were abundant and roamed freely in California but extensive hunting and the introduction of cattle nearly wiped them out. Tule Elk were thought to be extinct but a small herd of 30 were discovered in Southern California in the 1870s. This small heard were preserved and, from that small number, tulle elk have been reintroduced to many areas in California, including Point Reyes. Not long after entering the reserve we spotted our first group of elk off to the left. We considered ourselves fortunate as sometimes we don’t see any at all.

Pierce Point Ranch appeared as we cornered a bend. With the huge Monterey Cypresses in the background, the white painted buildings stood out. It looked as if they had been given a lick of paint since our last visit but it was an illusion.

There is a small car park at the ranch which appeared full but we found a space. It also serves as the car park for the Tomales Point Trail and we knew most of the occupants of the cars would be hiking. We rarely see many people visiting the ranch itself and today was no exception. The buildings are surrounded by a wooden, grey weathered fence with a grassed area in the middle. The farmhouse is off right at the back.

Margaret catching up on her writing at Pierce Point Ranch.

Margaret catching up on her writing at Pierce Point Ranch.

The first building to catch your attention is the barn. It is possible to investigate the dark interior because plenty of light comes in through the door and between the cracks. It isn’t possible to go inside any of the other buildings but you can peep through the windows. There is a bunkhouse, milking parlor, calf shed, school room and a machine shop. Farm equipment is quietly rusting away and adorned with creeping weeds.

Tom was busy taking photos so I sat on the (very uncomfortable) steps of the bunkhouse, took out my iPad and started writing.

Tomales Point Trail

Calla lily leaves along the Tamales Point Trail

Calla lily leaves along the Tamales Point Trail. This is a black and white version.

The trail is 4.7 miles long and ends at the very end of the peninsula. Then, of course, it is a 4.7 mile walk back to the beginning. As I was busy tapping away, Tom started off on the trail before me. When I caught up with him he was just off the trail photographing calla lilies. We chatted a bit but I then decided to carry on walking because I knew he would want to stop every so often to take photos. My plan was to walk until I came to a bench. I would then sit down, do some writing and wait for Tom to catch up with me.

I know this trail is ablaze with wildflowers in the late spring but spring is  just around the corner and although there were a few wildflowers here and there they could not be described as a ‘blaze of color’. It was a beautiful day for a walk and the views were outstanding. At this early stage of the walk the views were all of the ocean, where sparkling white caps where sprinkled on the bright blue water. McClure Beach, with it’s sandy beach, shimmered to the south and beyond that Point Reyes Bay curved all the way to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. From the trail though I could not see the lighthouse but I it knew it was there.

The time was just 10 o’clock and there was just one couple ahead of me. It was nice to know that there were other people around just in case a mountain lion appeared (an information board at the start of the trail said that mountain lions have been spotted in the area). It would be thrilling to see one but not when I’m walking on my own. I was on the lookout for more elk.

I really enjoyed striding out there on my own and got a bit carried away. When I looked at my watch I realized that it had been an hour since I had last seen Tom. At that point I was climbing up probably the steepest part of the trail. I kept looking back to see if I could see him in the distance. As I was quite high, I could see a fair way back on the trail. At the top of the hill I found a convenient rock to sit on – amazingly there had not been one bench on the trail at all. From my vantage point, and with the aid of my binoculars, I scrutinized the trail. There were quite a few people on their way but I couldn’t Tom. I expected him to be easy to spot because he would be on his own and carrying his tripod, but he did not appear. Every so often I would check out to sea just in case I could spot any water spouts from whales. I also passed the time by greeting folks as they passed. After half an hour there was still no sign of Tom. Every now and again I would ask someone whether they had passed a lone photographer with a tripod. Most people had but then the answers started to be ‘no’.

Herd of tule elk

Herd of tule elk I came across just over a hill. I was some ways off but they immediately knew I was there.

Maybe he had gone back to the car. It was no use trying to phone him because I had no signal on my phone which, of course meant he could not ring me either. It was time to walk back to find out where he was. After less than half a mile I spotted him climbing uphill and was mighty glad to see him. The reason folks had been saying they hadn’t seen him was because he had gone off the trail for a while. He had spotted what he thought might be an elk and went to investigate. Sure enough, he discovered a whole herd of them. They were some distance away and when they became aware off him he backed off. The big stag guarding his harem kept his beady eyes on him.

We carried on walking together, stopping every now and than to admire the view when we found a handy rock to sit on. From our lofty position we could see not only the ocean off to our left but the whole panorama of Tomales Bay to our right. Several little boats were out on the water and we could even see the traffic on the far side of the bay.

We didn’t make it to the end of the trail but estimated we had walked at least half of the 4.7 miles when we decided to turn back. At the point we decided it was time to turn back, we could see the end of the point, the entrance to Tomales Bay and Dillion Beach over to the right.

A bull tule elk checking us out.

A bull tule elk checking us out.

We had amazing luck just after we started our return journey as we spotted a group of tule elk not far away off to our right.  Just after we passed them we had stopped to admire the view once again. When we glanced back the elk were crossing the trail. It was a large group of elk and most of them moved fairly quickly. Some of them lagged behind a little, or maybe they were just stopping to admire the view as well. Eventually they had all crossed and had regrouped. That was the highlight of our day.

The one thing we both commented on as we made our way back to the start that were now far more people on the trail. It was almost a constant stream. Who can blame them though. On such a beautiful day, what better place to be than walking on Point Reyes.

The car park was really full when we finally got back to it. Cars were parked along the road for as far as we could see. As soon as we pulled out of our parking space, another car was waiting to grab it.

Before returning to the Lodge, we stopped off in Inverness for a drink and a late lunch. We had the choice of getting something at the deli; the Blackbird Coffee Shop or Vladimir’s Czech restaurant. We chose the latter. Inside it was cool and dark and we sat at the bar. Tonight we are going out for a meal so we didn’t want a big meal. We were satisfied with a drink of beer and a sample plate of kielbasa sausage, toast, sauerkraut, cucumber, celery and cheese.

After returning to the Lodge for a rest, we finished off the day by driving to Point Reyes Station for a meal at Stellina. As we arrived a little early, we wandered around Tomales Bay Foods and bought a wedge of Wagon Wheel cheese. This was one of the cheeses we had last night and we both liked it.

Stellina Restaurant is the best restaurant in town and it was crowded. Thank goodness we had made a reservation yesterday. While we were waiting for our table, Tom recognized a couple who had already started a meal. It was his cousin Judy and her husband John from Nevada City. What a coincidence, as Nevada City is a long way away in the Gold Country. We had a quick chat with them before we were called to our table. The tables there are pretty close together and we got chatting to the couple at the next table and, guess what, another coincidence, I recognized passing one of the ladies on our hike that morning.

