Vacation to San Francisco, October 2010: Muir Woods

We stayed up late the night before, so we did not hit the road until nearly 10 AM. Lori made delicious scrambled eggs with chopped up bits of leftover steak from the night before, so we had plenty of fuel for the (unbeknown to us at the time) long trek ahead.

I had plugged the directions from Google Maps into my Droid phone, as they had looked the most accurate to me the night before. Things went very well until we got to Olema, CA (10 minutes out from our rental home) and the directions told us to turn on to Sir Francis Drake Blvd. I knew from the night before that the route was supposed to stay on Highway 1 all the way down. I ignored the turn, trusting that the navigation would re-route us correctly. More on that later.


Day Seven RaptorOne of many raptors soaring along the coast

Day Seven Muir Beach Overlook LoriLori poses at Muir Beach Overlook


The drive south out of Point Reyes Station was very scenic, and the roads were twisty and fun to drive. It reminded me a lot of the drive we took up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to Monterey on our honeymoon. Unfortunately, there was a heavy fog rolling in from the ocean, so we did not get to see much of the actual ocean itself along the way.


Day Seven Muir Beach Overlook Spotting StationsMuir Beach Base End Station

Day Seven Muir Beach Overlook Guarding the CoastA sign explaining the purpose of the Base End Stations.


We were fine following the directions right up until we passed the sign for Muir Woods National Monument. We both saw the sign, but trusted the navigation which told us to keep going. I thought there might be a different way in to the park, so we kept going. And we kept going all the way to Sausalito, where the navigation told us our “destination” was the intersection of Turney and Bonita Streets. FAIL.

So then I punched up the directions which were generated by using the GPS co-ordinates given on the official Muir Woods National Monument Web site. Those couldn’t be wrong, could they? Well, we ended up back in Mill Valley, but the nav lead us deeper into a twisty maze of very narrow residential streets until we ended up at our “destination” — someones driveway!

After many “words’ exchanged between us and several miles of twisty, narrow residential roads traversed, we finally emerged back in what appeared to be the down town area of Mill Valley. I stopped a couple of times to get my bearings and compare those to the map (minus any help from the nav). I was then able to plot a route back to where we saw that Muir Woods sign a few hours previous and struck off in that direction.


Day Seven Muir Woods EntranceSign at the entrance to Muir Woods

Day Seven Muir Woods Dwarf Deer

A very tame dwarf deer inside the park


What should have been a 50 minute drive turned into 40 minutes of pleasant, scenic driving followed by a couple hours of being utterly lost. We finally arrived in a parking spot around 1 PM. Fortunately, Lori had packed some leftover apple muffins from the night before so we were able to get some nourishment while we were lost. We spent the next 2 1/2 to 3 hours walking through the woods taking pictures and enjoying our hard-earned prize.

And now, lots of photos of trees!


Day Seven Trees 1The lighting was a bit challenging because it was dark in the woods even though the sun was shining

Day Seven Trees 2
Some fire damaged trees. There were several throughout the park

Day Seven Trees 3
Quite a few trees had fallen across the path, but only the sections blocking the trails had been removed.

Day Seven Trees 4
Rays of sunlight burst between two tall trees.

Day Seven Trees 5
From the bend in Hillside Trail where it doubles back on itself. We had just walked along the right hand side and continued to the left.

Day Seven Trees 6
This photo really shows the contrast between the bright sky and the dark forest floor. A stream ran down the middle of the park with trails on either side and bridges crossing it at several points along the way.


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Vacation in San Francisco, October 2010: Point Reyes Station and Sonoma Winery Tour

Lori prepared a breakfast of eggs and bacon which we had purchased at the Palace Market in town the night before. Our vacation rental home was perfectly situated just outside the main street area, so we were able to walk to the market.


Day Six View From The Rental Home
The morning view from the back deck of our rental home in Point Reyes Station, CA


After breakfast we got ready for our trip through Sonoma County, intending to stop at several wineries for tastings and to pick up some bottles of wine to have each night during the rest of our stay.

Our trip started with about an hour drive over scenic country roads, through Novato and towards Viansa Winery, the first stop on our trip. At Viansa, Lori ordered a $5 flight of their standard vintages, and I went for the $10 flight of their reserve wines. I was a big fan of their special reserve Merlot which was only for sale right there at the winery. We ended up purchasing one bottle to have that night with dinner.


Day Six Viansa Winery Garden Statue

Statue in the garden at the Viansa Winery Day Six Viansa Winery Surrounding LandscapeSurrounding landscape at the Viansa Winery


Next, we drove up the road to Gundlach Bundschu winery. Here, we both had the same flight of wines for about $5 each. Lori really liked their Gewurztraminer which was a drier than usual rendition. We ended up purchasing a bottle of that for the next night.


Day Six Gundlach Bundschu Pinzgauer 712Sadly, we didn’t get to ride in the Pinzgauer at Gundlach Bundschu
Day Six Gundlach Bundschu CaveOne of the caves at Gundlach Bundschu
Day Six Classic Gundlach Bundschu BottlesClassic Gundlach Bundschu bottles prove this is one of the oldest wineries in the region.


We then headed up the road a bit further into Kenwood to visit the Kenwood Vinyards Winery. Since there were over 26 wines to choose from, we decided to each get a $10 flight, but share the tastings so we could taste as many as possible. Again, I really liked a couple of the Merlots and Lori liked their Gewurztraminer. We landed in between with a bubbly rose which we decided would make a good celebratory bottle for our last night here.


Day Six Kenwood Vineyard Tasting Room
The Tasting Room at Kenwood Vineyards


After Kenwood, we decided to take a break from tasting and have some lunch so we headed over to the Chateau St. Jean winery which was just a mile or two up the road. Lori had picked this vineyard because it was described as “just like being in France.” Neither of us have been to France (yet) so we couldn’t really tell if they pulled it off, but we did feel as if we had been transported to a different land. We passed through a beautiful garden area and took many photos before heading to the cafe for some lunch. I ordered a turkey sandwich, some cheese and crackers and a bottle of Chardonnay to share. We just relaxed and enjoyed the food and scenery for the next hour or two. We walked around the garden area again before hitting the road back to Point Reyes Station, about an hour and twenty minute drive which wound through Santa Rosa and Petaluma.


Day Six Chateau St Jean Late Afternoon Lunch

Day Six Chateau St Jean Buildings
Lunch and the administration buildings at Chateau St Jean


Back at home base, we took another short walk to the market to get steaks and a big yam to share for dinner. Lori also got some ingredients to make apple muffins using the apples in the yard of the house. We weren’t really hungry yet, so we lounged around the house for a few hours before starting supper. This turned out to be a bad idea, though, because the yam was so big it took way too long to cook. We ended up having our wine and steaks around 8:30 PM. That translated to 10:30 PM Iowa time, so Lori was very tired by then.

After Lori retired for the night, I stayed up a little longer to research the route for our next day’s trip to Muir Woods National Monument before heading to bed myself. The exact location of Muir Woods seemed to be an Internet mystery, as both Google Maps and the official park Web sites gave two different sets of directions. This spelled out bad news for the next day. . .