We planned to leave Bets and Bryan in peace to catch up on their backlogs of work that inevitably built up during their first trip away from home. We were off to call in on our friends Gordon and Kim Simpson in San Francisco for a few days, returning by Thursday in time to cover Bets and Bryan’s trip #2.
Rather than thrash south straight down US 101 from Petaluma to San Francisco, we decided to meander down the much more rural and picturesque highway 1. This route took us down beside the now familiar Tomales Bay and, once again through Point Reyes Station and Olema before hitting the coast.
Once on the coast, we made a slight detour to an intriguing little place called Bolinas. It has a reputation for shunning tourists by removing signs and attempting to make Bolinas itself a little less advertised and a little more difficult to find. Having foiled the locals and found it, we were left wondering what all the fuss was about and why many people would bother in the first place. Simply keep a low profile and I’d say most folks would naturally bypass the place anyway. Curiosity sated, we continued down the picturesque coast.
Next brief stop: Stinson Beach. We paused to look but neither of us fancied getting sandy feet by dipping our toes in the Pacific – I couldn’t even tempt Carol with an ice cream – so we returned to our journey.
This road is not most peoples’ idea of an archetypal American road. As it hugs the coast it follows the frequent coastal wrinkles faithfully, twisting and turning around inlets, climbing over hills and diving into valleys. It is a veritable roller-coaster of a road. The fair ride continues as the road leaves the coast and starts heading inland to join 101. We were both feeling a little unsettled and were quite relieved as the road finally straightened out and became more American in design.
We decided that we had recovered sufficiently to risk a final short detour up into the Marin headlands immediately prior to crossing the Golden Gate bridge. Here, given clear enough weather, tourists are rewarded with spectacular views over the Golden Gate bridge itself to the city of San Francisco beyond. As man-made sights go, this one takes a bit of beating. We’ve done it before but it is not something we’d tire of. The atmosphere was a little hazy but the bridge and city were essentially clear.
Gordon and Kim had given us clear instructions of a simple route off the Golden Gate bridge to their house on the far west of the San Francisco peninsular. We arrived to find that they are in what appears to be the furthest west residential street there is. It may be in what is called the fog zone but they are rewarded with views of a park rather than of other houses and, between the trees, views of the Pacific itself. Fewer residences also provides the rare bonus of ample street parking for visitors. We should keep this a closely guarded secret.
A delivered curry provided an excellent vehicle for a reunion dinner; a reunion which included Tina and John Casey. Max, Gordon and Kim’s cat, seemed a little upset that we had stolen his bedroom but otherwise a splendid time was had by all, I think. We will try and placate Max with affection.