Returning to the Marin County Coast



A few months ago a buddy and I went out hiking near the Green Gulch Zen Center. When I was first moved to California my future hiring manager took me to this hike. It’s a steep, but short hike up to the ridge line and the hike has great views of San Francisco and the east bay. Afterwords we decided to amble a bit on the Marin County Coast. I was reminded how neat this area was on the drive.

I wanted to take the bike up there and do some exploring again. Monterey and Marin are about the same distance from San Jose, but since Monterey doesn’t have a long slog of traffic through the city and a toll bridge to cross I often head south. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This time that axiom was true… It was time to go to Marin.

The day started off cool and foggy. It seems like it’s only in the Bay Area where you need to get your coat, winter gloves, and liner to go riding in the middle of August. The coastal fog was in full force! Skyline Boulevard was damp and full of leaves in many spots. To save time we made our way back to Interstate 280 and headed north into San Francisco. Traffic I have to say wasn’t that bad through the city. My last two times in the city it’s been miserable. This time not so much. Score!

The first major stop was the north vista point of the Golden Gate Bridge. We were picking up a few riders in the city and it’s easier to meet up outside of the city. While I was waiting I got a few shots of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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After leaving the city one of the riders in the group mentioned the Muir beach overlook. I first stopped here on the above hike and noted how pretty the overlook was. There is a long stairway that leads to a very pretty perch over the Pacific Ocean.

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Once down at the bottom, it’s a great view of the ocean

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but a fun climb back up!

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Lunch was just down the way in Stinson Beach. I didn’t have any great local knowledge of the area and yelp let us to the Sand Dollar Restaurant.

Sand Dollar Restaurant (C is average. No grade inflation here):

SeatingBWe arrived at one o’clock on a Sunday afternoon.  We were seated within 5 minutes.
AtmosphereDThe patio was nice, but there’s no view and you sit someone close to the road.  If the weather is bad, it’s better to sit inside.They had a band playing that day and the music was too loud for casual conversation.  I consider it a major downer when I have to work to converse with the party at my table.
Wait StaffC-I would describe our waitress is functional.  She didn’t really go above the bar in any particular area.
FoodC+The food was actually really good.  One thing to note, portions are small.  Because we are riding bikes, that was actually a really good thing.  It helped to limit the food coma factor afterwards.
ValueD+Dishes were pricey given the relatively small portions you got.
OverallC-The restaurant was good, but nothing really stood out.  I think there are many other places that have far more unique qualities but inattention I would have no problem going back here.

The band:

Having our stomachs somewhat full we continue to ride north. As expected traffic was fairly thick between the Golden gate Bridge in Stinson Beach. Once north of Stinson Beach things opened up very rapidly. It was a great ride along the coast on Highway 1. Once we made it to Point Reyes Station we stopped at the Bovine Bakery on recommendation from one of the riders in the group. Lunch was fairly light so the group was more than willing to stop.

Bovine Bakery (C is average. No grade inflation here):

SeatingN/AThere is only one bench in the bakery.  It’s not a place you go to sit and eat.
AtmosphereC-Things appeared clean and functional inside the bakery.  There is nothing that stood out as exceptionally interesting inside. The case where they stored food seemed disorganized.  Items that I thought would be out front and in plain sight were hidden.  For example, the cookies weren’t right out front for the casual eye to see.
Wait StaffCAgain no real winner here.  The cashier was pleasant, but I felt like she could have done more to engage us as customers.
FoodC-I had a chocolate covered macaroon.  I was expecting a conglomerate of loosely shaven coconut was chocolate on about half of it.  Instead I got a mound of finely ground coconut where the top was dipped in chocolate.  I guess I’ve been spoiled by Crema Coffee and San Jose but this felt like one strange cookie.
ValueCMy macaroon was $2.25.  Seems par for the area.
OverallCThis one is a clear average.  I’d go back, but my hunch is all fine something else that will edge this bakery out.

At Point Reyes Station we turned inland and left the coast. This was probably the best part of the ride. There is no traffic heading through the towns of Fairfax, Nicasio, and Bolinas. The turns were great and the pavement was good for the most part. Bolinas Road was a bit of a surprise as the road is very technical and the pavement sucks. Once we summitted the “pass” on Bolinas Road we turned left onto Ridgecrest Road. This was probably my favorite stretch of pavement the entire day. Ridgecrest Road is a part of Mount Tamalpais State Park. The road affords great views of the Pacific Ocean and has nice turns throughout.

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After Ridgecrest Road fades into the Panoramic Highway more and more traffic impeded our travel as we headed towards 101. Getting over the bridge was a bit of the nightmare has traffic was backed up almost to the Highway 1/Highway 101 junction.

All in all though a great day out on the bike.


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