Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Located due west of our home base in Napa is Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS). The drive to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, however, was anything but direct, taking almost 90 minutes along a circuitous route between the two points.

The cultural history of Point Reyes reaches back some 5,000 years to the Coast Miwok Indians who were the first human inhabitants of the Peninsula. Over 120 known village sites exist within the park.

In the early 1800s, Mexican land grantees established ranchos. They were followed by a wave of American agricultural operations, which continue to this day in the Seashore's pastoral zone.

As we neared the lighthouse, we passed about a half dozen farms designated as "historic farms." Some were working diary farms and at least one (right) offered lodging.

The Seashore's webpage describes it as "...a sanctuary for myriad plant and animal species and for the human spirit—-for discovery, inspiration, solitude, and recreation—-and exists as a reminder of the human connection to the land."

Along the route, the trees provided evidence of one of the two distinctive features of PRNS--"Point Reyes is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast."

The Seashore was established " preserve and protect wilderness, natural ecosystems, and cultural resources along the diminishing undeveloped coastline of the western United States."

But it was the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse, built in 1870, that we had come to see.

Reaching the final section of the road to the Lighthouse, we realized we had failed to observe Rule #2 of traveling--call ahead to be sure a destination point is open.
"Closed Tuesdays and Wednes-days" and a Ranger's statement to not walk beyond the gate ended our drive just short of our planned destination.

So, with the hope of catching a glimpse of the Pacific, we took the trail leading south of the closed drive.

The fog added a touch of mystery to the trail. We were left wondering how far the trail led before reaching view of the lighthouse, a beach, or a cliff's edge.

We could hear the surf below, but we could only catch glimpses of the ocean between movement of the fog.

Oh, yes, the second distinctive feature of the PRNS? It is "...the second foggiest place on the North American continent. Weeks of fog, especially during the summer months, frequently reduce visibility to hundreds of feet. "

Kind of made us wonder how Sir Francis Drake, who, according to many experts, landed here in 1579 avoided being shipwrecked. (Possibly he arrived in the fall, winter, or spring.)

So, while the fog prevented us from taking photos of landscape and seascape vistas, we used the opportunity to look for the beauty of the small scenes.

Our brief visit to the Lighthouse was enough to convince us to return, maybe not in the summer and definitely not on Tuesday or Wednesday.

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