After backtracking a few blocks we continued west on Sir Francis Drake into Inverness, where we would spend the night. But check-in wasn't until 4
p.m., and it was time for lunch. Operating in the pleasant, cottage-like spot formerly occupied by the Gray Whale, Priscillia's is pretty much the only game in town. We shared a huge house salad and a
delicious small (10-inch) "Greek" with feta, artichoke hearts, and red peppers, leaving us no space for the tempting desserts. Then it was onward to our destination--the Historic Pierce Point Ranch area of Point
Reyes National Seashore to see the tule elk.
Along the way, the restive scenery includes glimpses of Tomales Bay. We turned off into Tomales Bay State Park to visit Hearts Desire Beach but
decided not to pay the $5 fee for parking, and instead just stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the sight and sound of an irritated pea hen that was delighting children.
Back at the entrance to the
park, we took Pierce Point Road and headed toward Tomales Point and the Tule Elk Reserve. On the way, we passed historic ranch after historic ranch. Once part of a Mexican land grant, they now they are
leased from the park. Signs indicate that many of the cows provide milk to the Clover brand, and it is quite reassuring to see them out there in the wide-open, green spaces instead of stuffed into a dirt
feedlot. We started seeing the occasional tule elk way off in the distance.
Just before arriving at the Historic Pierce Point Ranch parking lot, we lucked onto an entire herd of elk on the side of the
road. We pulled over and watched, minus our binoculars, which I had unfortunately removed from our car a few days before, but with a camera, which it turned out had a dead battery. I decided not to try to
change the battery then, because the elk were moving and I wanted to at least see them if I wasn't going to capture them on film. I was most surprised by their cute round ears. After the elk wandered
up onto a ridge, we parked our car under mature eucalyptus in the parking lot and walked up to explore the abandoned ranch buildings. We hiked the Tomales Point Trail a ways, too, enjoying the wildflowers and
* * * * *
When I booked our cottage, directions were e-mailed to me. Located down a steep driveway I wouldn't have tried otherwise, Walt's Cabin fulfilled my inflated
expectations. The couch, breakfast table, and white comforter-covered bed all faced a spectacular view of Tomales Bay. We spent a blissful afternoon reading and gazing out at an amazing array of passing
birds, including plenty of hawks and small white egrets. Fortunately, the cabin had no tv. But it did have a well-stocked pantry and fridge, so we indulged in hot chocolate made with Clover milk from those
happy cows we had seen with our own eyes.
For dinner, we backtracked a few miles to the Olema Inn. Featuring a dining room with high ceilings, multi-paned windows, and a wood floor salvaged
from a 19th-century tobacco warehouse in West Virginia, this stylish restaurant has the pleasant feel of an updated farmhouse. The kitchen uses organic ingredients whenever possible, and the meats are
from the esteemed local Niman Ranch. To start, we both wisely chose soup prepared with local wild mushrooms. I moved on to a filet mignon with more wild mushrooms and a soupy wheatberry ragout, while my
husband had a pork chop with a crispy corn cake. (This was my first beef since the outbreak of mad cow in the U.S. And it was delicious. How can you go wrong with beef from local cattle raised in
chemical-free pastures, without hormones or antibiotics, at the Niman Ranch in Bolinas?) The wine list features many half bottles, and our choice was a full-flavored Fife Old Vine Zinfandel. For dessert we
sipped coffee and tea and shared a poached pear upside down cake. Rooms for overnight guests are available upstairs.
In the morning, when my husband returned from a short walk up to the store
to buy a newspaper, he was excited to tell me about the little band of partridges he had seen in the bushes outside our cabin. We then enjoyed a simple but delicious breakfast composed of toasted pecan-raisin
bread, Straus organic butter, good coffee, half and half from happy Clover cows, bananas and oranges, and dry cereal. It took me forever to finish because I was still so taken by the view and sat mesmerized,
watching the glorious morning develop outside. Before our appointed hour to vacate, we took a walk out by the beach, examining a wrecked fishing boat, and then, reluctantly, left.
That day we took a
not-quite-straight shot down Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to Drakes Beach. Driving through terrain reminiscent of England's moors, we again passed ranch after ranch populated with happy cows. Only a few cars
were in the lot at the beach, and a lone ranger was busy cleaning restrooms. The tide was in, the fog was out, and the little cafe was closed, so we didn't stay long.
Back in Pt. Reyes Station, we were
surprised to see almost as many people in town on a Monday as there had been on Sunday. After a 20-minute wait, we were seated on the patio at The Station House Cafe. It was just this side of chilly, but the
sun was out. The food here is always delectible, and I ate every bit of my Niman Ranch pulled-pork sandwich and housemade potato chips, as did my husband eat every bit of his breaded, deep-fried local Johnson's
Because I was driving, we enjoyed a very slow return to reality. I keep pulling over to let the antsy-pantsys pass. What is
their hurry? We were back to four-lane traffic, then, six-lanes, all to fast.
More Information:Point Reyes Lodging (800) 539-1872, (415) 663-1872. This lodging association provides
information about and books reservations for 17 members. The perfect memento of your getaway? Why the association's A Taste of Point Reyes
cookbook, but of course, preferably signed by your innkeeper. Cottages on the Beach
Point Reyes National Seashore (415) 464-5100.
Priscilla's Pizza & Café (415) 669-1244. Olema Inn & Restaurant (415) 663-9559. The Station House Cafe
(Carole Terwilliger Meyers is the author of "Weekend Adventures in San
Francisco & Northern California" and "
Miles of Smiles: 101 Car Games & Activities" and blogs at "Travels With Carole" )Copyright 2009 Carole Terwilliger Meyers