Thursday, August 20, 2009

Point Reyes and the Pacific Ocean

San Francisco: famous for Rice-a-Roni, Alcatraz, and Fisherman's Wharf, setting for shows like Charmed and Full House, home to notables such as Carlos Santana, Tony Arrow, and Joe DiMaggio. Current location of: me.

My trip to San Francisco started three months ago when my college friend Kevin asked if I would be a godparent to his still-in-utero son. Honored, I of course agreed and began to plan and dream of this first visit to California. Finally, I arrived in the wee hours of Thursday morning, grateful to be done flying after a harrowing experience where the Pilot called back to the flight attendant to learn if the oxygen masks had dropped yet.

Once the more reasonable hours of morning arrived, I met up with my friend Justin. We headed across the Golden Gate Bridge and along an impressively curvy route up the coast to Point Reyes National Seashore. Even in the fog, the difference between any portion of the East Coast and this coastline were startling. We stopped in Stinson Beach for coffee, fruit, and a chance to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. We attempted to go hiking near the Muir Woods, but quit after less than an hour when we realized the trails there would not connect us to an ocean view. We drove past various cattle and dairy farms, each labeled with a letter and the year the farm began. Somehow we got stuck behind more than one manure carrier/spreader.

Finally, we reached the Point Reyes lighthouse. It was a short easy walk from the parking area to the top of the promontory. Once there, we were surrounded by fog and signs that teased at the ability to see whales from the cliff. It was time to head down toward the lighthouse. Because of the fog banks that are a regular occurrence in the area, the lighthouse is positioned over four-hundred feet down the embankment. Signs warned of the challenging return trip, but like everyone else, we continued downward.

The lighthouse was an interesting one, shorter than many back East. It had operated for 105 years, which impressed me. Amidst the information about lighthouse operation were quotes from the logs of lighthouse keepers. My favorite: "Fog, fog and nothing but fog...O solitude, where are the charms that sages have such in thy face? Better dwell in the midst of alarms than reign in this horrible place."

The trip back up was not as strenuous as their signs suggested it would be. At the same time, it was the most upward momentum I have accomplished since the infamous ankle injury of October. The last few months of physical therapy had nothing on those steps and that ramp. Every muscle from the quads down to the little ones in the toes were quivering before I made it up. Even the scenic rest stops were not quite enough to allow me ample recovery! Apparently I still have a little ways to go!

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