Tom and I enjoy coming to Stellina as the food is really good. For starters we both had the chicory salad with goat cheese. Tom ordered the goat with polenta and braised greens for his main course and I had the grilled sea bass with heirloom cauliflower and golden raisins. Tom commented that he was disappointed with the goat as it was a bit dry whilst my sea bass, on the other hand, was delicious. To finish Tom had two scoops of ice cream and I had their cheese plate. MmmMmm.


Olema & Point Reyes Station

Point Reyes Seashore Lodge in Olema, California

Point Reyes Seashore Lodge in Olema, California

Tom and I love Point Reyes. It is about an hours drive from San Francisco but it seems like a million miles away. The whole area is geologically different from the rest of Marin County because the San Andreas fault separates them. Point Reyes is very slowly moving north while the ‘mainland’ moves south. The vegetation is different as well – you will find less trees on Point Reyes.

The whole area is under the protection of the Point Reyes National Seashore and you will discover how unspoiled the whole of it is. There is only one town on the Point Reyes peninsula and that is tiny Inverness. No big box stores or restaurants chains here. What you will see is miles and miles of beautiful scenery, like the sandy beaches, the rocky shores, the sheltered beaches on Tomales Bay, dozens of hiking trails, historic dairy farms, and wildlife galore.

Arriving in Olema, we passed where we would be staying for the next couple of nights. As it was only 12 noon and check in time was 3 pm, we had a couple of hours to kill. What better place to spend it then to drive on into Point Reyes Station.

Point Reyes Station

Olema Creek which flows past the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge

Olema Creek which flows past the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge

We decided to drive into Point Reyes Station, which is under three miles from Olema.  Although neither Point Reyes Station nor Olema are technically in Point Reyes, they are considered the gateways to it. We parked on one of the back streets and took a walk down the main shopping street. Our first stop was at Marty Knapp’s Photo Gallery. Marty specializes in black and white photography. The walls are lined with scenes of Point Reyes. Just recently he has been taking photographs of old barns and they were stunning. Marty and Tom had a long talk about the Sony Nex-7 camera which Marty had recently acquired. Tom has been talking about that camera just recently. Apparently it has many advantages as it is not only mirror less but much smaller and lighter than a digital SLR. Marty showed Tom his camera and even let him hold it. How long, I wonder before Tom buys one like it?

Afterwards we ambled across the road to Toby’s Feed Barn and bought a couple of birthday cards. Then we crossed back over the road to the Western Saloon for a pint of bitter at the bar (mine was a shandy). This is a good old fashioned bar and we recognized the barmaid from our last few visitors.  Later we meandered northwards to the bookstore where we spent 45 minutes looking at the books for sale. Point Reyes Books always has interesting books and I bought a paperback called ‘Sheepish’ by Catherine Friend, which is a non fiction about the trials and tribulations of raising sheep on a small holding.


A friendly robin welcomed us at the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge

A friendly robin welcomed us at the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge

It is possible for us to drive there and back to Point Reyes in a day but then our time is limited in the area. By staying there a couple of nights it meant that Tom can get up early and catch the early morning light.  We had booked two nights at the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge  in Olema, which is right on the junction of Highway One and Sir Frances Drake Highway.

It was just after two when we arrived at the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge and parked the car. We hoped that we could check in early but our room was not ready. We were invited to wait in their very nice lobby or games room or we could sit in the garden. As the weather was just right for sitting outside, we decided on the garden. Someone would come and find us when our room was ready.

The garden was lovely. The lawn sloped down to the Olema Creek and a line Adirondack chairs sat invitingly at the top of the lawn. Shade trees lined the edge of the lawn. I took one of the Adirondack chairs in the sunshine and Tom chose a bench under the shade of a tree. He took out his tablet and read while I fished my iPad out of the pack and started to write. It was was calm and peaceful there. In between bouts of writing I was amused by a young boy down at the edge of the creek with his mother.

Just before 3 we were called to check in. There are 22 rooms at the Lodge and we had booked one of the Terrace Rooms. It was was really nice room with a Jacuzzi big enough for two. Outside we had our own secluded and sheltered patio, complete with two Adirondack chairs. We spent the afternoon just relaxing.

For dinner we decided to try out the Farm House Restaurant, which is part of the Lodge and only a short walk away. Just inside there is a bar and a fairly large restaurant at the back. I was surprised at how crowded it was but we got a table straightaway. Most of the items on the menu were produced locally. I had the Herbs de Provence roasted chicken with grilled asparagus and cheese au gratin potatoes with Bourbon pecan sauce ($21) and Tom had the Dungeness crab salad sandwich on sour dough with fries ($17). I really enjoyed my meal whereas Tom was not impressed at all with his. To finish we shared the local cheese plate which had four small portions of different cheeses – three soft (including one goat cheese) and one firm. I didn’t catch the names and makers of the soft cheese but the firm one was Wagon Wheel which is made by the nearby Cowgirl Creamery.

It was time for an early night at the end of another perfect day.








Point Reyes Open Studios

Golden Gate Bridge. 75 years young.

Golden Gate Bridge. 75 years young.

It’s was Sunday of the Memorial Day Weekend and there were a lot of events going on but the biggest celebrations were to honor the 75th birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge. One of the events planned was a performance by the Golden Gate Brass Band using actual pieces of the bridge as percussion instruments for their performance of  “A Concert Overture for Brass, Steel Girders and Suspension Cables.” The culmination of the birthday celebration was a huge firework display on the bridge and nearby barges that evening during which time the bridge would be closed to cars, cyclists and pedestrians. Our trip was to Point Reyes, where the Open Studios Weekend is taking place Saturday through Monday, so we left really early to avoid delays.

(Click on the photos for larger versions)

The journey went smoothly and at 7 am we crossed the iconic bridge and she looked beautiful. We never cease to be awed and amazed by it and of the view from it of the bay, the city, Acaltraz and Angel Islands and the scenery all around. We stopped in San Anselemo for breakfast and arrived in Olema at 9 am. None of  the studios opened until 11 am so we had a couple of hours to spare. To kill time we we drove along the west side of Tomales Bay to Inverness where we stopped to check on the old boat called Point Reyes which has been stuck in a mudbank for many years. Slowly over the years we have watched it disintegrate. On this trip we couldn’t cross the little creek to get close to it because the water was too deep and the path extremely muddy but Tom stayed on the other side and spent 45 minutes taking photos of the boat.

