Taylor in Muir Woods

Taylor and I thought it was a perfect day to see the beautiful outdoors of the northern California coast, so we went exploring.

We packed up the car with some almonds and water to snack on, cruised out of downtown Berkley and made our way past San Francisco towards the mountains and oceans beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was cool, the sky was clear, there was a slight breeze and the sun was high. It was perfect weather for a corduroy jacket, sharp walking boots and a light scarf for the shade.

We decided to start the day off with a hike – this is one of Taylor’s favorite things to do, and one of the reasons she left Florida for California. I can’t argue. With some Caribou on Pandora and windows down, we began our trek up the mountains. We drove up some very windy roads with lots of turns, like we were maneuvering between mountains, and when we arrived to a decent parking lot near some trails, we pulled over and let the hiking begin.

Walking paths were carved out of the dry yellow grass and went in all directions, like a network of thin veins, or an intricate spider’s web. We walked slowly, following different paths until we came upon some rocks at a lookout point. The view made us stop in our tracks – a 360 panorama with mountains, oceans, the Golden Gate bridge and San Francisco behind it. It was breathtaking. Taylor had to stop and of course, make some calls to explain to all her friends how beautiful this all was. Luckily the phone didn’t kill the whole nature scene, so I captured this moment below.

San Francisco Hiking Break

Our next stop after the mountains was the beach. From our vantage on the hike, saw a bunch of different beaches to explore, and figured it’d be fun to find a couple of them and see how they were at ocean level. So we hopped in the car and drove back down. We sort of navigated by sight and signs, with just a little GPS help to make sure we didn’t get too lost on our way down. I didn’t even notice how long the drive was because it was so pretty along the way. The drive was part of our fun. I believe this follows the feeling that the journey is just as meaningful as the destination.

It was nice taking in everything we passed by through the open car window. What a contrast between the oceans and the mountains – they are so different in what they offer, yet here in California, so close to each other. Florida is so flat, it can seem one-dimensional. But this area was filled with hills, valleys, nooks and crannies. Convenience stores were tucked into charming clapboard cottages instead of concrete strip malls. Driveways off the busy main road were peppered with greenery and trees, and went up or down sharply then curved out of sight, making you wonder how beautiful and serene all the hidden homes were, and what kind of spectacular mountain, valley or ocean views they embraced. Things were steep! People actually use their emergency brake to park, all the time, which was very foreign to me.

We found our way to Stinson beach, near Bolinas, and nearly had the beach to ourselves. The sand stretched out wide and flat before us, before reaching the cool blue water. A faded sign warned us of rip currents and dangerous sharks, which made the water seem perilous but all the more intriguing. We had no intention to swim as it was not swimming weather anyway. The sand was a golden bronze color and while the bottom was packed tightly, a light upper layer kept getting pulled up with the breeze, creating a surreal looking, woven sand mist that hovered about 1 foot over the top of the ground.

Stinson Beach California near Bolinas



This was such a beautiful and peaceful day. I will remember this moment forever.


Written by Suzi Albrecht
Digital Project Manager and Traveler