This weekend, our good friend Ellen stopped in for a whirlwind visit on her way back to Boston to see her family. Have a look at her blog for a glimpse of her work and life up in BC. I got to live with Ellen and my friend Sam up in Ithaca a few years back, and it was a really wonderful time. Well. Turns out she brings us good luck, because the day before she arrived, we won the Marin County lottery, in a manner of speaking. That is, our friend Elise called to ask if we might be interested in spending Saturday night in one of the cabins at Steep Ravine, which is right on the coast near Stinson Beach.
This might not sound earth shattering, but around here, Steep Ravine, and the cabins particularly, are legendary. Built in the 1930s, they were originally privately owned and leased out for beach holidays. Dorothea Lange used to go there with her family and took a few photographs around the cottages. They were pretty good. Years later the cottages became part of the state park system, and now you can reserve a cabin or tent camping site at Steep Ravine if you get online or on the phone bright and early on January 2, when they open reservations for the year. The cabins book out for the whole season (weekdays and weekends) in the blink of an eye, so it’s an unbelievable opportunity to get to go.
We stopped in at the Safeway to pick up some provisions (marshmallows) and were chatting with Curtis about the weekend. When he heard where we were headed, he just started saying, “Aw, MAN! Aw, MAN!” He grew up around here and said he’d wanted to go to Steep Ravine since he was in high school.
Pity it’s not that beautiful a setting, eh?
Here are some shots coming back up from the beach:
The cottages themselves are rustic – solid wood worn soft and smooth with use. The main room of our cottage had a wood stove, a table with two benches and a sleeping platform tucked into an alcove. There was a narrow bedroom with platform bunk beds opposite a small closet, and then one bedroom with two sleeping platforms. Simple but pretty luxurious for a camping overnight!
Stinson often gets foggy and cold at night but Saturday was clear and calm – very lucky weather. The kids were actually hoping for it to get colder so we could light up the wood stove and get the marshmallows going!
It was a stunning night. Mainly I couldn’t stop staring at the beauty around me – I felt like we’d stepped into a storybook.
On Sunday afternoon, we took Ellen to the California Academy of Sciences since she’s a museum geek, and we wanted to show her all the cool things they’d been working on there. It was a bit of a whirlwind, since there’s so much to see, but the museum didn’t disappoint.
Here she is checking out the fish. I love the ethereal light around those big tanks.
We also got to see the craziest darn thing I’ve seen in a long while. We walked towards this round tank in the center of one of the rooms in the aquarium, and it looked like there were a bunch of branches floating around in the water.
When we took a closer look we discovered they were ALIVE. They had heads that resembled sea horses, but their bodies looked like twigs with random branches and leaves sticking out. They’re called Leafy Sea Dragons, and they’re completely nuts.
Hold onto your hats, people. Here’s a photo from the Academy’s online gallery…
Now I’m not trying to lift their photography – we were not allowed to take our own pictures because the sea dragons are very sensitive and have aggressive agents. So please go straight away to the California Academy of Science site to see the other photos in the proper size and context. They’re fantastic.
All in all, it was a terrific weekend. Thanks, Ellen!