Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tomales Bay Paddle, October 23

Heart’s Desire Beach offers plenty to a paddler. It is a lovely sandy beach in a cliff-protected cove on the western shore of Tomales Bay. Bishop Pines—rare this far north—look down from the cliffs above the beach and add a hint of mountain spice to salty estuarine air. 

Getting ready to paddle
Because Heart’s Desire is set near the middle of the bay, a paddler may choose to venture as far as five miles either north towards the mouth or south towards Lagunitas Creek. About a score of Petaluma Paddlers met this morning and paddled south towards Inverness into a rare southerly headwind. Our muscles warmed, the headwind faltered, and the autumn sun shone with summery vigor. We decided to stop along the way at Teacher’s Beach to strip off the extra layers of clothing some of us put on at the start. 

Heading south towards Inverness
As we continued south to Millerton Point the wind disappeared entirely leaving a glassy water of almost Tahoe clarity. Looking down we could see waving eelgrass, pulsing jellyfish, sandy areas scattered with shells, leopard sharks, and bat rays. 

Sarah looking into the pellucid waters

Some of us paddled far enough south to visit the dilapidated remnants of the North Pacific Coast Railway that ran through here from 1874 to 1930’s. Ray, Dick, Joe, and Tom told about the engineering of the railroad grade along the eastern shore of Tomales Bay. They were bringing history to life. Had my stomach not growled so much, I might have been able to imagine the sound of the train’s steam whistle.

Dick, Joe, Tom, and Ray at the railroad grade

The morning was wearing on, and we decided to head back to Heart’s Desire for lunch. The winds we enountered as we came south seemed to still be blowing across the middle reaches of Tomales Bay. They made for some fun small waves right at the end of the trip.
The Petaluma Paddlers are deservedly noted for their not-to-be-missed potlucks. Today’s was like that. Many people—more than the score of paddlers we started out with— shared dishes special enough to evoke contented gasps of pleasure. Either the food was really good or I was really hungry, but oh, man. It can be hard to know whether it's the paddling in paradise or the ambrosia we eat that keeps us coming back. 

Soon some ukuleles appeared and, well, maybe it was too much of a good thing—or maybe just too much wine. In any event there was singing, smiling, and eating good food and sharing good company—exactly what our hearts desire.


Delwyn said...

Good paddling
Good company
and good food

the trinity...

steven said...

a dramy good day dan! how is it that pot lucks cause people to emerge from nowhere?!!!! steven

Teresa Evangeline said...

Oh My, that second photo of the sunlight on the water is so tantalizing. I can see why you keep going back to these get-togethers. There's something about being so close to the water. Ukuleles, good food and wine. Sounds wonderful.

Dan Gurney said...

Delwyn, steven, and T.E. thanks for commenting. It was a splendid outing.