Bay Area

Point Reyes’ Tomales Bay and other Marin/Sonoma Coast adventures

My birthday desire was to go kayaking, so Dave had researched and reserved a kayak tour to see Tule Elk on Tomales Bay at Point Reyes National Seashore.

We got the car around quarter to eight in the morning… a little later than planned. We drove to Marin, and managed to make it to a tiny spot called Marshall by 9:30 am, which is when the tour was scheduled to start.

We checked in, then waited around for a bit to be told what to do. There were a number of other people hanging out, eating donuts, waiting to gear up and get in the water.

After a few minutes, though, the operations manager pulled us aside and asked which tour we signed up for. When we told him, he commented that the Tule Elk tour wasn’t scheduled for that day, but instead was scheduled for Sunday. Had we accidentally signed up for the Sunday tour? He asked if we would be interested in coming back on Sunday, and we told him we had other commitments. He said he would make some calls and figure something out. He promised that we would get to paddle that day.

While he made his calls, we went into the Marshall Store, which isn’t much more than an oyster shack which also sells coffee and a few other snacks. There were a bunch of workers inside getting ready for the day, and they paid us little mind. We got some cash and I bought some tea, and we wandered back in the direction of the kayak place.

The operations manager wasn’t able to find a guide to roust out of bed for a morning paddle, but he offered us the evening paddle, or else a tour around 1 pm. The evening paddle sounded charming, and he assured us that we wouldn’t be too cold. So we made plans to come back by 5 pm.

That meant we had all day to poke around the coast. We started out by driving north just a few miles to a place called Miller Park. While Dave took photos, I enjoyed the site of a pelican dive-bombing into the water. We then spent about an hour taking a leisurely hike along the shoreline, until we got fatigued by picking our way along the rocks.

We continued along Hwy 1 through Tomales, which was impressively busy due to a car show. We continued along to Dillon Beach, drove through the town, and promptly drove out again.

Without any real destination in mind, we decided to continue heading north. Looking at the map, we aimed for Bodega Bay, without realizing we had crossed from Marin into Sonoma County. Not what we were planning when we started out the day!

We needed some guidance, and fortunately we spotted the Sonoma Coast Visitor Center as we drove into the town of Bodega Bay. The woman was quite pleasant and helpful once we explained what we had in mind, and she gave us many good suggestions, both for that day’s adventures and for future opportunities.

We drove around to the inside of the Bay, parked in the parking lot for Westside Regional Park, and set out on a little hike around the point. We spent a few minutes with the gaggle of tourists gathered around the Whale Watch docents. A whale had been spotted very nearby, but Dave and I weren’t able to catch a glimpse. We went for a walk instead, enjoying the sight of the turkey vultures catching drafts off the seacliffs. We got a bit off the beaten path and were surprised by several deer leaping through the bushes.

We went back to the marina and had lunch at the Spud Point Crab Company. The place had a line way out the door when we passed it before our hike, and it hadn’t shrunk much when we stopped to get lunch. The line was well deserved. We had crab sandwiches and chowder, and it was delicious! We really got lucky in where we ended up for lunch.

By this time we were getting pretty fatigued, and we still had a couple of hours before the paddle tour. So we drove back to Miller Park – after all, we had paid for an all-day parking pass – and took a nap in the car for a while.

We got back to Blue Waters Kayaking around quarter to five. We met our guide, as well the other two couples who were also paddling (one of whom included a fellow Hoya, class of 2008).

The evening paddle was mostly peaceful and relaxing. We started out by crossing Tomales Bay, and the wind was a bit tough, but not too bad. Once across, we had a leisurely paddle up the inside of the bay, pausing to admire the sunset, wildlife, and a few historically or geographically significant spots along the way. We saw pelicans, grebes, loons, and ducks. Even better, we caught a few clams spouting water, and saw a bunch of moon jellies! Alas, we didn’t see any river otters, which is what I was really hoping we would catch a glimpse of.

It turned out to be a really nice day! It was great to get out of the city and have an unstructured day out in nature.