Marin County and Points North
As it turns out, the roads in the Mountains north of San Francisco aren't any more fun to drive in than in the Sierra Nevada, they just don't have any snow on them. When we left Yosemite, we headed for Mill Valley, across the bay from San Francisco. We headed through Fresno and Oakland/Berkeley and crossed the northern part of San Francisco Bay on some bridge whose name I can't remember. As I saw a boat launch, I thought that that might be where Scott Peterson went fishing the day his wife went missing. In retrospect, we probably should have tried to attend one day of the trial. But, I'm sure we had more fun in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area the following day.
When we arrived at the Mountain Home Inn, where Jack London used to hang out, before they tore it down and rebuilt it (kinda destroys the link doesn't it), we were fairly exhausted. Given the choice of visiting some beach whose name I can't remember and Mt. Tamalpais State Park, we chose the latter. The road up was even more windy (whine-dy) than the ones in Yosemite and instead of snow, there were cars and motor homes coming in the opposite direction, something that, due to the weather and our chosen routes in the Sierra Nevada, we didn't have to deal with in those mountains. The payoff was a pretty good view atop Mt. Tamalpais ("tam ul pie iss" as pronounced by the locals, but lets hear 'em pronounce "Natchitoches").
I stood here for about 20 seconds before the 500' drop, 6 inches past me started to freak me out.
I had sherry hold my belt for the pics taken below.
On the way to the lookout atop the mountain, we passed by an astronomical observatory and there was a large gathering of people there to watch the lunar eclipse that would temporarily lift the curse of the Bambino later that night. We also saw a chipmunk on the walk up to the summit.
View of San Francisco and Bay Area from atop Mt. Tamalpais. You can just see a hint of
the Golden Gate Bridge in the center of the photo.
This was the best photo I could get of this fast little bastard.
Mt. Tamalpais is the tallest peak that you see looking north across the bay from San Francisco. However it doesn't actually have the best view of the city. There was a reasonably good view of the city from our window at the Mountain Home Inn and the hotel had a pretty good restaurant so we had dinner there and took in the view. There were no televisions in the rooms so I didn't have to watch the Red Sox win the World Series, but I did get a good view of the lunar eclipse.
Lunar Eclipse from our room at the Mountain Home Inn.
On Thursday, we took it easy, taking in a movie ("I ♥ Huckabees," it sucked) in Sausolito in between trips to the Golden Gate National Recreational Area for shots of the Golden Gate and some bird watching at the Rodeo Beach at the Reyes National Seashore. Having tried my hand at a little bird photography, I now understand how some people are able to get such good shots of birds. The birds in the GGNRA have seen so many people that they just aren't afraid of you and don't fly off. Deer are the same way.
These deer were about 50 yards from me and as long as I didn't actually throw something at them, they weren't concerned.
The area known as Hawk Hill provides probably the best spot from which to photograph the Golden Gate and San Francisco. Hawk Hill is supposedly a place where 20 species of migrating hawks congregate in the fall on their way south. I did see Kestrels and a Northern Harrier in the park, but none of the Red Tail Hawks that are supposedly so numerous there.
Photo of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco from atop Hawk Hill in the GGNRA
The following day, the plan was to go to Sonoma County and view the wine country from a Hot Air Balloon. This meant that we had to get up and check out at about 4:30 a.m. This really wasn't all that much of a problem since we had both been getting up around 5:00 a.m. on the trip due to our complete failure to ever adjust to the time difference. On top of that, the time changed on the day we returned. In any event, getting up early really helped us to avoid traffic on the days we had to drive through San Francisco.