The old Point Reyes on Tamales Bay

The old Point Reyes on Tamales Bay

To idle away another hour we sat in the Blackbird Cafe in Inverness, Tom with a cup of coffee and me with a hot chocolate.  We found a copy of the brochure detailing all the open studios, the artists names and addresses and a brief description of their expertise. When we we headed back to the car I spotted a man carrying bagpipes walking towards the shore. Before long he started up his instrument and gave an impromptu concert to Tomales Bay and we stood and listened for a while. He was such an unexpected sight and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his playing.

Just after 11 we set off to our first open studio, which just happened to be a short drive from Inverness. We took a right off Sir Francis Drake Blvd and drove up a steep, narrow, private road to the studio of Bruce Mitchell  who is a wood carver extraordinaire.  Even though it was only a few minutes after 11, there were already two other cars there. His studio is a barnlike structure with a display inside of some of his smaller carvings. Outside were a few of his much larger pieces of works, one of which is weathering nicely to a pleasant silvery color. Bruce himself was busy talking to one of the other visitors but Tom and I were happy to walk around and admire his work. On the wall was a certificate announcing that one of his works was on permanent loan to the Smithsonian.  When I got home I checked online and, in fact, he has two pieces on permanent loan to the American Art Museum. He had a couple of black pieces which interested me. I did have an opportunity to ask Bruce about them and he told me they had been spray painted. There is just something about wood, especially smooth wood with an interesting grain, which demands to be touched.

Playing the bagpipes on a beautiful morning on Tamales Bay

Playing the bagpipes on a beautiful morning on Tamales Bay

Our next stop was at the home of  the husband and wife team of Richard Blair  and Kathleen Goodwin. To get to them we had to return to the main road and take another right onto Drake’s View. This time we had to drive further up the hill and Tomales Bay looked a long way below us. When we parked the car we were met by two dogs; a very friendly retriever and a young German Shepherd. They seemed to know where we wanted to go and led us to the door of the studio. Then the German Shepherd turned to growl at the retriever. I opened the door a little way to ask if it was OK for the dogs to come in. Kathleen met us at the door and said that only the German Shepherd lived there but the retriever lived down the road and always ate their dog’s food so it wasn’t allowed to come in. No wonder she growled at the other dog!

Just a barn on the outskirts of Point Reyes Station

Just a barn on the outskirts of Point Reyes Station

Richard and Kathleen are both photographers and have many photographs on display and prints for sale. Most of their photographs have been taken in and around Point Reyes but there are some from further afield from places like Africa, England, Bali and New York. There werea couple I particularly liked – one taken by Kathleen of a group of men in a bus shelter in Aylsham, England and one by Richard taken in a railway station waiting room in New York. Kathleen is also a painter of watercolors and I loved some of her very simple landscape prints. As well as a studio, it is Richard and Kathleen’s home. We were the first visitors of the day and were able to chat with both of them individually. Tom and Richard spent quite a bit of time talking about photography while I checked out all the prints displayed in bins and which were for sale and some of their books on a table. The books I found fascinating as they were a collaboration of their photographic work and writing. We bought one of the books called ‘Point Reyes Visions’ and they both signed it for us. I happened to glance out of one of the windows into a courtyard and saw a bird feeder. On it was a beautiful, sparrow like bird I’d never seen before so I asked Kathleen what it was and she told me it was a spotted Towhee. More visitors arrived so we took our leave.

Pelican Studio was our next destination, which was further down Drake’s View. Colorful flags led us to Katherine Williams studio and home. The front door was really unusual and I just wish we had taken a photo of it. Inside Katherine welcomed us into her beautiful home with stunning views over the Olema Valley. Katherine is a charming lady and we had an interesting conversation with her not onlyabout her photography but other ventures she has undertaken, including printing for other artists.  According to the card she gave me, Pelican Studio also designs websites. We wandered around looking at some of her nature photos displayed on easels and really liked a lot of them but one caught our eye and we bought a cute print of three quail sitting in a bush for $25.

The next studio, which was right around the corner from Katherine, was the home of Gary Smith. An usual brick path led us to the front door where the soft spoken Gary Smith greeted us. The brochure told us that Gary specializes in prints, pastels and silverpoints. I had no idea about silverpoint and asked Gary what it was. He not only told us and showed us examples of his work but he also demonstrated the technique. In a nutshell, it is creating a picture using special coated paper and a pencil like implement where, instead of graphite, silver wire is used. The effect is soft and ethereal. Using this method he has produced a lot of almost surreal landscapes. We bought three cards for $7 but I knew it would be hard to ever use them. From the window I admired his garden and he took us it onto his deck. Looking down from the deck we could see more curvy brick paths, interesting plants and trees. It was all very colorful. Gary told us that he built the house and landscaped the garden himself 25 years ago.

Doorway that caught our attention in Point Reyes Station

Doorway that caught our attention in Point Reyes Station

Time was getting on and we wanted to visit Point Reyes Station. It was by now the middle of the afternoon and parking was at a premium. We wanted to visit Marty Knapp‘s studio on 3rd Street and were fortunate to find a parking spot nearby. We were right on the edge of Point Reyes Station looking out over meadows. Tom spotted an interesting barn and wanted to take some photographs. A footpath beckoned us to venture across the meadow and we gladly set out. The footpath led to other footpaths which criss-crossed the meadow. One day we must return and explore them. The barn is impressive and we wandered around it. I spotted an information board and headed to it and read that the land used to be wetlands but back in the 1940’s levees were built and the land became a dairy farm. The Giacomini family owned a lot of land in the area and this section was called in Waldo Giacomini Rance. In 2000 the National Park Service bought the land and the Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project began to reclaim the wetlands by breeching the levees. The project has been a success and the number of waterbird species have increased dramatically. It is now a beautiful unspoilt area at the southern end of Tomales Bay.

We walked back to Marty Knapp’s studio. He used to have a studio in Olema and then he moved to the eastern side of Point Reyes but now his studio is on 3rd Street  just a couple of blocks from his gallery in the middle of Point Reyes Station. Marty specializes in black and white photography and we often visit his shop to check out what is new. On this occasion we didn’t get much of a chance to see too much in his studio because it was so crowded we could hardly move around at all. So we called it a day but before we drove home we visited The Grand Show in the gallery at the back of Toby’s Feed Barn on Highway 1 where a piece of work from each of the 21 artists taking part in this weekend was displayed.

Time to drive home but we took the precaution of avoiding the Golden Gate Bridge, because of the celebrations which were taking place, and went via the Richmond Bridge and 880. The end of another perfect day.





