The Golden Gate Bridge leads to a magical place filled with history and mystery. In the air, scents and sounds trigger memories of a time before metadata became all-consuming and the simple act of noticing served to preserve something meaningful.
Our day trip showed us the magic that floats along the coastline and revealed to us some things worthy of being remembered. Our intended destination was Muir Woods. Fortunately for us, not necessarily for Muir Woods, cars spilled over from every parking area and along the roadside for over a mile. So, we kept driving. The thrill of exploring new territory, new to us anyway, was made extra thrilling by the curves and switchbacks and stretches of road with low visibility and no guard rails! Our excitement grew as we approached Panoramic Parkway. Onlookers stood by the roadside snapping photos to their heart’s content. Photos, like our own, that do not do justice to the splendid scene.
We stopped to stretch and take a breath at Stinson Beach where we witnessed families enjoying the day together and the disappointment of a seagull that discovered what he thought was a picnic was only a bag of sand. It was too comical not to capture the effort of the perpetrator and his lookout trying to score some beachgoer’s lunch.
Forward to the edge of the world, where beach gave way to woodland and then to craggy cliff, we came upon two cemeteries. One was tucked deep into a churchyard protected by a row of majestic sentries. A crow protested our intrusion until he realized we meant no harm and left us to walk among the dead.
The other graveyard was high upon a hill behind a chain link fence. Hawks circled above as we strolled the silent hilltop. Cemeteries hold secrets, but they can also tell a story. If you know what you’re looking for, the story of immigrant populations unfolds in the names, dates, and ages chiseled in granite, marble, or stone of lesser value. Paying attention to details such as the location, size, and inscriptions on the markers, the story can take on a life of its own. Evidently, families that ferried together got buried together.
On our way back from Point Reyes Lighthouse there was a driver who could not abide with our traveling the speed limit and whizzed passed us in a fury only to be stopped in his tracks a half a mile down the road by what else but one of those California happy cows. It certainly made me happy to see this guy’s road rage foiled by a cow!
We made our way back into the city. Of course this is the view everybody goes for.
But if you look around, you see more.
This is how I try to find balance. By taking it all in, all of it, and working out for myself what is praiseworthy, what is salvageable, and what is too heavy for me to carry, but that must not be forgotten. All of this is important. All of this goes with us. All of this is life.
The beauty, glorious and powerful, the pain, devastating and necessary, and the middle ground, where seraphs and fears hover in spheres, agreeing to disagree.
26 thoughts on “Middle Ground”
I love Northern California – It’s so rugged and filled with amazing places like those you have shown. I love seeing shots of the bridge in the fog – so etherial.
Your pictures brought back so many wonderful memories of a trip I took down the coast many years ago with children and dogs packed in a hippie van. Can a trip be both eventful and uneventful at the same time?
I love the Muir! We were fortunate, we were able to stop and wander. Your pictures are wonderful, along with the narrative of what your eyes and heart saw.
With a van load of children and dogs, I can’t imagine that trip was uneventful. Passing up Muir Woods was disappointing at first, but then the entire forest opened up to us all along the rest of the drive and we would have missed so much if we’d pulled over and trekked back with the crowds. As Mr. Petruska pointed out, I am a lone cow. Well, me and my loyal follower. We had a blast on this trip.
Wonderful and unforgettable.
Loved the photos! I’ve never been to California. I do have cows and pesky seagulls in my backyard though. I loved the cemetery shots, I really enjoy walking around reading tombstones with my kids (I’m weird that way, I guess)
I’d love to visit Maine. I bet there are some great cemeteries to explore there. (I’m weird that way too.) When is blueberry season? That might be a good time for a trip. Oh, I’m going to get started on my Maine campaign right away!
Yes, come visit! Blueberry season is just winding down now. So early August to mid-August is a great time to visit. Cemetery season is all year round.
Hot damn! I’ve got some planning to do. When is it spring up there, sometime in July? I can see a Maineiac HonieBriggs blueberry picking ghost hunter post in our future!
Spring? What’s that?
Gorgeous views and you were paying attention. Thank you for bringing them to us.
Quickie vacations always get my full attention. Having only a few days, I try to take in as much scenery as possible without needing to create an agenda, but by being open to whatever is out there. This approach works well for me.
I’m impressed that you don’t have a single shot of Alcatraz. It’s such an iconic, touristy photo op, I’m glad you were able to resist the urge. You, ma’am, are the lone cow in the road, instead of being part of the herd.
I hope you have no beef with that analogy. Moo-ving right along…
Lone cow or awesome bitch, it’s all the same to me, Mr. Petruska.
Let’s compromise and say Üdderly Awesome Bitch.™
See what I did there?
I like it. I like it umlaut!! See what I did there?
I’m jealous because you can walk around saying, “Me so Honie. Oh, oh, so Honie.”
Gah. It’s been a loooong day, can you tell?
What’s wrong with you is no little thing. Go do the dishes or something.
Ha. I’m still at work! Multi-tasking, of course. I’ll do them when I get home, Mrs. Briggs.
The ability to see opens up whole new worlds and showed many interesting scenes from a different world. I had a good chuckle over deceiving the seagull.
Wildlife! Gotta love it. I wish I’d had a telephoto lens and a tripod with me to capture the hawks above the cemetery. You would have loved them.
I’m sure I would.
Great photos! San Fran seems like such a cool place. Someday I’ll get there! Love the old cemetery photo’s too. I could walk around an old cemetery for hours. We have one just down the road from us, it’s very small, but has many of the folks in it that have lived in our old place. Pretty neat to walk through!
Cemeteries are terrific spaces, not sad or scary to me at all. Like you, I could spend hours perusing the weathered headstones and listening to the quite. Very soothing.
San Fran, yep, it’s one place I won’t forget anytime soon.
I think that you have discovered why those of us who have moved west, and run out of Continent, choose to live On the Edge.
And I will never forget it. Thanks hardly seems enough, and yet, I want to say again, thank you so very much, Allan, for everything.
It was a joy to meet you and LF. I love to see the bridge through the eyes of my guests and yours were wide open. It is always a reminder to stop and appreciate the grandeur of Northern CA.
I love what you said, “…We witnessed the birth of clouds and discovered where the sun goes to sleep.” Simple, direct and so poetic – I will be thinking about that line this week while I am on graveyard shift and witness to the sun’s awakening.