2012 Thanksgiving Road Trip - 11/20/2012 - 11/21/2012 (Part Three)
November 28, 2012
We left the Best Western in Novato for the second time on the morning of 11/20/2012. It was raining, foggy and damp. It stayed that way the entire day. No complaints from this traveler! We drove to our gas station, filled up, and then headed north of highway 101. We took the south Novato Blvd turnoff. We spotted a Auto Parts dealer and popped in to get "Sea Foam", an additive I found on the internet when googling the car's stuttering problem.
We headed back to Pt Reyes National Seashore by following the road we left it yesterday. We followed the Pt Reyes/ Petaluma road to Pt Reyes stopping now and then to take photos of the beautiful rolling green hills, the gnarled oak trees, scrub oak and other exotic (to our eyes) flora.
The rolling hills have dairy cows and farms. We stopped off at the "Cheese Factory" a road side store cum tourist attraction specializing in local bries and other soft cheeses. It had a nice pond filled with Canadian geese, and picnic tables. We browsed, signed the book and headed for the road.
We decided to bypass the Bear Valley Visitor center that we saw briefly yesterday and head out towards the light house. The road we took was called the Francis Drake Road that runs parallel to the Tomales Bay - a wonderful protected inland bay. We saw numerous bufflehead ducks.
I took a nice picture of a grounded boat/ shipwreck.
The roads are narrow and winding. Once you get out towards the point it becomes more open, and grassy. Still lots of cows. We saw a herd of deer - probably black tailed deer.
These are indigenous to this area. Fallow and axis deer were introduced to the region in the 1930s and 1940s. The mist/ fog really got thick. We pushed on to the lighthouse in spite of visibility being less than mile. It rained and the wind blew, but we were not going to let that get in our way. We climbed out and made a mad dash down the path to an overlook. But it was completly fogged in, and very windy, so we retraced our steps, holding onto our hoods. Spotted a number of banana slugs, which Kevin had to photograph.
Here's Kevin at the overlook.
And here is the Banana slug...
Got back in the car and tried to dry off.
Then we made our way to the seal overlook at Drake's Bay. Slighly clearer in Drake's bay. I saw my first Surf Scoters! Western Grebes played in the surf. Saw gulls, and other unidentified birdies. Watched from above as the elephant seals bugled below.
We started to retrace our steps. Kevin decided to take a road to our left. We took the road to south beach to see the crashing waves. It was very windy, but well worth it. The rolling hill sides were covered with succulents of differing colors. Had some fun with photography. I decided to grossly underexpose to increase the color saturation.
It was really wonderful to see the ocean.
Kevin on the beach...
And on our way out...
On our return drive we had to decide - it was rapidly approaching 3pm and we had made no plans for accommodations. Kevin had picked up a flyer at the Bear Valley Visitor's Center for the Abalone Inn. So we decided to give it a whirl. We arrived, to luckily a vacancy sign. Innkeeper is Donna. Very nice and friendly. Checked in, paid - cash. No credit cards. Very quaint and comfortable inn.
We then decided to head for Pt Reyes Station for a late lunch (our only meal). I had read about the Station Cafe. So we went there. Kevin had the Fish Taco, and I had a very nice fish and chips. I also needed some hot tea to warm up.
We ambled around Point Reyes Station - took photos and popped into a really nice gift store. Then we headed back to the Abalone Inn. We had the place to ourselves, so we had a relaxing time sipping sherry and browsing a nice selection of reference books kept in the Inn's common room.
For more information about the Inn... go here.
We had a very nice comfortable sleep at the Abalone Inn. Queen bed was very comfortable and we didn't hear or were disturbed by the fridge in our room. We woke up, and showered. And had fruit, toast, and 2 hard boiled eggs each. The eggs were courtesy of Innkeepers hens which we met later.
The sun was shining. and we were eager to get going. So the morning of Wednesday 11/21 we left the Inn and we decided to return to Pt Reyes National Seashore.
High voltage turkey vulture.
We wanted to see Limantour beach. We hadn't had the opportunity to see it yesterday as we ran out of time. We had a leisurely drive south, and then to Limantour. We stopped off in the parking lot, and had a wonderful time birdwatching in amongst the trees. Kevin had a fine time photographing a little sparrow bathing in a puddle. Turkey vultures and crows soared overhead, causing the little birds to flee for cover. We saw an osprey in the distance. We have had good sightings of Red Tailed hawks, I've seen a Coopers hawk and I think I saw a Red Shouldered hawk lazily floating over the green hills.
Above is the little sparrow that bathed in front of us.
After birding at Limantour we decided to head out north on the ocean highway (Hwy 1) north to Bodega Bay. It was fun following the coast line of the Tomales Bay, and then watch the changing landscape as it opened up to the Pacific.
Bodega Bay was very touristy. We were feeling peckish so decided to stop by at the Tides Restaurant. Made famous with Hitchcock's "The Birds". Very mediocre tourist trap food. We shared a burger and a seafood appetizer sample. It really was not good.
Then we went to the Bodega Head because I had that this was a good birding spot.
We were not disappointed. I spotted Marbled Godwit - actually huge flocks of them, with Willets intermingled. A first for me! Also nice flocks of Western Sandpiper.
We walked down a long dock to see if there was anything interesting. We saw a fin in the water, and we got very excited. Turned out it was a seal that was toying with us - and only because I managed to spot the whiskers. We are such land lubbers!
Headed towards the Bodega Bay Head, and had a lot of fun photographing the crashing surf, and the sun and light hitting the waves just so. Spent quite a bit of time, photographing the surf here.
Then we decided to meander northwards towards Jenner. We didn't get far when distracted by a sunset, we started photographing that. I got a wild hair, to try and find us suitable accommodation. I didn't want to have to drive all the way back to Novato! So I called and booked at the Best Western Plus at Santa Rosa.