Hiking: I've never had it so good

I love how accessible the San Francisco Bay Area is to hikers.

I grew up in Oxford, and then lived in Edinburgh for many years. They're both beautiful and surrounded by countryside, too. In particular, in Oxford I became used to hiking up to Shotover to watch the sunset or take pictures over the Thames Valley. Shotover inspired both Narnia and Middle Earth, but its beauty and variety fades in comparison with San Francisco.

Twenty minutes in the car can bring me to waves crashing against cliffsides; to rolling, green hills; to pine-scented woodland; to vineyards; to marinas and paddleboats. There's even an English pub nestled in the Marin hills, as if flown brick-by-brick across the Atlantic.

Sometimes, I kick myself that it took so long for me to get here. I'm so glad this is where I am.

Nike Missile Site SF-51

Abandoned in 1974, and now looking a little worse for wear.

Taking a walk along the Pacifica waterfront

Erin had an unpleasant encounter with a seagull.

The beach at Pacifica

Pretty, but also the site of some pretty horrible shark attacks.

The San Francisco Bay was discovered from this spot.

The first recorded European discovery, that is - of course, there were plenty of indigenous people who had been here before. These days, it's a nice place to see both the Pacific Ocean and flights taking off from SFO.

Point Reyes

Across from the expedition marker is another monument. It has a cylinder on top with markers of the various landmarks in the vicinity. The monument is inscribed:
"In memory of Carl Patrick McCarthy whose dedicated efforts for national recognition of the Portola expedition's discovery of San Francisco Bay in 1769 included personally bringing 11,863 visitors to this discovery site and presenting the expedition's history in pictures to 9343 between 1966 and his death October 15, 1981."

Portola Expedition Discovery

In 1769, Gaspar de PortolĂ  and his expedition party discovered the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay. They had been traveling north from San Diego in search of Monterey Bay, but they missed it because they were looking for something more significant. PortolĂ  ended his voyage here and named the bay after St Francis. The expedition was the first recorded European exploration of California.

California Poppys

State Flower - Eschscholzia californica

Slopes of eucalyptus

A wild iris along the trail