A Day in the Country

Hello fair Readers!  I must first apologize for the “fake out” post I published a few days ago.  It was in regards to the Chicago trip I was to take this weekend that I mentioned in my last post.  As it were, that trip didn’t happen, and I had some days off of work to relax and enjoy San Francisco.  The post I published on Thursday was in the heat of not going to Chicago.  I was a little frustrated and pissed off, I’d been really looking forward to it.  So I wrote a blog post detailing why the trip didn’t happen and why I was so pissed off.  About five minutes after publishing, I realized it was too “complainy” and that I didn’t want this blog to be like that, so I trashed it.  It was late, I went to bed.  It was not til the next day that I realized that all of my followers and peoples on Facebook had been notified.  Whoops.

Instead of complaining about a trip that was not to be, I’d rather take the time to talk about things that were to be.  This weekend I’ve had a pleasant four days off, and it was the end of Zac’s spring break, so we took a day trip across the bay to Marin County.  It was the first time that we’d driven across the Golden Gate Bridge since moving, and I always forget what a monumental feeling it is to be driving across such an exalted structure.  I marveled at how bridges are even built.  I mean, that’s crazy!  Taking steel and various building supplies and putting something where there was nothing across deep, vast water for a bazillion cars to drive across every day?  How does that happen?  I realize there is a plausible, physics related answer to this question, but I’m not a science person.  We artists tend to do more marveling at the universe than logistic analysis.

Anywho, we drove first to San Rafael because we knew there was a Trader Joe’s there and needed supplies.  San Rafael turned out to be an adventure in itself once we were there.  According to my copy of Let’s Go! California, San Rafael is the largest city in Marin County but holds little of interest to the budget traveler.  I can see how this is true, but we found plenty to entice us.  If you haven’t noticed, wherever Zac and I go, if there is a record store to be had, we will find it.  And if that record store has a cheap used section, we will find that and patiently comb it to find the best deals on the best records possible.  Red Devil Records on 4th Street was no exception.  We found two Simon and Garfunkel records, two Joni Mitchell records, a Donovan record, and a rare live Jefferson Airplane record that Zac has been searching for for years, all for only $1 or $2 each.  I splurged and forked over $8 for the self-titled Fleetwood Mac album (my copy of Rumours has been looking a little lonely!).  The ambience of the shop was nice too.  The middle aged musicophile behind the counter was playing some good old tunes and they had some rare White Stripes records I’d never seen before.  If you ever happen to find yourself in San Rafael, I suggest checking it out!

We also visited the mission in San Rafael.  I have a thing with missions, and if I’m in a town where there is one I have to visit.  It’s not that I’m a big fan of the idea of missions, I’m against anything colonialist or imperialist, but they are such a distinct part of California history.  In a state so relatively new, they are some of the oldest structures you will find.  This one, Mission San Rafael Arcángel, is pretty small.  Known as “the most obliterated of California’s missions”, the original structure is not there.  Most missions have a small museum with artifacts, but here there was only a tiny display case with some pottery shards and a timeline of general mission history.  The chapel that is there today was built in 1949, so lacks the sense of age that you feel when you visit a mission.  The tiny chapel is dwarfed by the modern building of the San Rafael Parish of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, an impressive building that apparently had undergone a remodel not too long ago.  There was also the requisite gift shop, but even that was kind of disapointing.  There was however a guide on dragon slaying prominently displayed in the children’s section.  Interesting. . .

The fancy new parish church
The old chapel
Old Mission bells
Priest sighting at Mission San Rafael Arcangel
Lilies of the Valley, my favorite flowers

I couldn’t help playing with the sepia settings on my camera, please indulge me!

From San Rafael we back tracked to the Shoreline Highway and drove to Muir Woods.  I love driving along tiny winding highways.  This one was beautiful, lined with eucalyptus groves and wildflowers.  Originally we thought to hike around Muir Woods, but it is a $7 entrance fee per person that we didn’t feel like spending to see redwood trees.  Eventually I’d love to go back, but that day we were in pursuit of free(er) entertainments.  After a snack of hummous and pita chips, we jumped on Highway 1 out to the ocean and stopped at Muir Beach.  It’s a fairly secluded, small beach, popular with families and people with dogs.  We did see some of each, but it wasn’t too crowded.  Zac, the boy that he is, played in the sand while I perched on a rock, looking longingly at the stunning houses and cypress trees along the cliffs.  After about an hour or so, it grew chilly (the weather is so changeable in the bay!) and we got back on the 1, winding our way north to the next beach.

Muir Beach

I want one of these houses!
A driftwood monster

I haven’t driven on Highway 1 in a long time, and it was so much fun.  I am my father’s daughter, a car lover at heart, and for me a curvy road alongside stretches of ocean and windblown terrain is a great way to spend the afternoon.  We made our way to Stinson Beach, a little larger than Muir Beach, and flopped on the sunny dunes for more relaxation.  We laughed at some enterprising seagulls who were looking for dinner and the hapless human who thought she could throw a blanket over her food and it would stay not eaten.  Once she realized that it was a loosing battle, she took her bag of food with her – and the seagulls moved on to the next group of towels and lunch remains.

Stinson Beach is also located in the town of Stinson Beach, population 632.  I also love tiny beach towns, so naturally we had to walk down the main drag and check things out.  We passed the Sand Dollar, the oldest restaurant in the town, and apparently the local bar too.  On the porch, an obviously gay middle aged man lifted his martini glass and toasted his companions with “Happy Friday, guys!”  Well put sir.  My sentiments exactly.  The antique shop sadly was closed, as it was past 5pm the this time, but we did check out the local book shop.  It looked tiny but went far back, and felt like it had used to be a house.  It was run by this little old couple, with him taking care of the books in the front, she tablecloths, candles, and stationary in the back.  At this time it was getting a bit late, so we got back on the 1 and headed home.

Mailboxes along Muir Woods Road

We did make a small detour back to San Rafael though.  We had spied a Double Rainbow ice cream shop there earlier and had to grab an ice cream treat before heading back across the bridge.  For those who don’t know, Double Rainbow is a fabulous premium ice cream company based in San Francisco.  They also do a lot of dairy-free flavors!  Zac had a mint chocolate cone and I enjoyed a salted caramel cone.  The perfect end to the perfect day.

I hope this post was pleasing to you.  I’m sure it will be more so than the bitchy one originally published.  As always,

Good Luck and Happy Travels


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