Dogtown, Marin County – Part 2

The view from our bedroom at Woodville Ranch

The view from our bedroom at Woodville Ranch

During the night it rained heavily. Several times we woke up and each time we could hear the rain steadily falling. It was so nice to be snuggled up in bed.

At 7 we were woken by the sound of the horses moving below us in the barn. It was breakfast time for them. Outside it was still overcast and we could hear water dripping from the eaves but the heavy rain had ceased.

We decided to go into Bolinas for breakfast. There is only one cafe in the town – The Coast Cafe- and that is where we headed. We have had breakfast here several times but it must be under new management. It’s called brunch now not breakfast and the menu has definitely gone upmarket. I had French Toast with organic pears with a side of apple chicken sausage and Tom had Fish Tacos. Our food was good if a little pricey.

When I planned this weekend, it was with the idea that we could be doing a lot of hiking. But the rain during the night made a change of plan necessary. All the trails would be too muddy now. We ended up taking a drive north along Highway 1 to Bodega Bay.

Our first stop was by the Bolinas Lagoon. The day was beginning to brighten up and there were bits of blue sky to be seen. The outside temperature was only 52 degrees though. The lagoon was beautiful. This time our view had the hills in the background.

Our next stop was just before the Woodville Ranch. I wanted to get a photo of the green Dogtown sign (see part 1 for a photo of the sign). The population was originally 30 but it had been crossed out several times. The total population is now 33.

The views towards Olema and Point Reyes Station were outstanding. The recent rains had turned the grass green. On one side of the road is the Point Reyes Natural Seashore and on the right the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Everything is pristine. We drove through Olema and then Point Reyes Station, the latter being busier than the former. Today Point Reyes Station were holding its weekly farmers market. All along the way were trail heads. Point Reyes is a walker’s paradise. So many places to explore.

Tomales Bay Oyster sign along Highway One

Tomales Bay Oyster sign along Highway One

We stopped at the Tomales Bay Oyster Company where it was a hive of activity. Oysters were being brought in from the beds, placed into large tanks to be rinsed and then sorted into sizes. A dozen small oysters sell for $10 and a dozen large for $18. The oyster beds are out in the bay and are clearly marked with colored buoys. We were chatting with one of the oyster sorters. They were expecting a busy day. The sun was shining and they were planning on a lot of customers that day. They have lots of picnic tables, all with their own BBQs. I guess people come, buy the raw oysters, cook them and then eat them. In fact several groups were already arriving and laying claim to their tables and starting to light BBQs.

Highway 1 swings inland for a bit and we were driving along by the side of a creek. In the small town of Tomales we took a detour to go see Dillon Beach. There were some amazing views of the Point Reyes headland and the entrance to Tomales Bay. We stopped by some rock formations so Tom could take photos. I stayed in the car because I could hear the wind whistling around the car.

It didn’t take long from there to reach Dillon Beach. It is a small town with narrow streets. There was only one place to park but the charge was $7, which seemed an awful lot of money for a five minute stop. We carried on driving to the end of the road and ended up at Lawson’s Landing. The road dead ended at a trailer park with an entrance fee. We turned around. Driving back through Dillon Beach, we had to slow down to negotiate a couple of the bends because two pickups towing trailers were taking up most of the road.

Instead of retracing our steps to Tomales, we took a short cut back to Highway 1 along Valley Ford Road. This time the spectacular views were inland and we could see for miles. At the small hamlet of Valley Ford we turned right onto Highway 1.

Western sandpipers hunkering down waiting for the storm to arrive

Western sandpipers hunkering down waiting for the storm to arrive.

Bodega Bay is a strange place. We never found a downtown as such with shops. Along the shore there were lots of restaurants with their own parking lots but there was nowhere we could stop to look around. We drove to the end of the town and then turned towards Bodega Head. We did park for a while in the marina but didn’t stay long. The weather was beginning to deteriorate. At a small inlet at the beginning of the marina was a mud flat. A host of water and wading birds were busy searching for food but what amazed us were a flock western sandpipers.  At first they were difficult to spot as they blended in with the vegetation but they were all standing facing in the same direction and hardly moving. They were bracing themselves for a storm.

We headed back to Dogtown. The rain started to come down as soon as we left Bodega Bay. We could see down towards Tomales Bay a huge rain cloud and the rain falling in the distance.  We thought about the Tomales Bay Oyster Company and thought they would not be too happy.

In Point Reyes Station we stopped to buy food for our evening meal. We bought wine, olive oil, spinach and bread at the Palace Market on the main street; cheese at the the Cowgirl Creamery on 4th Street and a small filet mignon and a rib eye steak in the Marin Sun Farm butcher’s shop.

Tom cooked our meal and it was superb. We finished the bottle of wine and chatted while the rain beat down. We were content.

Point Reyes

After a couple of weekends doing other things, we were back on the road again. At 5.30 we set off for Point Reyes. No breakfast blog today as we ate at home. I have been making Sleepy Morning Oatmeal and have been having that instead of stopping somewhere.  I got the recipe from Johnsie who runs the Pomaika’i (Lucky) Farm B on the Big Island.”

Tomales Bay and the top of Mt. Tam in the clouds

Tomales Bay and the top of Mt. Tam in the clouds. (Oops, Photon points out that it's not Mt. Tam it's Black's Mtn. Thanks!)

(Click on the photos for larger versions)

Since the clocks sprang forward it was really been dark when we set out and the sky did not lighten up until we reached San Francisco. The top of the Golden Gate Bridge was lost in fog and we did wander whether it would be the same on Point Reyes. Over the previous week the weather had been glorious with temperatures up in the 70’s and this weekend promises to be just as warm. We brought jackets, though, just in case.

Driving through Marin the residents were beginning to wake up. A few early morning joggers and dog walkers were out and about. Beyond Lagunitas the first redwoods appeared and then signs for Point Reyes National Seashore. We were almost there.

Another view of Tomales Bay

Another view of Tomales Bay

As we rounded the southern end of Tomales Bay, we noticed that there was far more water around. Obviously the tide was at its highest. We pulled in behind The Inverness Store to take a look at our favorite disintegrating boat. It was impossible to get as close as we did in November last year when we stayed nearby for the weekend. Tom took some photos of the Bay and Mount Tam, with its peak hidden by fog.

Beyond Inverness we turned right, heading towards Tomales point instead of the light house. Soon we were in open countryside, passing the occasional historic ranch. Dairy farming is still very much a going concern judging by the many cows grazing in the fields. Each ranch we passed seemed to be raising a different breed.

