Freeway Free in California: Escape to Point Reyes
It’s summer, and even in a “Mediterranean climate” the thermometer’s are nudging 90. Time to head for the coast, but not the boardwalk-bordered surf beaches of the southern California coastline. We are heading for the fog on the west coast of Marin County, the relatively empty corner of the Bay Area north west of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Going north on Highway 280 at 10AM, we are basically counter-commuting, as the Young Single Professionals leave their hives in San Francisco to commute down to the massive complexes at Apple, Google, and FaceBook – just the opposite of how it worked fifty years ago when suburban residents trekked north to San Francisco’s financial, commercial, and professional centers. We skip along 19th Avenue, working our way stop-light by stop-light up the alphabet from Wawona through Irving, then snake through two big patches of greenery – Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, and finally we are on the bridge. The cool fog envelops the bridge so that there is only a hint of the City on our right, but we dive into the rainbow-framed tunnel on the other side and emerge into sunshine again, in marvelous Marin.
Google sends us through San Rafael, on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, a twisting 2-4 lane road which passes shopping centers and schools, then winds through pastures full of poster-ready contented cows and finally T’s into Highway 1 at Olema. There is a parking lot just ahead, and it is about noon, so we start searching Google for a lunch spot that might be open. We have come up dry (business must be slow in west Marin during the week) when we notice that the parking lot into which we have serendipitously pulled happens to be next to a restaurant called Due West, which is evidently open, and rates four Yelp stars. Why notgive it a try?
Four stars turns out to a serious under-rating. We order two appetizers and a side dish from the interesting menu, and end up doing a fair imitation of the famous scene in “When Harry met Sally”, moaning ecstatically with almost every bite. The mushroom toast was smothered in exotic varieties of fungus, the sautéed summer squash was delicately flavored, and the sauce on the mussels was so delicious that we ended up scrounging the toasts from under the mushrooms so we could soak up the mussel sauce.
Feeling very happy with our first meal choice, we turned north up Highway 1 to our hideaway cottage in Inverness. The Cottages at Point Reyes Seashore again exceeded our expectations.
We had a lovely room with a well-equipped kitchenette, including a hot water kettle as well as a coffee maker, and everything one might need for a light supper prep except for a cutting board. (Always bring a cutting board.) The cottage included a picnic table on a small patio overlooking a fountain and a couple of actively-patronized bird feeders, so we made our supper from the grocery bags we had brought with us and watched the birds. A perfectly restful ending to our escape.