Marin County drive

A good friend from out of state was visiting this weekend so we decided to go for a drive to Marin County. Marin is located north of San Francisco; the two are connected by the Golden Gate Bridge. This is arguable one of the most beautiful spots in California, and certainly one of the most beloved by its residents.

Our first stop was Battery Spencer in the Marin Headlands. From there you have a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge towards the San Francisco. We were there at 10:30 in the morning so the light wasn’t the greatest (late afternoon is best) but it’s still a a jaw-dropping sight.

Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco from Battery Spencer

Taking Conzelman Road, we stopped at several other batteries that date back to the 1800s. Here is an interesting article about them. Most are open for exploration, and walking through the dim tunnels is lots of fun, not just for kids.

Rodeo Beach near Marin Headlands Visitor Center

Several hours later we found ourselves in elusive Bolinas—road signs pointing to the town keep disappearing. We had a great lunch at Coast Café; be prepared for a long wait on Sundays, but the food is worth it.

From San Francisco north to Bodega Bay and beyond, one of the most striking plants you’ll see in bloom at this time of year is Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans). Native to the island of Madeira in the North Atlantic and related to the Tower of Jewels (Echium wildpretii) that we have growing in our yard, it thrives in the sunny but cool coastal climate.

Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans)

Flowers are usually purple (left in the photo below) but blue cultivars have become very popular as well. We had a variegated variety called Star of Madeira a couple of years ago and it did really well in our yard until it got killed off by frost (it’s only hardy to 30°F or so and I had forgotten to cover it).

Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans)

Aeoniums, native to the Canary Islands, also thrive in the Marin County climate. The following two photos were taken in Bolinas.

Several aeonium species. Check out that flower stalk!
Aeonium (most likely canariense) nestled against a piece of driftwood

After lunch, we continued north towards Point Reyes, stopping frequently to take photos.

Spring in Northern California distilled into one photo
Cypress-lined country road near Bolinas
Stand of Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus) north of Bolinas. In Marin County, eucalyptus trees are hated as much as they are loved, but it’s hard to resist the incredible fragrance that wafts into your car as you drive along a eucalyptus-lined road.

After a coffee break in Point Reyes Station, a small burg of 800 declared one of the 10 coolest towns by Budget Travel, we turned east and slowly made our way back to Davis, again stopping often to photograph the constantly changing interplay of puffy white clouds, blue sky, and electrically green hills.

110410_hills clouds2
110410_hills clouds

Sometimes taking a day off and going for a leisurely drive is the best thing you can do to recharge your batteries.


  1. Beautiful! You're right: a long drive on a day with great weather *is* a good recharge. It's been a while since I've been able to do that... I should plan one for the next good weekend.

  2. Superb photos Gerhard! Thoroughly enjoyed your photologue, especially Point Reyes, stunning place :)


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