Off to our left we caught glimpses of the ocean and all around were flowers in bloom. Wildflowers is one of the reasons for our trip today. After so much rain, we were expecting to see a lot of color. The predominant color though on the road to Tomales Point was the white of the cow parsley. In the past, Tomales Point trail has been a good place to see a vivid display of color.

Once across a big cattle grid, we were on the Tule Elk Reserve and we soon spotted our first group of elk and up on the crest of a hill a magnificent

Tule Elk at the reserve in Point Reyes

Tule Elk at the reserve in Point Reyes

stag was standing in splendid isolation. Tom stopped to get some photos and was soon lost to view. When he returned to the car he said he didn’t see the stag again but had a very nice view of Tomales Bay. He also complained about the number of bugs around. Here in Claifornia we are not used to a lot of bugs but I guess the warm, wet spring has a lot to do with the increase. Note from Tom: Be mindful of the elk pasture patties.  Lots of elk = lots of poop.

Further along the road there was a group of about ten female elk close to the edge of the road. Once again Tom stopped. He was able to get some good shots even though they had moved off a little way as our car approached.

We passed the Pierce Point Ranch and drove to the end of the road which was the car park for the trail down to McLures Beach.  Click here for a link to all of the Point Reyes beaches.  Neither of us has ever been to this beach so we decided to go take a look. The sandy trail descended gradually. Along the way there were many wildflowers – yellow lupin like flowers, orange California poppies, lilac and white stock like flowers, small purple ground cover plants, bright spiky ice plants and purple vetch. The beach was wild and almost deserted. There was a small group of gulls and about a dozen sanderlings. It is amusing to watch the latter as they follow the receding surf and then turn and quickly mince away as the next little wave surges up the beach.

California Golden Poppy

California Golden Poppy

There were two lots of footsteps in the sand heading north. In the distance I could see two fisherman at the edge of the water. I walked back towards the trail and sat on a large weathered piece of driftwood to catch up on my writing.  Tom was busy with his camera and tripod. The sun wasn’t visible at all so it was not very warm plus there was a stiff breeze. At least there is no fog but off in the distance the view is hazy.

I ventured after Tom and discovered some rock pools. Even though I searched, I could not see any fish or even small crabs. There were no sea anemones fastened to the rocks either but it was good fun to clamber over the seaweed covered rocks.

Walking back up the trail seemed much steeper than the descent but there was much to distract me along the way. I looked more closely at the colorful plants and wished that I could identify them all. I tried to take some close up photos so I could look them up when I got home but they did not turn out too good at all.

We drove out of the car park and back up the road for a quarter of a mile and then turned left into the car park of Pierce Point Ranch. As I got out of the car I saw a photo of a woman posted on a notice board and went to have a closer look. It was a flier about Katherine Truitt, a 37 year old resident of Alameda, who had gone missing on January 8 this year. Her car was discovered in the parking lot at McClures Beach. It is assumed she was struck by a rogue or sneaker wave and swept out to sea. Back home I checked to see whether her body had been recovered but so far it has not. While searching I read that another woman – Silvia Lange, a 77 year former volunteer at Point Reyes National Seashore, also went missing 13 days later but this time further south. There are many warnings posted around at Point Reyes about the dangers of getting too close to the ocean so my guess is these two disappearances, though tragic, are just coincidences.

Pierce Point Ranch is not a working ranch now but not only was it the first ranch to be established on Point Reyes it was also the

Pierce Point Ranch

Pierce Point Ranch

largest. It was built in mid 1800’s and all of the buildings are still standing. There is a self guided tour around the hay barn, one room school house, calving shed, bunk houses and creameries although the only building you can walk through is the hay barn.

I first visited here with Tom about ten years ago and everything looked so much better than it does now. All the buildings need a coat of paint and basic maintenance but I guess the current economic situation has not helped.

There is a trail from here called the Tomales Point Trail and Tom and I have walked it several times. We had every intention of walking it today but the diversion to McClures Beach has not left us enough time. It has been a long time since breakfast and our tummies are growling.

We headed for Point Reyes Station in search of food. On the road between Pierce Point Ranch and Inverness we passed many bikes. The cyclists wore vests which proclaimed they were in training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

In Point Reyes Station we looked around for somewhere to eat. Osteria Stellina opens for lunch at 11.30 so we decided to give them a try. We had dinner here a few months ago and we both really enjoyed it. We had a few minutes to kill before it opened so we went to the bank and on the way back to the restaurant Tom spotted a jacket he quite fancied.

Lunch was great. For starters Tom had asparagus and lemon and I had the beets and greens salad with ricotta cheese. We both had the GBD with aged Gruyere cheese. I did ask what GBD stood for and was told ‘Golden Brown and Delicious’. It certainly lived up to its name and worth all the extra calories. We drove home feeling replete and happy.

Point Reyes Part 3

Saturday Afternoon and Evening

We took a break from visiting artists’ studios by driving into Point Reyes Station. There were four things we wanted to do. The first was to find

Tamales Bay at Point Reyes

an ATM. Buying the bowl wiped us out of cash. Our second errand was to buy some cheese. Point Reyes has many dairy farms and cheese, along with oysters, are what the area is famous for. On Third Street is the Tomales Bay Food Company. It is a small selection of shops selling food from the area. At 1.30 on the Saturday it was packed. There were many cheeses to choose from and I could not decide which one to buy. In the end I chose a small selection from Cowgirl Creamery an a bag consisting of their Original Blue, Matos’ St George, Mt Tam and a goat cheese called California Crottin. The bag also contained bread and butter pickles but I misread it assuming there was bread and butter inside not knowing that there was such a thing as bread and butter pickles. I still have a lot to learn.

Tom and I sat outside on a bench and sampled the Matos’ St George cheese and watched what was going on. There were lots of people sitting on the grass eating their picnics and children were playing. More and more people were arriving to shop. Amongst all this, a young man was balanced on top of a four foot post performing some sort of Kung Fu exercise. For about fifteen minuts he carried on totally engrossed while people walked past, just giving him a casual glance. Hey, this is Marin and that’s what folks do round here. Just another day in Point Reyes Station.

Our next task, and the most important some would say, was to get a drink. Opposite Toby’s Feed Barn, where they hold a farmers market every Saturday, is The Western Saloon and this is where we headed. Outside Osteria Stellina – where we will be eating tonight – there were people waiting for tables but The Western had only a few customers. We took a seat at the bar and ordered a couple of beers. The lady who served us didn’t appear very friendly at first but she warmed up when we asked if she was serving when Prince Charles and Camilla came into the bar four years ago. She certainly was and told us all about it. Tom and I were in Point Reyes Station that day and were standing in the crowd outside the bar. It was a big occasion for us. It is the first time Tom had ever seen any of the Royals and I got to shake hands with both the Prince and his Duchess.

