I made a solo trip to see our California kids last weekend, since my hubby had to make a long trip to Europe, and it was a good weekend for me to visit them. My daughter mentioned the possibility of us visiting the Point Reyes area together for the weekend, so after spending a little time exploring options for lodging on the internet, I found a great place for us to stay on Saturday night. It was also one of the few hotels that did not require a two-night minimum on that weekend. Lodging is quite limited in this entire area, so an advance reservation is definitely required on a weekend, or a least a spring weekend when so many people seem to be in this area for wildflowers and whale watching at the point.
On Wednesday, I shared some of the many beautiful flowers I saw on this trip, both at the hotel and inside the national park, Wordless Wednesday – The Flowers of Point Reyes National Seashore. We saw some gorgeous flowers, to be sure.
I included details of the entire weekend in this post, making it a bit longer than what I normally share. I haven’t been on much of a writing roll lately, so I felt it better to share the entire trip here while I had the time to do so, rather than possibly dragging it out.
This was my first time to fly out of a different airport in my part of the state. I saved over $200 to simply drive two hours to this airport, and I was able to get better connections as well, even though it is a smaller airport. On my second flight on Friday evening, I flew into the Norman Y. Mineta International Airport in San Jose, and it was a beautiful sunset flight across some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. I always love the flight from Denver to the bay area, but it is especially scenic from the air with snow still on the Rocky Mountains. Seeing this sight just before sunset on this trip was extra special, too.
Flying over Denver at sunset
The Rocky Mountains at sunset
Daughter picked me up at the airport, and we enjoyed a few hours together before her hubby got home from a late meeting. We also discovered that my airbed had a small leak in it, so after debating some options, we found ourselves at Target just before midnight buying another airbed. It was actually a delightful and fun time, and we “made some memories.” They are now the proud owners of a brand spanking new Coleman airbed that has a built-in electric pump for added convenience. I have to say it was very comfortable, too.
On Saturday morning, we all dropped by a local Starbucks for a quick breakfast and coffee before hitting the road to Point Reyes, and I always enjoy visiting some of the stores that they frequent. That may sound odd, but it’s just interesting to see these places that are a regular part of their daily lives now. The drive to Point Reyes took about 1.5 hours, and many people were out on their bicycles as we arrived in the area on a perfect weather day.
The Point Reyes Seashore Lodge was a nice place for us to stay. It is only a few miles from Point Reyes Station, and it is one of very few lodging options in the area with close proximity to the main areas of the national seashore. We found it to be a delightful little place with a good restaurant on the property where we dined on Saturday evening. The grounds were immaculate with a beautiful stream on property, and we were able to just hike to the Bear Valley Visitor Center in the national park, which was only about a half mile away on a nice trail. We also enjoyed a good complimentary continental breakfast at the hotel on Sunday morning, too. The rooms are heated and cooled through radiant heating and cooling in the floor. Yes, the floor. If this might not be for you, think twice prior to staying here. I only got a bit warm late in the afternoon when we had full sun on the windows, and I slept with one window cracked open just a bit for some fresh air.
Point Reyes Seashore Lodge
My room with a view
Beautiful garden at Point Reyes Seashore Lodge
Pretty stream on property
We also dined twice at the Station House Café in Point Reyes Station. We ate lunch there when we first arrived in the area on Saturday, and we also ate appetizers and dinner there on Sunday evening. That proved to be an especially fun experience, too. We arrived at the restaurant too early for dinner on Sunday, so we started with appetizers in the bar, then decided to just stay for dinner when we saw a band setting up to play live music. The group was a fabulous blue-grass band, and the longer they played, the more the locals and visitors started streaming in to hear them. By the time we left, our table was quite coveted and was quickly grabbed by another group.
There are so many great hiking trails in the national park, and we made three nice hikes in the short time we were in the area.
Our first hike on Saturday afternoon took us on an informal trail from our hotel to the Bear Valley Visitor Center, which was a .6 mile hike with only a small incline.
A short hike to the visitor center from our hotel
Bear Valley Visitor Center
We looked around the visitor center for a few minutes, then we opted to hike the Arch Rock Trail for a while. It is a long trail, and it is also now closed further down the trail after a tragic collapse that killed one person about a month ago. We hiked to beautiful Divide Meadow, and it was a steady uphill climb most of the way to that point. Restrooms were available at Divide Meadow, and it would be a great place for a picnic while on this hike. From this point, the trail starts to go back down toward the ocean, but we opted to turn around and head back to our hotel and get ready for dinner that evening.
Hiking the Arch Rock Trail
Divide Meadow on the Arch Rock Trail
After dining at the hotel that evening, we decided to play pool in the game room at the hotel. Daughter beat her hubby in the first match, then I took her on in the second match. She was amazed that I knew how to play pool, and I regaled her with the story of how I met her dad and smacked him good in a game of pool on that first meeting, long before we ever started dating. She was pretty fascinated by it all, and I will need to brush up on my pool game for future matches, as she beat me quite soundly.
On Sunday morning, we ate a quick breakfast at the hotel, then drove to the Ken Patrick Visitor Center in the national park. This is where we were required to catch a park shuttle bus to the drop areas for the two trails that we planned to hike that day. The shuttle is also $7 per person and exact change was required – good to know if you plan to go at some point and plan to pay with cash.
