I am recapping the wonderful time that I had with my family here in the States this summer. See all related posts under the category: summer tales. (I’ve done these recap posts the last few times when I had family visit, and if you want to see how fast kids grow up, check out one of the previous posts from 2015.)
We did not waste any time. We started our vacation with a shorter, 5-day trip to the Bay Area on Wednesday. In hindsight, we should have maybe planned an extra day or two for everyone to acclimate to the timezone and heat, but hey, sleep is overrated and the Bay Area promised to be significantly cooler than the Central Valley. So there was that.
As the Bay Area is notoriously expensive, we decided to stay two nights at the Inn Marin & Suites Ascend Hotel in Novato in the North Bay and take day trips from there. It was also a relatively short drive from Sacramento. We arrived around lunch time and were able to check in a little early, which left the rest of the afternoon to explore.
We had previously contemplated and decided that the Earthquake Trail in Bear Valley and the Point Reyes Lighthouse would be doable in the time window we had left for the day.
First, we drove about 40 minutes to the Bear Valley Visitor Center, where I was able to get the first stamp for my National Park Passport. Have you heard of the National Park Passport? It’s a small booklet (in dark blue, like the US passport) that you can use to collect “stamps” at every National Park that you visit. It also serves a good cause.
“When you participate in the Passport To Your National Parks® program, you help support America’s national parks. All net proceeds from the program are donated to support vital educational and interpretive programs at sites managed by the National Park Service.“
If that’s not a good reason to participate, I don’t know what is.
After that, we went on the short 1km Earthquake Trail where you can learn more about the San Andreas Fault that runs right through there. In case you didn’t know, I wrote my thesis about the San Andreas Fault, so I have a weird fascination with this particular geologic phenomenon. It’s probably why a lot of people think that I work in earthquake science (which sadly, I do not, although I have occasionally been involved with projects related to earthquakes).
My sister insisted that she remembered that we had already been there on her first visit to the USA (which for whatever strange reason I can’t seem to recall). She said that she remembered this trail, where these two offset wooden fences illustrate the 10-foot shift that occurred along the San Andreas Fault during the 1906 earthquake. (Fascinating, eh?)
We then drove on to the Point Reyes Lighthouse on the very tip of the Point Reyes National Seashore. It was pretty cool and windy right on the water. Unfortunately both the visitor center and the stairs down to the lighthouse were closed when we arrived, but we still enjoyed the view.
Me and my Dad
My mom and sister
We were back at the hotel around 7 p.m. and had to decide relatively quickly what we wanted to do for dinner (a problem that was to accompany us for most of the trip), because of course we didn’t know any restaurants in the area and had to search for a few ideas on Google . On top of that, most of the restaurants here in the US close very early, sometimes as early as 8:30 or 9 p.m., so we had to find somewhere to eat fast.
We decided to check out the Mexican restaurant, Maya Palenque, right near our hotel. That seemed the easiest option for the evening. Since the place was kind of crowded indoors, we asked to be seated on the patio and we got a table away from other people. We weren’t going to take any (unnecessary) risks with Covid, even though it was a bit chilly and we had to keep our jackets on.