Northern California Day

San Francisco, CA

We were up at 0630 so that we could be on deck as Arcadia sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco harbour. It was a bit of a grey dawn but luckily not foggy and not too cold – about 17C. The whole sail-in is so iconic, the bridge, the hills, the piers, Alcatraz and indeed the skyline itself. We have seen it all so many times on tv and in the movies, it always feels familiar and welcoming.
Have been here about 6 or 7 times but it still takes me by surprise how close Alcatraz is to the main waterfront and the city itself. So much closer than you would imagine. It must have been an extra form of torture for the prisoners to look out and see the glittering lights so very close to them. Talk about so near and yet so far……. As we approached our dock we were welcomed by seagulls and also seals and sealions swimming out to greet the ship.
We had a car on hire again and as soon as the ship was cleared we were off and on our way to the Enterprise office near Fisherman’s Wharf. I suppose we were on our way by around 0945. We drove out of the city across the Golden Gate bridge which is fantastic – all the views again and such a thrill to be crossing it. Traffic was light. We found ourselves next to a McClaren supercar and we debated giving him a race across in our little Hyundai 🙂 but decided to let him have his day……
Once across the bridge and on Highway 1, it is just amazing how quickly the urban sprawl totally disappears and you are in the green hills and forests. We intended our first stop to be Muir Woods but when we got there it was an absolute mob scene and clearly a peaceful walk through the giant redwoods was not going to happen. So we continued north up 1 and stopped in a small seaside town for some coffee and wifi. Just our luck…. the wifi was down….. continued north again to Point Reyes National Shoreline, a massive chunk of land, a promontory and miles of coast which have been preserved as a national park. The American NP system is totally brilliant. All so very well done and this was no exception. Wonderful towering forests giving way to green rolling hills, not unlike Derbyshire in parts. We came to the visitor centre in Bear Valley and found brilliant wifi there. So we had a long facetime call with the girls who were home in the flat together. It was so wonderful to hear their voices and catch up on the gossip. We were on for ages.
Then we drove to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, a wonderful remote spot on the coast. Walked in to it from the car park, about half a mile. Staggering views up the coast of wild surf beaches just populated by elephant seals sunning themselves on the sands. Overhead circled sea eagles and also some turkey buzzards. The hedgerows and the hills were covered in wildflowers of varying shades of blue, purple and yellow: purple and blue echiums, yellow Califonia poppies, blue Douglas irises (amazing), yellow buttercups, mallows, clovers and sedges. Houses were dripping with rambling roses. Just beautiful. When we got to the lighthouse we just glimpsed some grey whales travelling north up to Alaska for the summer. Not much of a sighting, just splashes and spouts and the shadows…. but quite definite.
Had a great ramble around there. The sun was out and quite warm by then. Afterwards we headed north and east through the hills and back to highway 101 and then south to Berkeley. Stopped off at a Walmart and JC Penneys for a few forgotten items and then back into the city across the bay bridges. Spectacular drive again.
We got back at about 715, dropped the car and then went for our long awaited Dungeness crab dinner. Just as delicious as last year. So much crab and all lightly coated in a garlic butter gravy. You have to have a big because it splatters everywhere. We like it so much we might need to go back tomorrow for a second go!!!!So back to the ship and showers otherwise our cabin will be The Crab Shack! A fabulous day here in this wonderful place and another one to come tomorrow.