Sausalito Sunday, et al

Sunday, July 8 I started my day by going back in to Sausalito, California which wasn’t very far from where I was staying in San Rafael.  When I left town a few days earlier I discovered a whole area facing San Francisco which I didn’t know existed.  I also wanted to go to a taco shop which had been highly recommended but which wasn’t open the day after the 4th of July.

The taco shop didn’t open until 11 so I killed some time down by the marina.




These were at the taco shop where I had lunch.  They reminded me of a metal car with a surfboard on top that a friend of mine gave me when he learned how much I like to drive.



As I was walking back to my car I passed a very fragrant plant which I found very pleasant.  I asked someone who was walking their dog on that street and they told me it is a Star Jasmine.


I then drove to the part of Sausalito I only saw briefly a few days earlier.





And lo a behold, here was another office for Engel & Volkers, the high-end German based realtors I mentioned in an earlier post.


This office is in the original Sausalito Firehouse:


I did a little window shopping….

How about this nice mansion near Seattle:


(Photo credit:

4 bedrooms, 6.25 baths, 15,127 square feet.  It can be yours for $20 million.  I guess in this bracket making it $ 19,999,995 won’t win anyone over.

Or how about this yacht – the Seven Sins:

SevenSins2 EngelVolker

SevenSins EngelVolkers

(Photo credit:

This 171 foot beauty is on the French Riviera.  If you don’t want the hassle of ownership you may rent it for a mere $332,915 per week (high season) or the bargain price of $315,392 per week (low season).

Or how about the maYbe:


(Photo credit:

You can own this 193 foot yacht and sail it from the French Riviera to the dock of your choice for a cool $40.825 million.


After getting my head out of the clouds I moved on.  I decided to head back out to the coast, taking a slightly different route than I had on Thursday.  Before getting off “The 101” onto Route 1 I saw this tour helicopter getting ready to take off with a group of sightseers:


And parked nearby was this seaplane:


I was tempted to go for a ride but am going to wait until later in the trip when I’m back in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  Last year I visited with a couple who operate a seaplane operation there but no other passengers showed up while I was there and the pilot would only go up with two or more passengers.  They were very nice and I think I’ll save my business for them.

I headed back up towards Point Reyes National Seashore.  I wanted to drive the third road there which would take me out to one of the beaches.  Before I got there I stopped at the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, located at the extreme south end of the property.  It was way out towards the end of what became a dirt road.  There wasn’t anyone there but there were directions to a path.  It didn’t look very heavily traveled, and I was a little leery about heading out alone, so I left.  I did manage to get a photo of a bird chirping away at the top of a nearby tree.  I have no idea what kind of bird it is.



As I headed back out to the main road I passed what turns out to be a Coast Guard communications facility.  There were a number of unusual antennas scattered about the property.



Point Reyes National Seashore

On Saturday, July 7, while I was staying in San Rafael, California (just north of San Francisco) I made a trip out to Point Reyes National Seashore.  It operates under the jurisdiction of the US National Park Service and is a triangular piece of land which covers approximately 111 square miles.  The long side of the triangle is about 33 miles in length, starting north of Stinson Beach, CA and running northwest up as far as Tomales, CA.  The southern half of that 33 mile stretch is “connected” to the mainland whereas the portion just north of the town of Point Reyes Station is separated from the mainland by Tomales Bay.  To see a map, Google “NPS Point Reyes Map” and on the first page you find select “Park Map”.

Saturday I drove up to the town of Olema and got on the access road out to Point Reyes.  I arrived around 10 o’clock in the morning and there was some coastal fog in certain areas but it was not terrible.  I drove through the town of Inverness and stopped to take a few pictures there:

Looking to the right (southeast) it was sunny and clear…


… but looking to the left, over more of the Bay, it was foggy:


The sun was trying hard to burn off the fog and did peek through partially.  These two pictures were literally taken just 6 seconds apart:


Further up the road, however, it was still overcast:


I continued north on what is the main road through the Seashore, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.  Shortly after turning away from the mainland beyond the town of Inverness I turned right on Pierce Point Road and drove north on it until it ended near the northern tip of the triangle.  If I were a hiker I could have continued walking north up in to the Tule Elk Reserve (and would probably have seen some elk) but I did not do that.

Shortly after turning right I stopped in this area of trees as the fog was rapidly moving from left to right across the road.  It seemed darker than what these photos show (I probably had my sunglasses on) and with the rapid movement of the fog and the chill in the air it created a rather eerie, almost macabre sensation.  Although it was 1025 in the morning I found myself thinking I was glad it wasn’t 1025 PM on Halloween with a full moon!



This was looking right, away from the road:


I couldn’t see ANYTHING to the left, as that was where the fog was coming from.

Further up the road the fog lifted enough that I could see things in the distance.  I was pleased that my pictures of this field of flowers turned out ok.



I drove north until the road ended, then turned around and went back to Sir Francis Drake Road.  I turned right on it which would then curve left and take me out to the tip of the triangle (the furthest point west in the ocean).  This is where I would find the Point Reyes Lighthouse.  First I had to get there….

I drove out to the ocean at both the North and South beach access roads.  The fog had lifted even more, though as you will soon see I wasn’t quite done with it yet.  I believe this was looking out at the ocean from the South Beach access road:


Then I continued out towards the lighthouse, traveling southwest away from the mainland.  Here is the view I had of the top of the Point, where I presumed the lighthouse would be.  Totally socked in by fog.  This photo was literally taken at noon:  12:00:00:066


I drove as close to the peak as I was allowed to but had to park the car and walk the remainder of the way.  I had seen a sign at the Visitor Center that Point Reyes is the windiest and foggiest place in on the west coast.  Think it wasn’t windy??  This is how the trees near the peak grow:


Believe me, it was VERY cold and VERY windy at noon on this Saturday!

