Monday, September 20, 2021

Where the Tule Elk Roam - Point Reyes, California


One more day of exploring here on the Point Reyes Peninsula, a bit north of San Francisco.

First, let's eat. There are a handful of restaurants up here but one stood out, to me, as a bit more unique than the others. That would be Vladmir's Czech Restaurant in nearby Inverness. They're serving lunch today so let's start there.


Here for six decades, the woody cozy diner also has a bar, serves American staples such as burgers, plus a half dozen Czech specialties. The old sign outside says "Czechoslovakian," giving away the restaurant's age as dating before the split of those two countries.

While Tim goes for a burger, my wife goes with a kolkata sausage plate and I have a roast duck with sauerkraut, dumpling, and potato salad. 


It's all very good...more than I can eat, really...and sets us up nicely for our last adventure.

Earlier, we went to the southern end of the Point Reyes Peninsula, where we saw the historic lighthouse. Now, we're going as far north to the other end as we can with our car, which still leaves us a couple of miles short of the northern point. You can park here and take the trail to the end but it's not wheelchair accessible.

We'll just do an auto tour to the end of the road and see what we can find.


The asphault could use some repairing. I try to miss the potholes as best I can. We drive by old cattle ranches, still operating on agreement with the National Park Service after their land became federalized.

On a hill to the right, I point out a coyote to my wife. A few minutes later, she points out a bobcat strolling nearby.


A few miles in, we come across a large fence that crosses the peninsula from the bay to the ocean. This is the start of the Tule Elk Reserve. On the other side is a protected herd of the animals but a big bull didn't get the memo and is hovering around on this side of the fence.

On the other side, we see groups of the animals here and there on top of some of the ridges.

We get to the end of the road where the historic Pierce Point ranch is preserved as a walk-through museum. There is some parking and restrooms here so it makes a nice resting point before returning back.

Scanning the hilltops, we find some more antlers sticking above the brush. We sight the bull with binoculars and find is harem of six cow a few feet to the right.

After this tour of the local wildlife, we head back to the hotel in the setting sun. Tomorrow, we'll head home more relaxed and refreshed.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2021 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 19, 2021

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Brown Ale Taste Off

Picture courtesy of Flickr
Bernt Rostad under CC BY 2.0 license

Tim joins me again for another Cocktail Hour here on The World on Wheels.


Watch the Video


Today, we're tasting two brown ales, Arrogant Bastard Ale and Mission Street Brown Ale.


Arrogant Bastard is brewed by Stone Brewery in Escondido, California...just north of San Diego.  Stone is doing a lot of interesting things in beer these days.  They brew some great sour ales and have tried to make a great beer garden at the brewer...a garden I have yet to try.


The Bastard is a strongly hoppy ale, a little rough around the edges, but popular among the microbrew set.  A 20 oz. bottle will set you back $3.99 at Trader Joe's.  It's also widely available at various retailers and bars.


Mission Street is brewed by Firestone Walker Brewery specifically for Trader Joe's in Paso Robles, California...just north of San Luis Obispo.  A 20 oz. bottle is $1.99 there.


We like the Mission Street a bit better than the Arrogant Bastard...see the video for full details...and thought that if we like the beer, and it was half the price of the challenger...well... we'd just have to buy twice as much!

Cheers!

Darryl

Friday, September 17, 2021

Shaky History on Solid Ground: Point Reyes, California


Up and at 'em! Time to go explore this peninsula.

After some bagels for breakfast at the Inverness Park Store, we head over to Bear Valley, a part of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Today, we're hiking the Earthquake Trail.

This trail, 3/4 of a mile...paved, no discernible elevation grade...takes you on an up-close and personal tour of the infamous San Andreas Fault with interpretive sign stations explaning everything you would want to know about earthquakes.


There's a way more popular (and not as accessible) trail nearby so the parking lot here is fairly empty and easy to find a space. A few handicapped spaces are at the trailhead, which is also where two accessible restrooms are. There are also several picnic tables here so you may want to bring a lunch with you. Of course, there are several nearby restaurants nearby that you can visit before or after too.

The trail pretty much forks as soon as you start. Take the left fork. It will loop back to this point before it's over.


There are a lot of trees, so this is mostly a shady walk. A gurgling creek is crossed by a wooden bridge. 


At the far reaches of the trail, where this used to be a farm, an old fence goes off up the hill. This fence was here in 1906 when the fault snapped and caused the huge 7.8 San Francisco quake. The fence was split in two. One section sits 16 feet away from the other one at the fault line.


You can stand on the fault, straddle it, jump up and down on it if you want. Wheelchair users will have to watch about 10 feet away, though, because there are a half dozen stair steps up to it.  The fault is marked by blue posts situated every few feet along the line.


Stay on the trail because there is a lot of poison oak here. Other than that, is a nice, easy, shady stroll through some oak forest and a few meadows.


