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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Week 5: Muir Woods, day 6

We had heard that the Farmer's market at the Ferry Building downtown was worth a visit so we took one last bus ride into town. We were not disappointed. Tables filled with fresh produce allowing passersby to sample their fare were a delight to both the eye and the palette. We found a stall offering a delicious Mexican twist on breakfast and enjoyed sharing this amazing plate of food outside by the water. From there we took our first drive across the Golden Gate. It's really quite a thrill. The vista point on the north side of the bridge is the perfect stopping point for beautiful photographs. My parents have a classic photo of my brother and I in the very same spot that Doug and I took this one last week. It is such a lovely place with the city gleaming in the distance. It as hard to let go of the beautiful views of both the bridge and the city. But the wonder of the towering redwoods awaited us in Muir Woods.I don't really know what to say about these woods. I'm very thankful that they exist and that there are beautiful walkways and paths that one can wander through in order to enjoy the wonder of these majestic creations. It was wonderful to stroll these woods, quiet our thoughts and just enjoy a day filled with a pace that was totally different than city sight seeing.The woods allowed me some time to reflect on this great week that Doug and I were so privileged to share. California is a lovely and vast place, full of resources and beauty. We cannot understand why the economy here is so strapped. What is happening to cause such a debt? How can a place so full of resources struggle to thrive financially?
I really loved the diversity of San Francisco and the whole feel of that city. It felt like a friendly place, not threatening, warm, inviting. We stayed at an old Travellodge near the Golden Gate bridge. An Indian family was running it and they could not have been nicer. I was happy we gave up more luxury accommodation to support a family that is struggling to make ends meet. They spoke of how they were seeking to stay afloat, keep their long-term employees employed and offer good, modest service to those not wanting to pay extra for parking, internet access, and other extras. One of the draws of the hotel was the free parking option as hotels near Fisherman's Wharf were charging $45.00 per day extra to park. Internet access was also free and efficient and the hotel was right on a major bus line that took us everywhere we wanted to go. It was fun to ride to bus, to sit with the locals and get a feel for what it's like to live and move in San Francisco.
Crossing the bridge into Marin County was such a beautiful experience but the wealth needed to live in that area is a bit staggering. Even so, the lovely and amazing Muir Woods is accessible to all. I think if I lived in that area, I would find myself returning to this place of beauty over and over again.This is one tree taken with two photos. They really are regal, majestic creatures.

Muir woods marked the official end of our California coastal driving adventure. From there we took the most expedient route to highway 5 and began our journey back down the state. Even so, it was a clear day and so the views across the bay were pretty spectacular. As we passed through Berkeley and Oakland with San Francisco still in view to the right, I found myself straining to catch every last view of the area that I could. I was so happy that Doug finally had the chance to see this amazing area and I was so glad that he loved it as much as I do.
The drive home was actually quite wonderful. Highway 5 is lined with thousands of apricot trees and they were all in bloom. What a spectacular sight that was simply breathtaking. You hear that this drive is quite boring, but we didn't find that to be the case. It was soothing and easy and we enjoyed seeing the heart of California after enjoying the amazing coastline.
We stayed in a tiny little town called Santa Nella where just a few more than 100 people live and work. It was nice to relax and unwind after a day that had been filled with the amazing beauty of the California Redwood trees.