The National Park Service may be my favorite government agency because I know if I see that name attached to a location, it’s not going to disappoint me. I’m going to see something beautiful and interesting, even if it’s not what I thought it would be, which has happened several times. I was looking for new places to go in the Oakland, California area and saw Point Reyes National Seashore on the map. When I enlarged it, I was fascinated. It didn’t look like anywhere else I’d been and it had that National Parks seal of approval, so we planned a visit, a day trip from where we were staying. Of course, I always have to remind myself when on the coast that places on the map that look close together take a lot longer to drive due to narrow, very winding roads, up and down the coastal areas. We drove by this place on a curve and turned back. From the road, I thought the figures were Eskimos, but they were kind of buddhas, much more likely in northern California.  Interesting to guess why they were there…IMG_7231
IMG_7232We stopped in Point Reyes Station for a quick walk up and down the street, peeking into shops and a wonderful market, gallery, gift shop. DSC_0060 IMG_7245Besides the old buildings, including the western bar above, there were interesting signs in odd places…the oyster farm wasn’t saved, by the way, but the signs remain around the area…IMG_7247 IMG_7234 IMG_7233We wound our way to the park, which is not at all what you expect from a seashore.  It looks more like the Scottish Highlands, with cattle ranches all around.  I didn’t take pictures of the veal pens, but know that I’m not sure I can ever eat it again.  Enough said…we passed ranch after ranch with all kinds of cattle to greet us on the way.DSC_0144DSC_0142DSC_0129DSC_0062I have no idea how long we drove through these farmlands, seemed like an hour, but there was finally a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.DSC_0139When we arrived at our stop, there was the shock of getting out of the car to a fierce wind which caused us to layer up to stop the cold.  An information sign informed us that this is the windiest place on the west coast of the United States, not hard to believe that day. We watched the birds in the sky trying to fly against the wind, looking like they were hovering instead of flying. Later, I caught a shot of this guy trying to stay on a post.  DSC_0138We headed down to the famous lighthouse at the end, which was very fortunately closed, giving us an excuse to skip the 300 steps down (and back up). With the wind and the cold, we were having all the fun we could.DSC_0103 DSC_0105The sun came out briefly and then the clouds rolled back, leaving us to spot a ship in the cloudy distance.  A ghost ship on the horizon.DSC_0117The rock formations were fascinating and the wind shaped trees provided some shelter on the walk up and back.DSC_0120DSC_0094I caught the Rattlesnake Grass blowing in the wind.  As it dries out, the plant shakes and rattles like its namesake reptile.  DSC_0099The views of the seashore that stretched below us were the closest we got to the beach.  Our host said she had picnicked there in December in shorts – such is the northern U. S. coast.  You never know, so you take lots of layers, even in June.  Needless to say, we skipped the other beaches, although we caught a glimpse of Drake’s Beach.DSC_0092Our carefully made sandwiches with a dessert of gingersnaps from Trader Joe’s and apple slices were eaten in the warmth of the car, a casual picnic before we started back home. Back through the miles of ranches and fields and cows and flowers.  Back along the curvy roads, past the turnoff to Muir Woods, back through the Cypress forests, back to Oakland.  Another wonderfully interesting national wilderness that surprised us with its ruggedness and beauty.