San Francisco Botanical Garden, more than 7,500 varieties of flora from across the globe, stretching across 55 acres. We walked through the Ancient Plant Garden (“primitive” plant garden, which offers millions of years of change) and the Rhododendron Garden before I met my friend Bonnie from Minnesota who was visiting her sister who lives in Marin County.
Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest public Japanese garden in all of the United States, where we walked through the lush, peaceful pathways passing rock gardens, Buddhas, temples, crawled up the Drum Bridge (which reflects a perfect circle), then had tea and cookies at the Tea House. It was so great seeing Bonnie, who after battling cancer is looking and feeling great, her smile brightening everyone's day as it always has, and it was wonderful meeting some of her fun, generous family, who insisted on picking up the tab and offered me their place to crash :)
Sunday, May 29th
|The Campanile (Sather Tower)
Next I drove through old, active livestock ranches past several milk cows to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, built in 1870, retired from service in 1975 when the U.S. Coast Guard installed an automated light to save money (as is the case now with all lighthouses in the U.S.). I walked about 3/4 of a mile from the line of cars backed up onto the shoulder of the road down from the small, overflowing parking lot, and down the narrow staircase of 308 stairs to the little old lighthouse 300 feet below the top of the cliff. It is now a museum piece, "where the era of the lightkeepers' lives, the craftsmanship and the beauty of the lighthouse are actively preserved." You can enter the lighthouse from 2:30-4:30 and hear a ranger talk, as I did.
Upon leaving the lighthouse area I drove the narrow road to nearby Chimney Rock, and hiked a little footpath to Elephant Seal Overlook, where I had the opportunity to see the large colony resting on the beach flipping sand onto themselves, and powerfully trumpeting while horse-playing in the water. This was the highlight of my visit!
Then I drove down to Limantour Beach, a long, narrow spit of sand and bountiful wildlife area, bound between Drakes Bay and an estuary (so pretty, and my favorite part of the beach). My travel book described this beach as picturesque, but after a little research, I think I should've tried Drakes Beach, instead.
Before returning to Justin's, I had dinner at Farm House Restaurant in Olema, bordering the park. My guidebook hyped up the enormous bbq oysters, "a famous regional delicacy" the place supposedly serves up; a dozen for $18. Well the oysters were good, but there's no 12 for $18 and they're nowhere near the size of the palm of one's hand. "Barbequed Drakes Bay Oysters" are twelve [typical-sized] oysters for $29 (ouch!), with a choice of Sartain's Sauce of Petaluma (spicy chipotle), Mango-Bourbon Barbeque Sauce (hot 'n tangy), or Roasted Garlic Butter (very light flavor). My request of all three sauces was happily accommodated, but a little overkill as usual (I heart condiments). I have no idea what plain oysters taste like. Maybe I need to learn to pull the reigns in a little, lol.
This morning bright and early I packed up and said goodbye to my good friend Justin before he went to work. Before leaving the bay area, I stopped at "Albany Bulb," a former landfill on a peninsula, to check out the sculptures mentioned in my "Weird U.S." guidebook. "Because the Bulb is geographically unorganized and seldom patrolled by the Albany Police Department, it is often described as Anarchical. Many groups, including urban artists, local homeless, dog-walkers, teenagers, and environmentalists, use the Bulb area and feel they have a stake in it." The bulb supposedly contains "a vast array of urban art including mural, stencil, graffiti, sculpture, and installation art."
The place is sketchy, so I parked my car a safe distance away, and walked a portion of the Waterfront Trail overlooking The Albany Mudflat to a large sculpture with graffiti reading "Look Out," and I knew I was in the right place. I asked a gentleman on his bicycle where I should go from here, and he pointed accordingly and informed me the place isn't what it used to be, with much of the art not still intact, and that the place is inhabited by homeless. He said if I play it cool then they'll play it cool. I did some exploring but finished a lot sooner than I had originally anticipated, feeling a little uneasy and unsafe. In short, you can skip this place.