My friend Pam is a travel writer and has stories. She goes places. She emails me one day, “You could come with me. J’s not making the trip, and I’m spending three nights on the No. Cal. seashore, then two in the city.” Subject Line: “Ya know…”
So I am in. It turns out she has a “camper van” for the three days with nothing in particular to do. Her job isn’t the destination, as much as using the van, and her destination was the barely-out-of-the-city Point Reyes National Seashore. Easy enough.
I’d only been there once, twenty years ago, and the only thing I remember was how annoyed I was traveling with two vegans, which meant we were all eating gummy organic peanut butter on too-hearty wheat bread. I think I was cold that night as we camped before heading into the city and a cheap room on the edge of the Tenderloin.
Pam and my trip started much more civilized, though the first thing I said to her when I saw her on the plane was, “I threw out my back yesterday, and I am high.” It turns out flying high isn’t that great, and thankfully Pam was gracious at lifting my heavy bag filled with camping equipment off the baggage carousel. As it turns out, it would have been a quicker transition to adventure if we’d flown to Oakland. Instead, we had a schlep across the Bay with our bags, through Oakland to the next suburb south to pick up the Jucy Van. Thank goodness I wasn’t a German tourist on a transcontinental flight.
Pam signed the form, we got the keys, and from there, Pam had the map. Well, the plan. Or an idea, mostly. I spent my time in the passenger’s seat, trying to pay attention. This worked out mostly well as Pam drove us for three days around the seashore. My one time in the driver’s seat with a plan had us inching along giant cliffs above the maw of the sea, with Pam pleading for me to drive faster and explaining how everything she learned she learned in San Jose or Austria.
Point Reyes, mid-week, pre-Season, and on a series of the sunniest days anyone could remember for May was incredible, and all the sweaters in our bag useless. It’s a surprisingly rural area, with tiny twee towns and not much cell coverage, given how close it is to San Francisco and not at all what I was expecting. In the summer, I can imagine that despite the usual fog, it must be a bit of traffic jam/scene/horror, but for my time there, I couldn’t think of any place better, nor did I particularly want to leave.