Our last visit was to the Pelican Gallery on the main street. A lot of people were walking round clutching the Point Reyes Open Studios brochure but the Pelican Gallery was not part of it and therefore not very busy. Inside the gallery were lot of large photos printed onto canvas and there were quite a few I would not mind hanging on my wall.

Back on the road again and there were just two more studios to visit today. They first was to Bruce Mitchell, the wood sculpture, who we missed earlier on. His studio was located in Sherwood Road. Bruce specializes in large sculptures and bowls. In the garden outside were a few of his bigger pieces. They are nice but not for us. Where would be put it if we bought one? Also outside he had a large work area with a sawpit. Inside there were more large sculptures and a lot of bowls. I circled the studio studying his bowls and some of them were really nice. There are made out of many different types of wood. It was interesting to observe the different grains in them. I had the urge to pick them up just to run my hands over their surface and to bury my nose inside to smell them, but resisted.

Our very last studio visit was right opposite our B&B so we parked the car and walked across the footbridge over the creek in the middle of Inverness Way. Abbie Durkeee uses mixed media in her paintings. Her studio is also her house so you walk straight into her front room. Several of Abbie’s paintings are displayed on the walls of her sitting room and every one of them told a story. One told the story of her grandmother and displayed a photo of Abbie as a young girl, a loaf of bread, a jar of bread and butter pickles (what a coincidence) and lots of butterfly wings fixed to the bottom third. Abbie collected the wings when she was cycling on the Big Island in Hawaii. Monarch Butterflies migrate to Hawaii and a lot must perish. She said there were millions of wings lying around and in a car they would not have been seen but when you are are riding a bike you see much more. Abbie picked up a discarded Marlborough cigarette box and placed the wings inside. The box protected the wings form being damaged as she continued her ride. Butterfly wings represent family and community to Abbie. Just off the living room is Abbie’s workroom and there was a canvas she was working on and other projects in works. Everything looked highly organized. As we were leaving she us she has a completely different display each day.

Another view of Tamales Bay

Next door to Abbie at 2 Inverness Way we noticed a sign which said ‘Shaker Shops West’ so we went inside to have a look. There were many Shaker items and gadgets like kitchen utensils, coat hooks and children’s toys plus Shaker chairs, tables and a chest. The furniture is well designed, functional and appealing but also very expensive.

Back to the B&B for a spot of relaxation before heading back to Point Reyes Station for dinner. The fresh cookies were out in the sitting room and I picked up a couple as we walked past. They were delicious.

At 5.45 we turned up at Osteria Stellina only to be told our reservation was for 6.30. It was a very busy place with all the tables occupied and people waiting, so we went off to find some amusement before returning at the appointed time. For ten minutes we browsed the books in Point Reyes Books but it closed a 6. There was nothing else to do but to return to the car and listen to the radio for half an hour.

At 6.30 we tried again and only had to wait five minutes before our table was ready. It was not the best table in the house because people were constantly knocking the back of Tom’s chair when they walked past and every time the door opened I got a blast of cold air but these are the only negatives of the whole experience. The chef and owner is Christian Caiazzo. Originally he worked in high profile restaurants in New York and San Francisco but had to give up when he was in a bad car accident. After some painful rehabilitation he moved to Point Reyes Station where he first work at Cowgirl Creamery and then opened a coffee bar before opening Osteria Stellina.

To start with Tom had half a dozen sweetwater oysters. They were served in their half shells on a bed of ice with a cocktail sauce and a lemon flavored dipping sauce. I had roasted brussels sprouts and walnuts. Both were lip smackingly good. For Tom’s main course he had braised goat and I had Osso Buco with mashed potatoes and kohlrabi and broccoli rabe. Tom said the goat was very good. Mine was delicious. To finish Tom had the flourless chocolate desert and I had the cheese selection which consisted of three local cheeses – a soft goats cheese and two from the Cowgirl Creamery (Mt Tam and Red Hawk) served with a membrillo (quince preserve) and bread & butter. It was all washed down with a couple of carafes of house red. We both came to the same conclusion – it was the best dinner we’ve enjoyed for some time.

We were in the restaurant for nearly two hours but never realized it had been that long as we were having the time of our lives. The end of another perfect day.

Point Reyes – Part 2

Another of that boat. There's something about Point Reyes that's magical.

Part 2 (Saturday Morning)

Tom was up very early.  It was just after 5 and still dark but he was eager to get out and take some photos.  I turned over and went back to sleep.

He returned, very cold, two hours later.  I asked whether he had been able to take any photos in the dark.  He had tried taking some long exposures shots of the stars but he didn’t think they were too successful  When it started to get light he went down to the old wood boat marooned on the mudbank just a few minutes walk from our B&B.  The tide was in and he hoped he had managed to get some good shots of the boat and its reflection in the water.

Coffee is available down in the sitting room from 7.30 but breakfast is not until 8.30.  We went down for coffee – well Tom had coffee and I had tea – and we read the paper.  There were already a few guests there and we chatted sporadically with them.  One couple were from Mountain View, which is quite close to where we live. At breakfast we shared a table with Craig and Jenny who were from Campbell which is only a couple of miles from our home. Breakfast consisted of cereal, fruit, orange juice, yogurt and a cooked dish. It was very tasty.

After breakfast we went out for a short walk. We set out to find a trail but ended up walking up

Tamales Bay

A little windy but still a beautiful day.

Inverness Way and around a few blocks and then alongside the bay before making our way back to the B&B to change into our walking shoes. Then we set off in the car, driving north along Sir Francis Drake Blvd. It was only 10.30 so once again had time to kill. We parked on a gravel pull-in by Chicken Ranch Beach and took a walk along the beach. The tide was ebbing but it was still pretty high. Last time we came here we were able to walk north along the beach and under the numerous piers that have been built into Tomales Bay. Today we had to content ourselves by walking south. There were several fishermen along the edge of the water and though we didn’t see anybody catch anything, we noticed the tail of a fish sticking out of a bag. It looked like a tiger shark. Near three fishermen was a very wet black lab with a tennis ball in its mouth. He came up to me and dropped the ball at my feet. I asked if it was OK to throw the ball and one replied that it wasn’t their dog, it had just appeared. So I threw the ball a couple of times to please him. At one point he was stood on a slope and when he dropped the ball, it rolled into the water. When he looked down and saw the ball had gone he looked at me as much as to say, “well, how did you manage to throw the ball without me seeing you?” It didn’t take him long to find it again.

