San Francisco 2011, Day Eight

We woke up at the crack o’ dawn on Sunday1 to drive down to Muir Woods as soon as the park opened, and before all the tourists arrived. Choosing the path less taken every time, we found ourselves on a beautiful two-hour hike through the woods, culminating in a spectacular view across the park. Mist was still blowing through the trees, so the landscape changed every couple of minutes. Spotted some cute banana slugs,2 a gaggle of chipmunks,3 and a couple of hawks. I also made friends with a lizard and he allowed me to get within a few inches for some excellent reptile portraits. He was missing half his tail, so perhaps his amiable demeanor didn’t work with hungry foxes and birds.

Then we droveĀ 4 over to Mount Tamalpais,5 hiked to the top,6 and enjoyed even better views of Marin, San Francisco, Sonoma, and the park itself. I made the mistake of identifying a large bird as a vulture, but was quickly corrected by a fellow hiker. “It’s a condor,” he said, “Calling it a vulture is the biggest insult in the bird world.” Sorry, condor.7 After chatting in the gift shop with an elderly woman wearing a tiara,8 we reluctantly left the park, accompanied by an escort of seven or so cyclists. Crossed a mist-cloaked Golden Gate Bridge, parked, and ended the day lounging in a sunny park with some fresh pastries from a local bakery. Not bad, eh?

More photos on Flickr.

  1. After being previously awakened at 4:30am by a prank call to our motel room. Insider tip: If you ever decide to prank call somebody in a motel at 4:30 in the morning, try to think of a better pitch than “There are starving children in Africa so we’re charging you extra to park your non-hybrid car.” Not especially believable. The man in the room adjacent to ours went into a 10-minute yelling fit when he got the call just after us. And the motel staff said the police were on their way. There’s a special place in hell for people who prank call at 4:30am. []
  2. Yes, I think banana slugs are cute. []
  3. Ten points to anyone who can tell me the real name for a group of chipmunks. []
  4. There were so many bicyclists on the road that–at times–it seemed like we were on a large two-lane bicycle path. I loved seeing the sheer number of cyclists in Marin County. Wish we had that kind of bicycle traffic in the DC area. Maybe then it would be a bit safer for cyclists. []
  5. Or “Mount Tam”, as it’s affectionately called by locals. []
  6. Where we saw a guy on a nearby cliff getting ready for some rock climbing and enjoyed the shocked reactions of other tourists: “What’s he doing?” “I can’t believe he’s that close to the edge!” “Is he still standing there??” Apparently they didn’t know about rock climbing. And how sometimes people do that. []
  7. I guess it’s much more exciting, though, to see a critically endangered species. Glad condors are still out and about in California. []
  8. And buying a surprise for my mother! []

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