Unlike the Bear Valley Visitor Center, which was located in a more wooded area, this one sat on a beautiful beach.
Ken Patrick Visitor Center
Beach at Ken Patrick Visitor Center
Beach at Ken Patrick Visitor Center with Chimney Rock in the distance
Pathways and flowers on the beach
Shuttle bus to the Point Reyes Lighthouse and Chimney Rock trails
Our first hike on Sunday morning took us to the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse. No doubt, this is the primary sight to see in the national park, too. While I’m not sure this is technically a hike per se, the trek to the lighthouse is certainly a hike unto itself, since it is a half-mile hike uphill from the shuttle bus stop area to the lighthouse visitor center, as well as an additional walk via 308 steps down and back to the lighthouse, covering a 365 foot vertical drop/climb each way. A sign nearby shows this to be the equivalent of descending and ascending a 30-story building. Fortunately, this was our first hike on Sunday morning. My legs definitely felt that climb back up, but I made it just fine with a few rest stops along the way. It was worth the effort, too. The historic lighthouse was a special sight to see, especially for me as I love lighthouses and seldom get to see them in person like this. I will always remember and treasure seeing this special historic lighthouse, for sure.
The lighthouse area here on the point is also one of the foggiest and windiest places on the west coast, but we were fortunate to have a calm and beautiful day. This is likely the exception rather than the norm here, too. I’m not sure how I would have made the steep climb down to and up from the lighthouse if the wind had been blowing hard. If the wind is blowing 40 mph or higher, the steps to the lighthouse are closed for safety reasons, and I totally understand why. Whale watching is a big activity here in the spring months, but unfortunately, we did not see any while we were here, even though several had been spotted earlier that day.
Wind and fog at the lighthouse
One point of interesting trivia about the Point Reyes Lighthouse is the fact that the movie, The Fog (1979), was filmed here. That movie is one that my family enjoyed and my hubby still likes to watch on occasion even today. For more information on those filming locations, check out Film Location for The Fog. I’m not much for scary movies, but The Fog was a good one.
Point Reyes National Seashore at the lighthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse Hours
Hike to Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse National Register of Historic Places
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Fresnel Lens dates back to 1867 – Paris, France – Point Reyes Lighthouse
308 Steps at Point Reyes Lighthouse – a challenging climb
After hiking to the lighthouse, we then caught the shuttle bus to the trailhead for the Chimney Rock trail. It was the easiest trail of our trip with only a slight incline on part of the trail. While the Arch Rock Trail was wooded with quite a bit of shade, the Chimney Rock Trail was wide open on a peninsula with ocean on both sides of us, and it was so neat to see a large group of elephant seals sunning on one of the beaches along the way.
Hiking is such a great activity for the body and soul, especially when you have the opportunity to hike in such beautiful places as this. Hikes like these inspire me to stay in good shape so that I can try to keep up with my kids on such fun adventures in the future, too.
Elephant Seals sunning on a beach near Chimney Rock
Near Chimney Rock
Beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore
After our hiking was done, we took the shuttle bus back to the visitor center, ate dinner in Point Reyes Station and started our drive back to San Francisco via a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. My hotel for the night was near SFO, so it made sense to take this route on the way. Garmin also surprised us by taking us on a new little road that was populated with some beautiful redwoods, which was quite a surprise for us.
Surprised by a patch of Redwoods on our drive
I always enjoy seeing the Golden Gate Bridge again. It is such an awesome sight.
Golden Gate Bridge, driving into San Francisco
While my quick little weekend trip was too short, as always, I’m glad to have spent some quality time with the kids again, seeing some of God’s fabulous handiwork and enjoying their company, especially right now. We had some really deep conversations, such as why some eggs are white and some are brown, and what exactly the distinction is between a brook, a creek and a stream. We coined a new word to just make it easy and cover them all – a brook-creek-stream! You heard it here first.
Sadly, my times with them are few and far between, for sure, but this quick visit definitely helped to brighten my spirits as I continue to maneuver my way through this first hard year after losing my mother, our last living parent, back in January. I found myself fighting back tears on a couple of occasions on the trip, especially as I recalled bringing Mom along on our first trip to the bay area a few years ago. I’m so glad we took her with us on that memorable trip now, too. While memories can be a little hard at times like this, they are still bright lights that make our lives better if we look for them and treasure them. They are kind of like lighthouses, I guess. That is one reason I like to photograph and write about times like this now. I want to hang onto these special, beautiful memories that are such blessings in my life.
In a post just a few weeks ago, I lamented on how I needed Spring to get here. I got a great big dose of it on this trip, not just in the sights I saw but especially the company I had with me. I also got a beautiful dose of it a couple of weeks ago in the Texas bluebonnets, too. I am blessed – so blessed indeed. Life goes on.
I highly recommend visiting Point Reyes National Seashore, but keep in mind that the lighthouse is closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Just be sure to keep that in mind and visit on a day that it is open, since it is the primary sight to see here. Visiting on a good weather day with calm winds would be a bonus, too.
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