Over the weekend, the rainy, rainy, weekend, Michele and I went to Point Reyes National Seashore with Richard and Tracy and Gina and Courtney. The timing worked perfectly. It only rained at night, the weather during the day was just turbulent enough to be interesting, and it was much warmer and comfortable than it photographed. The best of all possible worlds. On Saturday afternoon, we into the Park and followed a small stream down to McClures Beach where the storm driven waves put on a show for us.
I love Point Reyes: the connection with Nature, the feeling of edge-of-the-world desolation. Like Death Valley or the Sierra Nevada mountains above timberline, it is a huge landscape – with almost infinite sight-lines – that work best for me when I am out in it; walking.
More years ago than I can remember, I read that the National Park Service was trying to incorporate some – for lack of a better descriptor – normal landscapes into the system. We think of the National Parks as saving the most spectacular parts of America, but, in reality, most of the National Parks are extreme areas because they are the areas that were left over. There are no National Parks in the Great Central Valley of California because it was filled with farms – very productive farms – pretty early in the western settlement cycle. (In May of 2010, on our way back from Death Valley National Park, we stopped at a small pocket of wilderness – Kern National Wildlife Refuge – that the Feds had reclaimed from the San Joaquin part of the Central Valley. It was spectacular – teaming with wildlife, mostly with birds laying over on their North-South migration – and a revelation. We consider the Central Valley the boring part of our trip when we go to the mountains or the desert and this little section of wild land was every bit as exciting as any National Park.)
Point Reyes is, in a way, reclaimed land but it was also only minimally used before it became a park. Yes, there were and still are farms, but they were always sort of hanging on farms with picturesque barns rather than rich working farms with industrial silos.
The barns seem more a part of Nature, a part of the Landscape, rather than cut off from it and, as the National Park Service lets more land revert to Wildness, the Wildness is taking center stage. With its walks and its views, with its openness and hidden intimacy, with its National Parkness, Point Reyes National Seashore has become a place to connect with Nature.