11 September, 2015

Family Holiday at Point Reyes National Seashore in California

In early August I joined some of my family for a holiday at Point Reyes National Seashore.  We spent a whole week there and had a marvelous time.

The Cast of Characters:

  • Lizanne - my sister
  • Fred - Lizanne's husband
  • Becki - their daughter, my niece
  • Matthew - Becki's son.  I call him my nephew, but I think the actual relationship is second cousin.
  • Arnie - my brother
Dennis and my other sister and brother-in-law were not able to join us.  :-(  

Lizanne rented a house (using the VRBO website) at the edge of the small town of Point Reyes Station.  It was perfect.  It was the ranchhouse for a dairy farm until a short time ago.  When the family that owns it stopped farming at this location, they restored the pastures to wetland/estuary and began to rent the house out.  Funds from the house rental help support the continuing restoration of the wetlands, which is quite impressive.  
View of the old barn from the kitchen garden.  The wetlands and estuary are on the far side of the barn.
A view of the barn with the house to the left from a path in the wetlands.  Lots of late summer flowers were in bloom.
Colorful developing seedhead.
Honeybee on thistle.
Lots of honeybee activity.
Got pollen?
Teasel in bloom.
Wild blackberries were everywhere!  But they had a very bitter taste, even when they were fully ripe.
This morning glory and rose covered fence was alongside one of the houses in Point Reyes Station.  It is a picturesque town.
If you look closely, you can see that the eagle has caught a salmon.  Abalone shells decorate the gateposts.  We saw some large sculptures made from abalone shells.
Point Reyes National Seashore covers a large peninsula.  This is a view to the north from the southwest tip.
Black tailed deer family.
The orange growth is an alga, not a lichen, like I thought at first.
We hiked the Wittenburg Trail to the highest point on the peninsula.  The vegetation was beautiful and lush from the cool fogs that roll in almost every day,
Not sure what the flower is but it looks sort of like a gladiolus. Derek suggested that it might Crocosmia, and I believe he is right.  Thanks Derek!.
The orange color just glows.
Becki (green jacket), Arnie (dark blue), Lizanne (with orange pack), Fred at the front with Matthew as we hiked the Wittenburg Trail.  This was the easy part.
Lots of lichens and mosses on the trees.
A family of California quail was also hiking on the trail.
The light coming through the lichen- and moss-covered trees was fabulous.
From the near the top you could look out and see the bay in the cleft between the 2 forested hills. The ranchhouse where we stayed is on the far side of the bay, hidden by the hills to the right of the photo.
More gorgeous light through the lichens.
The survey marker at the peak.  Unfortunately, there was no view because the trees were so dense.  Still, it was a lovely place.
Matthew found some interesting creatures on the return trip.  Here he is with a centipede
I really couldn't get enough of the light!
A horse trough for the equestrians.  Well actually their horses.  ;-)
Matthew with a legless lizard.  He got lots of great photos.
The north end of the peninsula is home to tule elk.  
Looking out over the Pacific and the incoming fog.
Lizanne and Fred taking in the view.  
I called this the batman beetle.  Can you see why?
We had a fantastic time.  The house had a swimming pool that we all played in. Matthew and I made daily use of it and had a grand time playing catch.  One day we headed to Hog Island Oyster Company and bought 60 large oysters which Fred single handedly shucked.  He grilled most of them and then the next day Lizanne fried the remainder.  We also took full advantage of the Cowgirl Creamery located in Point Reyes Station to stock up on their award-winning cheeses.  It's a good thing we did all that hiking and swimming because we spent the rest of the time eating and drinking!  It was a great trip, the only way it would have been better would have been if Dennis and my other sister and brother-in-law could have joined us.

A beach update before I close:  the breakwater seems to be working well.  The crew have extended it almost to the south end of the beach.  Next we will take it farther to the north.  We are keeping the top of the breakwater right at the height of the water at low tide.  The highest high tide is only 18 inches higher than the lowest low tide, unless, as often happens, the wind is pushing the tide in higher.  The breakwater is covered at high tide and the waves can ride over it.  But the breakwater absorbs quite a bit of the energy of the waves so they don't pound the shore so hard.  Quite a bit of sand has built up in front of the cliff, creating a nice slope.  Things are looking up.


  1. What an amazing escape. My in-laws also use VRBO when they travel. They'd found some pleasant places to stay but never anything like those. Wow. Wow. WOW!

    1. It was amazing. The house was large and comfortable, not pretentious or too precious. And very affordable - it worked out to less than $70/night per person. Ping-pong table, propane grill, picnic tables, pool and pool toys. But the best part was the excellent company; can't buy that!

    2. Wilma,
      What a terrific holiday and scenery, most enviable.
      I'm pretty sure that the orange flower is a wild, species form of what in the UK is known as Crocosmia. Many hybrid forms are grown as garden flowers.

    3. Derek - yes, I just checked Crocosmia and that does seem to be what it is. Thanks for the tip. Stunning flower. Cheers.

  2. Looks like a very enjoyable away break.
    There is a garden not far from me which has a clump of montbretia (Crocosmia) growing. It was one of my mother's favourites.
    Love the beetle.
    Pleased all the hard work on your breakwater is paying off.

    1. I can see why the Crocosmia was one of your mother's favorites. Seems to thrive on neglect, too!
      We are relieved that the beach is getting better, not worse. Thanks.

  3. Lovely to catch up with you with all the latest news.


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