California, 13th November, Point Reyes, fault lines and coyotes

We had had an interesting night in the Samuel P Taylor Campsite, close to Point Reyes and on the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, named as Drake stopped on Point Reyes in 1579 to make repairs to the Golden Hind. The campsite was a large forested area where they had turned off most of the water, allegedly because of drought. This meant of course that showering was out of the question, even though our clothes were now clean. I am not sure whether it was our odour that attracted the racoons but a family descended on our picnic table while were eating and chattered round the surrounding branches. So delightful, although they apparently carry rabies.

An early start saw us driving to the Bear Valley Visitor Centre which was closed at that hour. This is the parking place for the earthquake trail, a short walk around the fault line. The San Andreas fault lies along the line separating the peninsula from the mainland, where Highway 1 now runs.



The visitor centre had an invasion of small California quail who were scuttling around the car park. Here is a male and a female



The start of the earthquake trail was not at all obvious so we waited for the centre to open to get a leaflet. The path took us through trees heavily hung with Spanish moss and inhabited by mule deer. The trail passes by a point where the 1906 earthquake parted a fence leaving a 16ft gap between the two halves. You can still see the fence (or its replacement)





 



As we were driving away from the centre Mairi commented how like Scotland the scenery was, in its mellow dampness. Just as she said this we arrived at a village called Inverness, a collection of houses, a shop, petrol station and restaurant! There was a very photogenic boat pulled up on the shore.





Our next stop was on the extreme north of the peninsula at Tomales Point. This is an area of low hills and contains the Tule Elk Reserve. The elk have been reintroduced here and seem to be thriving. This is a great place for wildlife and we saw not only turkey vultures as always along this coast but also a northern harrier, a red tailed hawk and two coyotes who were not fazed by our proximity. A couple of Americans passing enquired as to whether they were wolves!

Turkey vulture

Red tailed hawk

Male northern harrier, not a terribly good photo I am afraid

Elk

Coyote



The views of the ocean beyond were pearlescent in the mist.


The park is bounded by an historic ranch, the 19th century Pierce Point Ranch and you can wander around its white painted buildings. There are many such old ranches on the peninsula and most of them are still raising beef and dairy cattle, a larder for San Francisco.



After our walk we were feeling hungry, and it was 3.00 o'clock so we went down to a little beach, McClures Beach, for a late lunch. The ocean was still misty and we were facing south west into the sun which backlit the waves.


Finally we drove out of Tomales Point passing a band of female elk and down onto Point Reyes Beach North to watch the sun going down. Not a dramatic sunset but more of a lowering into the deep!
















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