At 11 we returned to the car and set off for our first studio of the day. This was at the home of Philip Loring Greene and his wife. His speciality is Ilfochrome photography. Egrets and herons are his passion and he has some stunning photos of them. There were a couple of other people there and while his wife – who plays the harpsichord by the way – served us hot apple cider, Philip demonstrated how he developed his photos. It sounded very long and tedious and one has to admire his patience. It can take two weeks to produce one print.

The next studio we missed altogether, though not intentionally. It was difficult to find. I should have looked at the brochure more carefully because it said that access was through the Inverness Valley Inn.

We drove on to the next studio which belonged to Molly Prier. She makes functional ceramics and Pueblo style vessels. Molly’s studio is not very large and only half a dozen people could fit in at any one time. Her burnished bowls were very beautiful and felt smooth to the touch. She fires them by digging a trench and covering them with cow dung. When the fire dies down, the pit is covered with soil. It takes a long time to finish the pots. Though we were tempted to buy one, we didn’t succumb. Just down the road was the joint studio of Shari Miler, who makes creative jewelry – which we were not interested in – and Peter Sheremeta, who makes stoneware pottery and garden vessels. Outside were some of his garden pots. They were round and the bottom is shaped into three legs. The legs are open at the bottom to allow water to drain away – what a novel idea. Inside were the studios were his bowls. They were mostly round and in vibrant colors. Tom fell in love with one so he bought it. It is a Christmas present for his daughter. Peter demonstrated it’s perfect construction by tapping it and it gave the sound of a bell being struck. He showed us one which didn’t make that sound and he said it must have a crack in it but it didn’t now where it was.

A winding road through the woods to another studio.

A winding road through the woods to another studio.

The next studio on the list belonged to the wood sculptor, Bruce Mitchell but we missed the turning, so we carried on to the next one. We turned up Drakes View. It is a private road but as the sign definitely pointed that way, we carried on. The road climbed up and up and there were some really sharp horseshoe bends. We really thought we had taken the wrong road but then we saw a sign for the studio, so we knew we were headed in the right direction. On and up we climbed, passing some really nice houses. The Richard Blair and Kathleen Goodwin studio is right at the top of a hill and it was one that was badly damage by the 1995 Bolines Range fire. In fact Richard and Kathleen only had a cabin then and it burned down. Now they have built a lovely home which is also their studio. They are both photographers b ut Kathleen also does paintings and Richard produces books. I particularly liked some of Kathleen’s photos. One was of the raft moored offshore at Shell Beach and the other of a group of men in a bus shelter in Alysham.

We walked out of the studio, crossed the road and walked down a short track between some trees to look at the fabulous view down over Tomales Bay. It was a lovely sunny day but there was a chill in the air and the wind could be heard soughing through the trees. Tom pointed out how far the fire had travelled down the hill. You did distinctly see the break between the old and new growth of trees.

We returned to the car and drove down the hill again but turned on onto Upper Robert Drive where we visited the studio of Ed Stetson. This was the only place we stopped at where we were the only visitors. The studio was in the beautiful home of Ed and his wife with a commanding view of Tomales Bay. Ed is a photographer and uses a digital camera to shoot wildlife. He has captured some amazing shots – one of a Marsh Hawk carrying a vole in its talons; one of what he calls ‘sand trees’ taken on Limator Beach and one of a pelican trying to get friendly with a wooden statue of a pelican. Tom and Ed had a long conversation about printing techniques, Photoshop and matting. It is interesting to pick up hints and tips from other photographers.

More to follow…..

Point Reyes – Part 1

Tom and I are off to Point Reyes for the weekend to celebrate our anniversary.  We have booked into a B&B in Inverness for two nights.  The main

Old fishing boat, "Point Reyes".

Old fishing boat, "Point Reyes".

reason for choosing Point Reyes is to tour the Open Studios of the local artists.  Twenty studios will be open over the  weekend and we printed a list of them.  I also printed a copy of the map but it was far too small to read.

We left at 7.  A wet weekend was forecast but that’s OK.  In fact it rained pretty heavily during the night and the roads were wet. We don’t mind the rain, except for the fact that Tom doesn’t like to take photos in the rain.  Lots of rain is what we need here in California after several years of drought.

It was Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – and the official start of the holiday shopping spree.  The roads were not too busy but all the car parks surrounding the shopping malls we passed were full.  Some shops opened their doors just after midnight.  The last place you will ever see Tom and I is fighting the masses to get that one object which we ‘must’ have at a ridiculous price.  For us it is the open road, traveling to new places and meeting new and interesting people.

We stopped off in San Anselmo for breakfast at Comforts Cafe – see previous post.  When we stopped outside the cafe there was a slight drizzle but the sun was shining.

After breakfast we continued along Sir Francis Drake Blvd, driving through San Geronimo, Forest Knolls and Lagunitas.  It was a scenic drive with many trees showing off their autumnal colors.  On our way home we plan to take a detour along the San Geronimo Valley Drive.

We pulled into Point Reyes Station at 10.  Already there were a lot of cars around and we had to park on a side street.  Point Reyes station is a nice place to browse the shops.  There are no big stores but lots of funky little artsy craft shops.  We went first to Toby’s Feed Barn where the Group Show is for the Open Studios.  At the back of the store were exhibits from each of the studios which are open this weekend and here we picked up a brochure.  I marked the ones we particularly want to visit.  There were 17 crosses so we are going to be busy.  The map in the brochure was very good I’m pleased to say.

We had time to kill as none of the studios opened until 11, so we took a wander around town.  We passed the restaurant where Tom has booked for tomorrow night – Osteria Stellina.  It looks really good.

As I was walking past a shop which had a large map of the the area displayed outside, I heard a woman asking two men what was there to do in the area.  Of course I stopped to look at the map because I can’t resist them and the woman went on to say she was from San Jose.  One of the men suggested Stinson Beach so I chimed in that Bolinas was also a nice place to visit.  The same man replied that the tide was too high there.  I then turned to him and asked if he lived in Bolinas and he admitted he did.  I explained to the woman that Bolinas folk remove all road signs pointing to Bolinas to discourage people from visiting and that’s why it was worth a visit.

When in Point Reyes Station we always visit Point Reyes Books.  Their range of books is fascinating and diverse.  We idled away the time there until 11.