Well, I walked past the highest point and started to descend on the other side.  I was puzzled.  Where was the lighthouse??  Well, much to my surprise, I found it way down by the ocean:


I didn’t go down the stairs to see it because then I’d have to come back up!.  They put it down there because of the persistent and heavy fog.  I believe the Ranger told me it is only 250 feet above the ocean.

As I walked back towards my car I noticed that some of the fog at the peak was finally starting to burn off so I could now see northeast along much of the length of Point Reyes Beach.




And when I drove back to Inverness it was much sunnier there than it had been in the morning:


In a few days I would return to Point Reyes and drive out Limantour Road which would take me to Limantour Beach.

The Presidio

On Friday, July 6 I visited The Presidio, a former military base located between downtown San Francisco and the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.  This site served as a military base for three countries – Spain, Mexico and the United States.  The US Army, which occupied it from 1848 through 1994, turned it over to the National Park Service which now oversees it as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The Presidio (there are several in the US but this is by far the largest and best known) covers more than 1,500 acres and includes former barracks, an airfield, a bowling alley and a cemetery.  It now also has a golf course, hiking and bicycle trails and open park space for the public to enjoy.  Since this was once a military base there are also many concrete “bunkers” which were once used to protect the base and the San Francisco Bay from an enemy attack.



These were houses for military pilots:


And this is the view descending down to the airfield (Crissy Field) from where they are located:



The large grassy area is where airplanes used to take off and land:


These were the general barracks, and a large, grassy “parade field”:


The red things are large plastic chairs (to either sit up in or lounge)…


… as demonstrated by these cheerful volunteers:


Anyone lose a set of car keys???


A group of school kids who had been frolicking on the grassy field found these.  When no one claimed them they were going to put them back where they found them, but I suggested that they give them to me and I’d take them to the nearby Visitor Center.  I used the panic button on the key fob to locate the car and take a picture of the license plate.  I took the keys and car information to the Visitor Center and put a note on the car.  Before I left the property the keys and car owner had been reunited.

One of the former barracks buildings has been renovated and is now a Walt Disney Museum:


And the one next to it is now the Lodge at The Presidio:


Next I went to pay my respects at the San Francisco National Cemetery:




And before I left I went back to take one more look at the Golden Gate Bridge:



Egad!  While researching facts about The Presidio for this post I discovered that I missed my chance to see the Yoda Fountain!

Yoda-Fountain TheSomewhere

(Photo credit:

LucasFilms, Ltd, the company which made the original StarWars movies, is based in San Francisco and their headquarters are on the grounds of The Presidio.  I guess The Force wasn’t with me the day I was there…

Go Back There Again, I Must


Nike Missile Base

This missile base is located just northwest of the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.  According to our tour guide this is the only active site in the United States (we got to keep one and the Russians got to keep one).  The Nike program (pronounced like the sneaker:  NIKE-ee) was started in 1954 and at it’s peak there were more than 300 missile sites scattered around the outer boundries of the country, mainly on the west coast and in Alaska.  I remember that as a kid I saw a Nike Missile Base along Lake Michigan in Chicago (we never knew if the Russians would launch an attack over the North Pole and approach the US over Canada).  There were bases near major US cities and military installations.

The Nike missile was a ground-to-air anti-aircraft tool which carried a small nuclear payload.  Using 1950’s and 60’s technology (long before onboard computer guidance systems were developed) only one missile could be launched from a particular base at a time and it was guided by using two radar systems – one to track the enemy aircraft and one for the missile.  A human would then use radio commands to “steer” the missile to it’s target.  The goal wasn’t to strike it, but merely get close enough so the concussion of the small nuclear blast would damage or destroy it.  The Nike’s were the last line of defense in case an enemy aircraft got past other detection systems and evaded our aircraft.  No Nike missile was ever fired in anger.

These are the two radar antennas:


The missiles here could be launched and controlled from one of four places: one of the white trailers to the left in the next photo, the Master Control Center located atop the mountain in the background, another white trailer located elsewhere on the property, or the underground portion of the base (which you’ll see shortly).


After a short walk our tour guide took us underground to see the missiles (I believe there were 6 of them).


Our guide had a female volunteer from the tour group push one of the missiles (which are mounted on rails) to the side.  I forget how much he said it weighed but it was substantial and she could easily push it sideways.


One by one these missiles could be moved to an elevator where they were lifted above ground (which only took about a minute – I shot video but can’t post it on the blog).  Once they raised one of the missiles above ground we went back upstairs:


The front of the missile would then be raised on an angle and it would be launched.  You can probably find video of test launches on YouTube.




Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Friday I ended my trip on part of the godforsaken road to The Lost Coast by traversing 6 1/2 miles of recently paved roadway through this State Park.  It was a welcome relief after being on the “Motorific Torture Track” (a toy car set I had when I was a kid) for over two hours.  When they repaved the road through the Park last year they laid it over the existing road which snakes through the trees in a series of lazy curves.  In places the pavement runs right up against the base of the trees.

Some of the pavement in the next photo is obscured by the brown wood chips and dead pine needles.


The next two photos try to illustrate how the road bends around the trees.  In the first, you can barely see my car parked in the distance.


In the this photo I stepped out a short ways into the roadway so you can see how the road bends back to the right just beyond the tree:


If you aren’t very careful, and as you move right in your lane as you meet oncoming traffic, it is actually possible to hit a tree without any of your tires leaving the pavement.