Saturday, June 23, 2012


The first Sunday of June found the Heart's Desire Beach at Tomales Bay State Park filled with families enjoy-ing all of the usual beach acti-vities. The park has hiking trails and is a popular place for picnicking, swimming, clamming and boating. The weather was too brisk for a swim, but the under 18 crowd didn't seem to mind. Heck, when I was a kid, I too was always up for a dip regard-less of the temperature.

Tomales Bay State Park will be kept open through agree-ments signed by the National Park Service (NPS) and California State Parks. The two agencies have cooper-ated for years in the manage-ment of public lands in Marin County. These recent agree-ments reflect what has be-come a watershed approach to management of the parks.

Forty miles north of San Fran-cisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Tomales Bay includes lands within both Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

One of the finest remaining virgin groves of Bishop pine in California is in the park's Jepson Memorial Grove, reached by way of a one mile long trail. I paid my respects to the long-necked wooden creature guarding the path, who then granted me permission to explore the forest.

The first inhabitants of this coastal area were the Coast Miwok people, living in Tomales Bay's sheltered coves, beaches, tidal marshes, and Pine forests.

In 1579 Sir Francis Drake was the first explorer to land in this area, followed by a host of Spanish, Russian and German explorers over the next couple of centuries.

In the 1940s real estate deve-lopers began purchasing beach front land, prompting residents and conservation groups to save this area as a park. In 1952, Tomales Bay State Park was formally dedi-cated and opened to the public, and happily remains open for at least one more year under the new arrangements with NPS.

On this day, the Seagulls seemed pretty happy with the new arrangement as well. Mischievously swooping down onto the sand, they perused the momentarily unattended beach blankets and picnic lunches, making off with a morsel or two before the owners could rescue their food from the birds.

The famous San Andreas Fault lies directly beneath the twelve mile length of Tomales Bay. In the 1906 San Fran-cisco earthquake, the greatest mea-sured displacement along the entire fault was at Tomales Bay, when the area to the west moved an amazing twenty feet!

A walk around the cliffs revealed beautiful rock covered in moss, kelp and other ocean loving plant life.

A gentleman and his young son encouraged me to go around the next bend as well for a truly breathtaking view of the cliffs, but the tide was coming in and I was already ankle deep against the bluffs, so I chose to head back to the beach.

I have to say I am finding it genuinely heartening to see the many creative ways some of the parks are utilizing in order to remain open, even if only on a trail basis. And of late, it's also been nice to see the parks well attended.

I hope to see you at the state parks.


This blog is dedicated to the memory of my Father, who loved reading maps, exploring alternate routes, and taking the road less traveled.

Alvin David Dick, April 28, 1926 - May 20, 2012

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