Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Point Reyes

Nanc standing on the San Andreas Fault. The fence in the foreground was connected to the fence by Nanc before the 1906 earthquake.
The water on the left is the Pacific Ocean and on the right is Drakes Bay. The buildings are part of the old lifeboat station.
Some of the birds we saw at the point.
Deer on the cliff above the Pacific.
The weight and pulley system that turned the original light.
The Point Reyes Lighthouse. The large building had the steam system for the fog horn and the backup generator for the light.
Looking down the 308 steps to the lighthouse.

We did a day trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, a unique bit of land that is on the western side of the San Andreas fault. During the 1906 earthquake this peninsula jumped 20 feet farther north from San Francisco in just a few seconds. While this quake is remembered for the major destruction of the city it also damaged this rural area. You can walk directly above the fault line and see a fence with a 20 foot gap as part of it is on one tectonic plate and part on another. If you look at Google Earth you can actually see evidence of the fault line by the shape of the land and bays. When we left Santa Rosa we had sunny skies, but as we neared the coast the fog and clouds thickened. They did remain high enough that we were able to see very well.

The history of Point Reyes goes back to long before 1906 when Sir Francis Drake landed there in 1579. He spent five weeks repairing his ship before sailing west across the Pacific on his around the world voyage. While there, he traded with the Miwok Indians and hunted deer. He named it Nova Albion (New England) as the shoreline reminded of the Dover coast. It was almost 200 years after Drake's visit before the Europeans discovered the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay just a few miles south. As we drove to the end of the road we saw hundreds of deer and a large herd of elk. There were many varieties of birds including hawks, herons and ravens as well as seals and sea lions. We were surprised to find many ranches with huge herds of dairy cattle and found they date back to as early as 1852.

The Point Reyes Lighthouse at the south end of the peninsula was used from 1870 to 1975. This light has a unique location on the side of the cliff 308 steps from the top so it would be below the fog that so often blankets the area. The original light, a first order Fresnel, is no longer used but is still in very good repair. The lighthouse also has the original weight and pulley system that turned the light. We have seen many lighthouses with Fresnel lenses but they have all been changed to electric motors. Even though it was not functioning it was quite interesting seeing this old system that was used in most lights. The old coal fired steam powered fog horn system used during foggy weather, which was often, is still in place. On the other side of the point on Drakes Bay is the historic lifeboat station that was built in 1927.

For most of the time we have been here we have had blue sky and warm temps. But as I am writing this, California is getting the first Pacific storm of the season. It has rained ALL day with winds of 40 to 50 miles per hour. For maybe the first time since being on the road we did not even venture outside. Fortunately, the forecast for the next ten days is for a return to the nicer weather.

1 comment:

MarkandRenita said...

Point Reyes National Seashore, definetly on our to do list. Nice entry and great pics as usual!