Saturday, May 19, 2012
Point Reyes National Seashore to Knoxville

We started the day with a breakfast of leftover Mexican food, packed our rental car for the last time – we're leaving on a red-eye flight tonight – and checked out of our '70s-decor Motel 6 paradise. We're in California. Let's go to the beach!

A scenic drive through the redwoods up Sir Francis Drake Boulevard brought us to Point Reyes National Seashore, a 71,000-acre wilderness area located in Marin County on a peninsula jutting into the Pacific.

After stopping at the Bear Valley Visitor Center to get a map, we headed to McClures Beach, where we took a short, steep hike through beautiful wildflowers to a scenic cove surrounded by steep bluffs. We didn't actually venture into the 50-degree pounding surf, though. Get real! So this is what coast would look like if it wasn't overrun with hotels and condos. Nice!

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Point Reyes National Seashore

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Tom at the beach

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Did Jana forget to claim the Pacific Ocean?

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McClures Beach

Leaving McClures Beach, we came across some tule elk, reintroduced to the park in 1999. Before 1860, thousands of elk roamed the peninsula.

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Tule elk

We explored a number of side roads, vistas, and beaches before arriving at the Point Reyes Lighthouse, “the windiest place on the Pacific Coast,” according to the National Park Service, and I'm a believer! Very scenic.

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View from Mount Vision Road

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Point Reyes Beach North

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Point Reyes Lighthouse

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From the lighthouse trail

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The windy lighthouse trail

Chimney Rock was our last stop at Point Reyes Seashore. It was windy here too. We ate the last of our sandwich stuff and organized our gear one last time, as we drop off our car in three hours. While eating, we were lucky enough to spot a whale! It was a brief glimpse, but this late in the whale-watching season, it's a wonder we saw one at all.

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View from Chimney Rock

We took the 1 south down the coast, a winding drive with dramatic scenery, like a little Big Sur. Then we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, drove through San Francisco, and soon arrived at the airport. I left the $1.00 pocketknife I'd purchased at the beginning of our trip with the girl where we turned in the rental car. Tom left his hiking poles at Chimney Rock. We had to give these things up to avoid checking a bag.

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Pacific Coast along Highway 1


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Golden Gate Bridge

After boarding our plane, a long delay, and ultimately a replacement plane, our four-hour layover in Detroit turned into just enough time to board our flight to Knoxville. Good enough. We arrived home at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday to a somewhat indifferent Carlos and then picked up a thrilled Spike at the kennel at 4:00. It was a great trip!

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