California Coast

What is the allure of California?  The weather?  The beaches?  The mountains?  San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego?  All of this and more.  I love the easy attitude that comes with living in a place where the weather respects your well laid plans and invites you outside day after day.  It’s my preference to wander without a heavy coat and there are always the mountains to wrap you in cold and shower you with snow.  But for one week in November, my friend and I focused on the warmth for our brief exploration of one tiny little section of coastline.

We started by driving from San Francisco to Carmel, stopping at every pullover to enjoy the spectacular views on Highway 1.




A dinner at the Flying Fish Grill in Carmel reminded me of my first trip to California when I was young and had just started a new job.  A business dinner in Half Moon Bay included the delicious introduction to abalone.  When I saw that abalone was on the menu at the Flying Fish Grill, I indulged.  It was an expensive reminder but the enjoyment was the same.  Ah, abalone….

In Carmel, there are small shops and art galleries to keep you busy for a few days and if you’re shopping for real estate, check out the cute house with beach views listed for a mere $6.5 million.  Hmmm, where is my checkbook?

After you seal the deal, stop for some wine at Silvestri Vineyards tasting room (  I recommend the Barbera and the Syrah.  Don’t worry, it’s easy enough to wrap at least one bottle of wine in that extra pair of jeans for the trip home in your checked bag.

Don’t miss Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.  It’s only $10/car to enter and we were happy to support the park system and see the redwoods.  It’s hard not to look up into the canopy and feel respect for these forest giants as guardians of nature.  Even trees with fire scarred bodies I saw as an example of resilience, growing upward, still green.



redwood1Before heading back to Carmel, head south a little further to stop for lunch with views of the coast.


PCH6The next day, it was back to San Francisco.  The plan?  To walk across the Golden Gate Bridge (from Union Square/Geary Street, take the 38 bus to the 28 bus which drops you at the toll bridge; $2.75 with transfer; exact change only) and continue down to Sausalito.  You can also bike across the bridge, but why?  It’s only about a two mile walk and you have the chance to stop and see the seals and porpoises in San Francisco bay.


Once across the bridge, take the trail around to your right, down the stairs and under the bridge to walk down to Sausalito.  It’s only about three miles and mostly downhill, a nice walk with views of the bay and San Francisco.

bridge3You can refuel with lunch (or chocolate) before taking a ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf.  Be careful – there are two ferries and only one goes to Fisherman’s Wharf.



Now back to the hotel from Fisherman’s Wharf.  Why not take the “world famous cable car”!  You would know it by the lines to ride one…  You may not see as much at night but you still get the thrill of riding up and down some extreme hills.  And you don’t have to walk them.


On our last day, we took a bus (#7) from the Powell Street Station over to the Haight/Ashbury area.  Once a refuge for people wanting to live their life with more freedom, it’s now more mainstream but still has the lure of the beautiful homes and eccentric shops.  From there, it’s an easy walk over to Golden Gate Park.


When it’s time to return to the airport for the flight home, hop on BART – an easy and inexpensive ride to the airport.

For more travel information, see my travel site:

Copyright 2017 ©; photos cannot be reproduced without permission.


Home Travel

Is the concept of home travel a contradiction?  In the U.S., the “staycation” has become popular as a “holiday” when people actually explore their home turf and do the things they normally regard as appropriate only for tourists.  Or just revel in some of the delights that they have to forgo when closed in an office all day.  It’s really a shame that we spend our lives working so we can enjoy free time in retirement.  I don’t want to wait until I’m older and less fit and flexible to engage in the activities that connect me with the world.


Lucy waiting to go “hacking”

So while I’m exploring and establishing myself as a consultant, I ride with my friend whenever the weather is nice.  It’s a way to explore my local area, learn some of the history and the heritage (who knew Camp Woods was where George Washington and his army camped? AND is rumored to be haunted!) while connecting with nature in the best way, seated on the back of a sturdy little Connemara mare, courtesy of my friend.

One delight is seeing deer standing in the woods, curious about their fellow four-legged friends who have sprouted a human from their back.  We humans are dismissed as an immediate threat when fixed on a horse allowing both parties to silently evaluate the other.  Is it wonder?  Or a kindred acknowledgement of another being folded in the quiet of the woods, with only the birds to break the silence?

Today we caught the attention of a small group of deer who spotted us as we slowly walked along a field.  They patiently waited and once we hit their distance limit, they bounded off into the woods.  Our horses watched, ears forward until the deer disappeared.  Then their ears swiveled back into relaxation mode as we continued along the field’s edge.   Later, we startled a fox who trotted away stopping occasionally to glance over his shoulder and track our progress.  Again, Lucy and Flora watched but never stopped progressing down the trail.  These animals were no threat to the horses.

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View of the fields

The horses know the way and seem eager to stretch their legs in a quick trot along the meadows or a little canter on their favorite trails.  Sometimes there are just the two of us riding but our group can expand to four when schedules cooperate along with the weather. I can’t think of very many things that make me feel like I’m a 12 year old girl, out on a pony adventure.  It’s a bit sad to not see more people on horses using the trails as a way to enjoy nature.   And I hang on the words of the women who grew up in the area telling the stories of long field rides and gallops, referring to each trail by the names of the original property owners, these names a part of their history and their memories even if the land has changed hands.

But of course, there are the sacrifices of pieces of land, the slow and disturbing disappearance of woods and fields transformed into another development in the name of progress.  Preserving the horse trails protects tracts of land for the resident wildlife and means there are natural areas for the human residents to explore.  I think it’s a way to share this treasure and perhaps convert more people into protection mode for the land and the wildlife.  After all, whenever someone complains, “There are too many deer,”  don’t you wonder if the deer are whispering, “There are too many people”?

Copyright 2016 ©; photos cannot be reproduced without permission.