Next, we're going to take a drive to the south end of the peninsula that is Point Reyes. Just past our hotel, we take the left turn going south. After a few bumpy miles on the main road, it's nice that this road has been freshly paved and is smooth for the rest of the way.

We drive for about 20 miles past beaches, historic cattle ranches, dairies, and a lot of open grassland.


At the end of the road, we reach the parking lot for the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The lighthouse, itself, and the visitor's center is closed on this Thursday but we can still walk out to it and enjoy the view. 


If it was open, vehicles with handicapped plates or placards can drive up to the visitor's center and take advantage of the parking up there.


For us, it's a fairly simple half mile walk each way up the paved access road.


It is on a very high ridge and some of the looks down to the bottom of the cliffs can inspire a quick breath or two. It also is a great way to see the miles of empty beaches and unspoiled land stretching to the horizon.

At the end, where the visitor's center and restrooms are, there is a paved sidewalk taking you around the point to a paved platform where you can view the lighthouse and crashing waves far below.


When the visitor's center is open, able bodied people can descend the 300+ stairs to the lighthouse to get a close-up look. Otherwise, you'll just be able to get to this viewing platform...which also has an accessible picnic table if you didn't have lunch at the Earthquake Trail...but it's a grand place to take in some spectacular views of the northern California coastline.


On the way back, we take a few moments to look at the gray whale skull that has been placed next to the trail.


We're going to go back to the van and continue on but we'll leave it here for now and pick up the rest of it in our next dispatch.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2021 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 13, 2021

Cool Summer Times in Tomales Bay, California


August in northern California can be uncomfortable. Temperatures regularly head north of 100 degrees and smoke from wildfires can make you choke on the thick air. 

With that in mind, I scheduled a couple of days on the coast north of San Francisco where the air should be cool and clear.

Without stopping, it's about two and a half hours from our home to our destination of Inverness, a tiny little town on the Point Reyes Peninsula on Tomales Bay, west of Petaluma and about 40 miles northwest of San Francisco.

There's not a lot of accessible rooms on the north coast and even fewer that will accomodate three adults. Our choice for this trip came down to a room with a roll-in shower with a bay view and two queen beds or an accessible cottage with a tub with three beds a couple of blocks inland where we would not have an ocean view but would have 14 acres to relax in.


This time, beds and comfort won over the view of the water. Our destination is The Cottages at Point Reyes Seashore about a mile north of that little town of Inverness. Our cottage has a wide, reserved handicapped parking spot that is plenty big enough for our van. A queen bed in the living room will be Tim's, since that's the only one his wheelchair can get to. Letty and I will be on two twin beds in a separate bedroom. 


A hallway give Tim access to the bathroom in the back where there is also a small, well-equipped kitchen.


Tim can keep up on his baseball games on a tiny, wall mounted TV in the living room where there is also a very comfortable recliner, three somewhat less comfortable desk chairs, and a small table. The redwood decked porch also has a couple of Adirondack chairs, a picnic table, and a bench.

There is also a pool and hot tub on site- with lifts-tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and a fenced in dog run with a nice hiking trail leading into the woods and hills.

We take a little time to explore the town of Point Reyes Station, about 6 miles away, where we find some very creamy soft serve ice cream made out of local Buffalo milk in the local market.


We also find some accessible restrooms behind Toby's, a local garden center.

It's time to start thinking about dinner but, first on our way back, we stop in at the Inverness store. Behind here is where you'll find the Point Reyes Shipwreck (picture at the top of this post). It's not accessible out to the wreck but you can see in well enough from the back of the parking lot.


While many stories abound about this decaying boat on the sandbar, including a very improbable one that it wrecked there over a century ago (a pretty impressive accomplishment for a boat built in 1944), the most probable one is that local fisherman Merrel Rocca, Sr. bought the surplus troop tender planning on restoring it into a fishing boat.

The boat washed up onto the sandbar in a storm and, lacking the funds to do anything about it, the owner abandoned it where it sat. Being in a protected estuary, plans were made to remove it but local photographers banded together to save this very picturesque "shipwreck" and it still sits behind the little local store, waiting for visitors like us to snap its picture.


It's back south a couple of miles to the Tap Room, a tiny restaurant on the side of the Inverness Park Store (not to be confused with the Inverness Store, above) where it's sushi night.


It's accessible but a bit of a squeeze to get into the three table dining room (more tables are available outside) where my wife has a nice poke bowl while Tim and I...non-sushi eaters...enjoy some potstickers.


Back at our hotel, we enjoy some wine on our porch before calling it a night and planning for some more adventures tomorrow.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2021 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 12, 2021

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Caipirinha


Ralf Roletschek / roletschek.at

And now for something completely different...

This week we're trying a new cocktail, one I've never mixed before and, until recently, never even heard of.  The caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil.  It's similar to a daiquiri, but uses cachaca...which we know better as aguardient...instead of rum.  It's also similar to a mojito in that you muddle some ingredients, but uses lime instead of mint.  Think of it as the offspring of a daiquiri and a mojito if you will.