The first open studio we visited was Todd Pickering and it was one block over from where we were.  Todd specializes in black and white photography so right up Tom’s alley.  Todd and his dog met us at the door and welcomed us.  He had a lot of very nice prints to look at and buy.  Todd also told us he runs courses, either for groups or one to one.  In February I am attending a weekend course in Sausalito and suggested to Tom it would be a good idea for him to do a photography course whilst I attended my course.  We could always spend a night somewhere between Point Reyes and Sausalito, thereby saving me a trip back to San Jose in the evening or me spending a night on my own in a hotel.  Todd was an interesting person to talk to.  He also plays a guitar and had a CD of his music for sale.

Next door was Carolyn Mean’s porcelain and stoneware studio.  She had bowls and vases on display.  There were several ceramic teapots which were very decorative but impractical.  There was also a selection of her seconds for sale which were very inexpensive.

As we walked back to the car there was a heavy drizzle.  We were pleased to get back into the car as we were not wearing our jackets or carrying the umbrella.  They were of course in the car but that was little use to us outside braving the elements.

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Pine Cone Diner, Point Reyes Station

Pine Cone Diner, Point Reyes Station, California

Pine Cone Diner, Point Reyes Station, California

After our walk along the Limantour Trail, we were ready for breakfast.  I had noticed that the Olema Farm House Restaurant at the junction of Sir Francis Drake Blvd and Highway 1 in Olema had a sign saying ‘Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner’ so we decided to try it out.  We were out of luck though as the restaurant wasn’t open.  We inquired at the Deli next door where we could get breakfast and were told that we could get an breakfast egg muffin there.  We decided against that as we wanted something more substantial so drove back into Point Reyes. (Click on the photo for a larger version)

We normally eat at the Station House Cafe in the heart of Point Reyes Station on Highway 1 but today we drove around town to see if there was anywhere else.  On a side street we discovered the Pine Cone Diner and decided to give it a try.

It’s a cute place and obviously been here for some time and is not very big.  There are just five four seater booths and a couple of tables – one for six and one for two.  There are 8 round stools up at the counter.  There is also some seating outside.  The tables and chairs were the old fashioned chrome type with yellow tops and upholstery.

Our server was not very welcoming at all, which was a pity.  I expected a real friendly welcome so was disappointed.  Service is neither slick or fast.

Tom ordered the Chorizo Scramble $9.75 and I ordered the oatmeal (made from Red Mill Oats) with bananas, walnut and raisins for $6.95 plus a side of toast for $2.00.

The decoration is quite charming.  At the windows were bright and colorful curtains, which, on close inspection, depicted maps of all 50 states showing their main attractions and landmarks.   One wall is devoted to a mixed collection of plates of all sizes, shapes and colors.  Over the counter is a shelf displaying decorated glasses and a cut out frieze of farm and household animals.  Also on the walls is a varied collection of paintings, prints, a map, awards and newspaper cuttings.  The pine cone theme is echoed in a couple of tin trays, half a dozen containers and also hand painted onto the pelmets over the windows.  Fresh flowers were on the tables but had obviously been there for a few days.  All the decorative objects look genuine as if placed there by a caring family and not obtained by a corporation.

The food was good.  My oatmeal came in a deep round bowl on a non matching plate.  The walnuts (small and crumbly), brown sugar and golden raisins were served on the side.  The milk was in a small, blue ceramic jug.  Tom’s Chorizo Scramble was tasty and had beans in it.

The restroom was clean and cutesey.  No complaints there.

We would go there again for the food and the cuteness of the place but the service leaves a lot to be desired.

Station House Cafe, Point Reyes

Station House Cafe is another one of our favorite eating places.  Normally we stop here for lunch.  TodayStation House Cafe, Point Reyes, California though, at 10.45, it will be brunch so, technically, I can include it as a breakfast blog.  As it is Labor Day the cafe opened at 8 a.m. and served breakfast until 3.30 p.m.

(Click the image for a larger version)

We asked for a table outside in the shade and that is just what we got.  Almost touching the table were the branches of a large shrub with sharp thorns.  The hostess promptly went to find a pair of pruners and cut back the branches.  How’s that for service?

What a glorious day to sit outside.  There are 15 two seater wrought iron tables and chairs and five marble topped tables for 4 with wrought iron chairs.  In the middle is a large shady arbor covered with vegetation.  Umbrellas shade the rest of the tables.  There is a small fountain and pool but there are no fish in the water, just coins.  Around the outside of the patio are many flowering shrubs and rose bushes.  It is a very popular restaurant and there are very few empty tables.

Hey, they do oatmeal so, of course, I ordered that.  I chose a bowl with nuts and raisins for $4.75.  I could have ordered a cup for less.  Tom ordered corn beef hash ($9.95).  All the fish served here is local and wild caught and the beef is from Niman Ranch.

My writing was brought to a conclusion by the timely arrival of our food.  My oatmeal came in a small, deep bowl on a large plate.  There was a mountain of oatmeal, rising at least half and inch above the top of the bowl; hence it was far from runny.  Also on the plate were three small stainless steel bowls; one with brown sugar, one with golden raisins and one with walnuts.  The milk came in a mid size glass and was warm and frothy.  The only drawback though was in trying to pour it over the oatmeal.  I tried dribbling it slowly but it made a mess.  Tom was all for tipping it up quickly.  The problem with that method was the lack of space in the bowl due to the generous amount of oatmeal and he made a mess as well.  A jug would have caused no problems at all.  It was good oatmeal though.

Tom thoroughly enjoyed his corn beef hash and sourdough toast.  His eggs were done to perfection.  He asked for over medium and they came with crispy white edges and runny yolks.  For the rest of the day he waxed lyrical about them.  The hash was also extremely tasty with large pieces of corn beef, cubed potatoes, onions and peppers.  Tom normally orders English muffin but today he had he had his favorite toast – sourdough.  I guess that is because he was brought up with it.  I don’t like the taste and particularly dislike the crusty outside which scrapes the roof of my mouth.

Note from Tom – Margaret, you are now a US citizen and especially a Northern California citizen.  You must learn to like sourdough.  You will be assimilated.  Resistance is futile.

Almost forgot my visit to the restroom but it was really boring.  Not one touch of decoration inside at all.  The water eventually ran hot but I almost gave up.  Right next to the restroom is a small, separate area, obviously used for private parties. I took a look around while waiting to use the restroom and admired the black and white photos of Point Reyes on the walls.  The photographer was Marty Knapp, who is a well known resident of Point Reyes.  He has a showroom further down the street from the cafe on the opposite side.

Our verdict – great food, wonderful surroundings and at $15.84 quite reasonable as well.  We can heartily recommend the Station House Cafe.

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