May 23 and 24.
After my windy ride on Clear Lake I stayed at a nice little RV park called Edge Water along the southwest shore of the lake and took my time in the morning. The wind started strong early in the day and I had no desire to go back on the water that day.
Once on the road, I was headed for Napa Valley, but a sign Anderson Marsh, national historic landmark got my attention. The marsh is located at the southeast end of the lake and looked interesting. I parked the van at the beginning of a dirt road and hiked into the marsh. A lot of paths were flooded so access was restricted. I had to get my boots to make it to a small pond. Quite often a big fish would jump out of water, I couldn’t tell what kind they were. The wind was howling and Turkey Vultures were soaring overhead.
I was expecting to see little herons in the marsh, but every time they saw me first and bolted out of their hiding place with loud quacks before I spotted them. They are keen little buggers, those Green Herons.
Back from my walk, I noticed there was a pole with an Osprey nest right next to the van. I had completely missed that when I arrived. One of the birds just came back with a fish head to feed the young ones.
I decided to stay the night right there and grabbed something to eat in town.
I left Clear Lake early in the morning and headed for the wine country. After crossing the hills on steep hairpin roads I dropped down in a nice valley with vineyards north of Calistoga. The town itself had wine tasting rooms all over and seemed well geared toward tourism, with café’s, gift shops and galleries.
Down toward Napa the valley gradually got wider and wider and the road was flanked with vineyards left and right. I turned west toward Petaluma and Marin County, because I was going to attend a small boat messabout on Tomalas Bay in a few days. I’ve allways enjoyed the landscape of Marin. It’s rolling hills and sporadic clusters of woods somehow intrigue me. Maybe it reminds me of England, but different.
After winding through the landscape on narrow roads I arrived at Tomales Bay, a long tidal estuary connected to the Pacific in the north and ending at Pt Reyes Station in the south. Pt Reyes Station and Inverness are small funky towns where we were thinking of moving to about 20 years ago. We lived in Berkeley where work was, but were seeking a quieter spot to live. The reality of the commute to town however made us rethink that plan. Somehow the development of the rest of the Bay Area seems to not have reached this area to this day.
I arrived at the Marshall boat ramp midday and the winds were horrendous (for a small boat). The plan was to to meet at this ramp, a few days later for a three day messabout in small boats. I hopped in the restaurant next to the ramp, called Nick’s Cove and realized that may end up being an expensive mistake, looking at the menu. A hamburger with beer however kept things under control.
I scoped out Pt Reyes Station and Inverness for a place to spend the night, but there were no parks anywhere except in Omega, a few miles south. I payed for the night there, which was a bit spendy. I was used to about $15 to $25 per night including hookups, but here they were charging $59 (I believe) for a weekend night. Granted, I was moving into summer season and into fancy California, but I had a hard time with it, because I wouldn’t be able to keep this up for long. Another issue I was dealing with was that I didn’t know what do for the next three days, awaiting the messabout. I figured I would come up with something the next day after a good night of sleep. I would probably go to Sausalito, I thought.
Sure enough the next day presented me with wonderful opportunity for a good time. After finally getting internet connection at the campground, I got an email from my friend Laingdon, who I know from Port Townsend. He invited me to come over to Sausalito, where he had just arrived, to join in the Classic Mariner Regatta! This is a big time anual race with all older wooden boats, varying from small yachts to schooners to big 80 foot classic sloops, often about 60 boats total. All this on the magnificent San Francisco Bay in typically high winds blowing through the Golden Gate Bridge. He was going to be racing with friends of his on a beautiful schooner ‘Elizabeth Muir’, a local icon on the bay. I happened to have seen this boat under construction about 20 years ago in Bolinas under a shed in a gorgeous rural setting. I always had to swing by there when I could, to get a peek at this project, not knowing off course that I would be sailing on her one day. That day was about to happen! Stay tuned.