Point Reyes (5/7/2022)

Today I became TWICE CERTIFIED as a California Naturalist.

I could have easily spent another five Saturdays exploring the amazing Pt. Reyes, but, alas. It was time for the class to end. Time to graduate. Time to get that second piece of paper and second pin.

For our last day, we visited the Point Reyes Lighthouse Overlook, the Sea Lion Overlook, and the Elephant Seal Overlook. We overlooked A LOT. And, we finished the day with the remaining Capstone Projects, the handing out of Certificates and Pins, and a goodbye circle.

Since I’m choosing to spend my Saturday evening enjoying writing my post (rather than hurriedly throwing stuff up to get to bed to pass out), this will not be a brief post. You’ve been warned.

No, I am not a morning person. NOT AT ALL. I fully admit it has been difficult to awaken to the gawdawfulhour my alarm has been set to these past five Saturdays (BEFORE 6AM, BY GAWD). For a night owl, it has been TOUGH. But, I must also admit I will miss my Saturday routine. Being up and getting ready to go while Brian is asleep (for a change!). Making coffee as quietly as possible. Making my sandwich for lunch. Driving through the city with solittletraffic. Having an easybreezy drive up North.

I also need to note that for my last day I wore the Fly Agaric mushroom socks that Yvonne gifted me during my last Capstone Project. Felt like the perfect day to try them out, with my Capstone Project all done and behind me.

And, today, Google Maps told me the fastest route was via Lucas Valley Road. My favorite route to Pt. Reyes!! While I didn’t see any deer or turkeys this time, it is such a gorgeous drive into West Marin. And, this is comparing it to the lovely drive through Samuel P. Taylor Park (the most common route). It was a lovely way to begin my last adventure for this course. The green hillsides were covered with vast purple patches of lupine. Just divine.

Not only did I get to take my favorite way in, but I also had justenoughtime to stop one more time at Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station before heading to our first location of the day. This was my third Saturday in a row doing this. And, yeah. Starting your day off with kick-ass pastries fresh from the bakery is pretty awesome. I was there so early today that I was actually first in line! A FIRST for me! Perhaps, EVER at an establishment opening sodangearly in the morning??

Third awesome point that started my day (before my class even started) was spotting a Northern Flicker on the side of the road soon after I started driving into Point Reyes proper. AND, I even saw a Coyote somewhere in the midst of the dairy farms and cows. Yeah. Magic quite early in the day for me.

Mule Deer and tons of Douglas Iris greeted me at the Lighthouse. We started there, with our guest Naturalist for the day, and we spent time looking for whales (nope), other marine mammals (one California Sea Lion), and sea birds – Common Murres nesting, Pigeon Guillemots, a Pelagic Cormorant, and a Peregrine Falcon that enjoyed flying over us were the highlights. And, colorful Seashore Lupine (?), Seaside Daisies and Oregon Gumplant and Sea Thrift and Salal and Orange Rock Hair and Field Chickweed and Springbank Clover (?) all brightened my day.

We then made our way to the Sea Lion Overlook, where a handful of California Sea Lions were lazing about. Along with some Northern Elephant Seals and a Harbor Seal. But, a constantly moving Rock Wren kept most of us busy trying to see it or photograph it. I’m honestly amazed I got ONE PHOTO of it in focus. AMAZED.

Last field stop was at the Elephant Seal Overlook. After a lunch break, I enjoyed the environs, which included newtome Pale Dewplant, a White-crowned Sparrow that didn’t mind me so close to it singing, and a Field Crescent butterfly. We watched the juvenile Elephant Seals and listened to them making their “Gronk” noises (as I believe is how Tammy describes it?). As entertaining as they were, it was challenging for me not to just stand and stare at the hillside of wildflowers next to the overlook spot. Douglas Irises and Western Blue-Eyed Grass and Coast Paintbrush and Narrowleaf Mule-Ears (I think) all just begged to be admired.

While I have tried many times, literally NONE of my medium or wide shots of wildflowers look ANYTHING LIKE how they look in person. But, it was stunning. Trust me.

After learning all about the Elephant Seals, we left The Field for the PRNSA Office to watch the remaining Capstone Project presentations. They were all so different and entertaining and educational and inspiring. It was a sincere treat to just sit back and watch everyone share their projects to the group. Everyone got their Certificate and Pin. And, we all said “Goodbye.”

This was such a different class and different teacher and different group of people and different place entirely from my last CalNat class in the Sierras. Yes, I pluralized it.

But, I pretty much left with the same result. I learned a lot. I fell in love with a place. I accomplished some things. I am interested in new things, like actually seeing real beavers! In Fairfield! This Sunday!! I have a renewed sense of being part of a much larger and wonderfuller world. So many good things.

I walked away from the PRNSA office to take in my last image of the place and my time there. And, unintentionally, it was the same image I started with. A green meadow filled with orange (California Poppies) and purple (Sky Lupine) with serene deer in the distance. I foolishly thought I knew and loved Pt. Reyes. But, no. I can now say I know it and am in love with it. And, there’s still so much more for me to discover there. Can’t hardly wait.

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