The bus driver drove us along the waterfront, past the Presidio whe I had bicycled nearly 2 months ago, and up to the toll booth
. We cruised through and were soon crossing over San Francisco Bay on the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a clear, sunny day and I could see the city of Sausileto across the bay as well as Angel Island and Alcatraz. When we crossed the bridge, we entered a tunnel and on the other side, we passed by the turn-off for Sausileto and headed up the mountain. The road was winding, with many tight curves and switch backs. The bus driver did a great job negotiating the tight turns. At one point, we passed what looked like a dry creek bed winding down the mountain side and going under the road. Our driver told us that this was the San Andreas Fault line where the Pacific Tectonic Plate and the North American Tectonic Plate meet. Some day, this is where the next major earthquake will hit San Francisco. We passed by the fault line and continued up the winding road. Soon we crested the top of the mountain and we could see the Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Coast Highway down below. Off in the distance we could see the Farallon Islands off the coast. These islands are the California breeding grounds for Great White Sharks. Then we began our descent down the other side of the mountain. Eventually we came to the entrance of Muir Woods National Monument. The driver parked the bus and told us we had one hour to wander around the trails in the park.
Muir Woods is one of the last remaining stands of Coastal Redwoods in the San Francisco area. The area was purchased and preserved by the foresight of William and Elizabeth Kent in the early 1900's. They donated the property to the federal government and President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed it a National Monument ensuring its permanent protection. At the request of the Kent's, it was named after conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir.
I walked from the parking lot into the park entrance and almost immediately I was in the shade of these towering coastal redwood trees. The temperature was quite cool in the shade of the forest. The Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens
), is a relative of the Giant Redwood (Sequoia giganteum), which are found in Northern California on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Range. These trees only grow along a thin strip of Pacific Coastline running from Big Sur California to the Southern porton of Oregon. Most of the places where they orignally grew have been cut down. They are still found today, mostly in National and State Parks and here in Muir Woods. These trees are truly awe inspiring. I stood there admiring them for quite some time--thankful that the Kents had preserved this forest for posterity.
The statistics are that these trees grow to a height of 379 feet and can live up to 2000 years. They reach a maximum diameter of 22 feet at breast height. However, the statistics do not do these trees justice. When you stand next to them and look up, their size and age is mind boggling. I walked along the path through an area called the Bohemian Grove. As I walked along, I tried to be quiet in hopes that I might see some wildlife, but I didn't see any animals. I did see some interesting flowers, mushrooms, ferns and horsetails though
. Eventually, I crossed over the Redwood Creek that meanders through the park and made my way into an area called the Cathedral Grove. They had signs posted that today was a "quiet day" in Cathedral Grove and that you should not talk and should silence your cell phones. However, apparently the other visitors in the grove either couldn't read of ignored the signs and were jabbering on loudly. It would have been nice to just stand in silence and admire the beauty of these trees, but rudeness prevailed. Eventually, I realized that the time was slipping away from me, and I began making my way back to the tour bus. I would have loved to spend the whole afternoon hiking these trails among the redwoods, but the tour bus was to take us to see the city of Sausileto next.
I was one of the last to board the bus and we soon departed for the short drive to Sausileto. We drove back over the mountain. As we were headed down the other side towards the city of Sausileto we saw a small herd of Black-tailed Deer grazing along the roadside. When we came off the mountain, we turned and drove into the city of Sausileto. Located in Marin County, the richest county in the US, this is a very pricey place to live. The driver parked the bus near the marina, and gave us and hour to walk around and look in the shops. I walked down to the water and took a few photos looking across the bay towards San Francisco
. I could not see the Golden Gate Bridge from my vantage point, as it was blocked by the mountainside. I stopped for some ice cream at a little shop and a then had a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Based on the prices in the shops, that was about all I could afford in Sausileto! I was bored after about 20 minutes and again I was wishing we had skipped Sausileto and stayed the whole afternoon in Muir Woods. Several others on the tour expressed the same sentiments. I walked down to the marina and looked at the boats and then stood and waited for the bus to come pick us up. He came and picked us up about 5:15 and we drove back towards the Bridge. As we were driving up towards the tunnel, he pointed out a pink house on the hillside where Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones live. We passed through the tunnel and traveled back over the Golden Gate Bridge. I had the driver drop me off near Fisherman's Warf.
After the bus dropped me off, I walked down to the water and made my way to a restaurant called Scoma's. This is a old and famous restaurant on the Warf, which is well known for its seafood. Since it was still early, I was able to get a table immediately. I ordered a cup of clam chowder as an appetizer and broiled snapper and a salad for my main course. It was quite good and the service was excellent. What a difference working for tips makes! When I was done, I walked around the warf area for a little while and then I caught the F-Line Trolley back to Powell Street. I climbed back on the BART and rode back to the Airport, where I caught the hotel shuttle back to the Hilton Garden Inn. I sat and relaxed in the hot tub for a while and then went to the room to relax. This was my last day of touring as tomorrow evening I will head back to Pensacola.
I slept in this morning and had a leisurely breakfast at the restraurant downstairs. Then I hung out in my room and returned emails until about 11:00 am. Then I caught a ride on the airport shuttle. From the airport I rode on the BART train into the city. I got off at the Powell Street station and found a street vendor and had a good old American Hotdog. I tried eating a hotdog in Melbourne. At least the called it a hotdog, but it had no taste or resemblance to an American Hotdog. I sat on the steps nearby and ate my lunch. Then I made my way to the nearby Parc 55 Hotel which was the place I was told to meet the tour bus for Muir Woods. A few minutes after one, the bus arrived and picked me up. The driver drove around the city picking up others who were also on the tour. Eventually we arrived at Ghirardelli Square at the Tower Tours office. We picked up a few other folks and left at 2:00 pm for Muir Woods.