We awoke to the sound of rain which normally wouldn’t have been a big deal but since today is a move day for us, it wasn’t a welcome sound. Luckily by the time we headed outside to do our outdoor departure preparations, the rain had stopped. We made the short drive through fairly heavy traffic across the Golden Gate Bridge towards Santa Rosa and once again the rain started up making for poor visibility with the fog. The trip to Santa Rosa took about an an hour and a half and when we pulled into the campground the clouds were dark and threatening and we did get more wind and rain later in the day. Our time so far in Northern California has certainly included some chilly days. As Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.”
Our main reason for stopping in this area was so Bill could attend the taping of several audio shows at the TWIT (“This Week in Tech”) studio in Petaluma, about a twenty minute drive from our campground. The web site for TWIT is here http://twit.tv if you are interested in their technology based discussions. Bill has listened to the owner and host of TWIT, Leo Laporte, since 1999. Leo and his team tape these free shows every week such as “The Tech Guy” and “This Week in Google”. They can be watched live or downloaded later to your listening device. Bill downloads the TWIT audio programs (called netcasts) on his phone. While we were in the area Bill was able to attend five tapings which included a call-in help radio show, the weekly summary TWIT show, a show on android phones, “This Week In Windows” and “This Week in Google”. Three of the taping were recorded in Leo’s office and Bill was allowed to sit by his desk.
There were tourists in the audience from Australia and Canada watching the Sunday taping.
Monday our plans including visiting Muir Woods and Sausalito. It was actually easier to drive there from Santa Rosa than from our campground outside of San Francisco.
The drive to Muir Woods National Monument was easy until the last 10 miles which then turned into narrow, steep, and curvy roads. Parking is at a premium at Muir Woods and since the parking lot is small and is it a popular place, it is not unusual to have to park a mile or so away from the entrance. Luck was on our side this day and we secured a parking spot in the closest lot as someone was pulling out and we drove in.
Muir Woods is a coastal redwoods forest with towering redwoods which can be seen as you walk along a boardwalk or take hikes through the forest. The coastal redwoods only grow on a 500 mile strip of Pacific Coast from southern Oregon to Big Sur CA because they need moisture from fog to flourish. Most ancient coastal redwoods have been cut, but some are protected in national and state parks. Redwoods can reach a height of 379 feet and be 2,000 years old. In Muir Woods the tallest tree is 252 feet tall and some are at least 1,000 years old. Most are between 500 and 800 years old. We listened to an informative ranger talk on the history of the park. In 1905 William Kent purchased the 611 acres of land for $45,000 with the idea of preserving it for the enjoyment of his family and friends because he was alarmed at the amount of forest being destroyed by logging companies. After the devastating 1906 earthquake, the need for redwood to rebuild was at a premium and logging companies began to take even more redwood forest land. They wanted Kent’s land and filed an injunction to acquire the land due to need for the wood. The courts agreed with the logging companies and ordered the land turned over. Kent contacted President Theodore Roosevelt and offered to donate 295 acres of the land to the federal government if it would be protected. Roosevelt agreed and it became a national monument. Kent asked that it be named after john Muir, a wilderness advocate. Muir was also responsible for convincing Roosevelt to set aside land which became Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and Mt Rainier national parks.
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks.” John Muir
We walked along the boardwalk and took a mile trail which led us further up into the trees which was very serene and we could see the people walking on the boardwalk below us.
In 1945 delegates from all over the world met in San Francisco to establish the United Nations. On May 19 they traveled to Muir Woods to honor the memory of President Franklin Roosevelt who had died a month earlier. President Roosevelt believed in the value of national parks as a source of inspiration, and it was hoped that the beauty and serenity of Muir Woods would inspire the delegates to pursue world peace as they met to establish the United Nations. A plaque quoted the thoughts of one of the delegates, “Persons who love nature find a common basis for understanding people of other countries, since the love of nature is universal among man of all nations.”
We would strongly agree with John Muir since it has been while hiking and exploring nature that we have met many people from other countries.
After our time at Muir Woods which included a picnic lunch, we drove to Sausalito. It is a picturesque little town, but a bit too much of a tourist trap for us. If you like to shop, this is the place to be. We enjoyed walking downtown and took in the views of San Francisco across the bay, but we were eager to move on.
Next we drove to Hawks Hill which included a steep climb and more winding roads after which we were rewarded with a gorgeous panoramic view of the San Francisco area, including Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. We thought the view from Twin Peaks our first day in San Francisco was amazing, but this view definitely blew us away. We continued driving which including going down an 18% grade, and came to a former missile site. We drove by the Nike Missile Site SF-88 which is a former Nike Missile launch site at Fort Barry. It opened in 1954 and was intended to protect the population and military installations in the San Francisco area during the Cold War. It closed in 1974 and is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The visitors center there is open Thursday thru Saturday. Unfortunately for us today was a Monday. We then rode down to Rodeo Beach where just like everywhere in this area, there were surfers out catching waves. The sand in this part of California is brown and coarse and not the soft white sand we are more familiar with in Florida and southern California.