It's very tasty and refreshing with a slight licorice taste to it.  Also, it's low in calories at around 145 calories per drink.

INGREDIENTS

4 small limes
Juice of one medium lime
1 1/2 oz. aguardiente
1 tbsp. sugar or 1 oz. simple syrup

Cut the small limes in quarters and put into cocktail shaker.  Add sugar (or simple syrup) and muddle (squash with a muddler). Add ice, lime juice, and aguardiente.  Shake and strain into cockail glass.

Cheers!

-Darryl

Friday, September 10, 2021

Back in Fashion: A Busy Summer


As our governor said mid june, "we're open...and roaring back!" Californians came out, rubbed their eyes, and started making their way back into the outside world. While we're not ready to get on a plane, yet, we're going to take Mr. Newsom at his word and go roaring back out into this post-Covid (for vaccinated people) world.

At the beginning, it didn't seem like it would be an extraordinarily active summer but let's look back on what we  did and accomplished...


In May, our hometown of Ione kicked things off by bringing back their heavily missed Homecoming festival. A three day (pared down to two days, this year) town wide party.


It was fun to dunk the mayor in the dunking booth, eat fireman cooked tri-tip, and listen to local bands while sipping something cold in the beer garden and catching up with our neighbors and friends.

When the Hampton Inn gave away our accessible room in Carson City, we pressed our case with some on-the-fly ADA knowledge to gain a suite at the Holiday Inn Express in nearby Minden...for free.


The visitor's center there provided us with a fascinating, historical walking tour of the city.


Oh yeah, we also found the Batmobile at a local casino.


Popular local band, After Dark, is calling it quits at the end of this summer so we got to catch an early show of their farewell tour in Mokelumne Hill at a local winery downtown there.


I organized a community cleanup of our city's park just before the Memorial Day crowds came.


My mom visited and we got to take her to another local concert at a winery in nextdoor El Dorado County to see the classic cover band The Rusty Rockers.


A heat wave in June inspired us to getaway to the much cooler climes of Half Moon Bay where we were able to have a nice two day getaway along the Central/Northern California coast.


Miles of oceanfront, wheelchair accessible trails greeted us there.


A couple of weeks later, we went on a more substantial trip for four nights up in secluded Quincy, California. Part of the "lost Sierra" in Plumas County, Northern California.


Another walking tour and a high-country accessible hike to a waterfall awaited us.


On the way home, we found another accessible and historic trail to one of the Donner Party's camps just north of Truckee.


Our mayor hosted a community bash at our local golf course where it was sno-cones, beer, and more live music from some good local bands, including a very good Eric Clapton tribute band.


Independence Day found us in the tiny Gold Rush town of Volcano at their annual Cannonball Run car show.


Of course, there was more live music at one of the oldest general stores in the west plus some great barbecued burgers.


We didn't even have to leave home when a local bait and tackle shop held a fishing festival, which closed off our street and happened right in front of our house.


Professional fishing champs Nick Cloutier and Mark Lassagne came up the steps to pose with Tim.


A family visit from my wife's brother and his wife led us up to Lake Tahoe where he and I jumped into that cold, clear lake.


It was very refreshing.


Later, we could be found at yet another local concert, one on the park of a jazz trio in the old town of San Andreas in Calaveras County.


After he left, my wife's other brother, his wife, and kids came for a visit. We were able to ride an old train at Railtown 1897 State Park in Jamestown where...due to TSA rules...we had to break out the Covid masks again.


On the way home, we took a couple of hours to just sit in a creek in the town of Murphys, drinking wine and eating cheese.

It was a great way to stay cool in the summer heat.


A day of wine tasting ended their trip up in Amador County's Shenandoah Valley.


Next up was the return of the Amador County Fair. It was great to get back to this little fair, check out the exhibits, and pet the animals.


My wife even entered a shawl she knitted into the crafts competition. She got a red ribbon for her efforts.


And it was another chance to catch another After Dark show on their farewell tour.


Next up was the return of live events at the Italian Picnic Grounds in Sutter Creek. First off was a Tom Petty tribute band concert.


Packing up our beach chairs, we sat on the lawn and listened to a show of Petty or Not.


A couple of weeks later, it was back to those picnic grounds to attend their Brewfest, which is an outgrowth of the previous and popular Amador Brewing Summer Picnic.

We started off this summer escaping to the coast to beat the heat, and we're finishing up the same way. It was a couple of days at Tomales Bay (near where Alfred Hitchcock filmed "The Birds").


Our stay at Point Reyes Inn will be featured in greater depth next week.

So, all in all, not a bad way to pick up a few summer activities while our state is waking up into its Covid-induced hangover.

Darryl Musick
Copyrigh 2021 - All Rights Reserved