For the first time, J and I didn’t travel anywhere for Christmas. Instead, we convinced my family to come out and stay for a week in Stinson Beach, California.
The house was rented at great expense two months prior. J worked frantically on the final quilting of a gift quilt. She also made five stockings. My stocking was made with fabric from my favorite undershirt that was ruined by iron burns from a sloppy wash and fold.
My sister arrived on my birthday, and we celebrated by shopping in Japan Town, doing flips* for an hour at a trampoline park, and eating a fancy Moroccan-inspired dinner.
It was dark on the drive to Stinson Beach, making the road even slower and windier with none of the visual payoffs. I felt bad my sister was missing the view, but from the driver’s seat I was treated to a real version of Lost Highway’s opening titles.
A small lockbox contained the keys. A wooden beam swung open to unlock the front gate. We entered the house, took off our shoes, and admired the new hardwood floors that the owners seemed paranoid about.
That morning, we went for a walk to the inlet of Bolinas Lagoon and locked ourselves out of the house.
Perfectly illuminated by the morning sun, these orchids may be the key to opening a secret tomb.
Port hole door.
Little bits of foam.
Two small squid.
A log stew.
Tall yellow grasses.
A motorhome decal.
A needlessly big and fancy sink.
The awesome roof deck.
Vapor trail at sunset.
My father arrived via ferry in Sausalito, and I picked him up. We were able to enjoy the view as I took the curves with gusto.
That evening, we met the smoke monster. He seeped in from any open window, making it necessary to keep the windows closed at night.
A cloudless sky and warm weather kicked off Christmas. It was a California Christmas, like something the kids in my autographed Saved By The Bell picture would celebrate.
That evening, two of J’s friends arrived. We ate a belated birthday dinner with enchiladas and apple crumble. Afterwards, I sneakily won a game of Catan.
A glittery puzzle.
Thanks sister and Dennis Haskins!
The hot tub.
Fifty shades of grey.
Mother and daughter.
The recipients of a J-made quilt.
Our custom robber for Catan, Confuscus.
After a hike in Muir woods, we drove up the coast for a fresh, though pricey, lunch at the Marshall Store.
If you liked it then you should have counted some rings on it.
The high road.
Father in tree vagina.
An empty path.
A secret spot.
A view of the city from the high road back to Stinson.
Stinson and Bolinas.
A rack of bucks.
I tested the brown salt like. Tasted salty.
On Friday, all the ladies went into the city for some reason. They missed an awesome sunset.
On Saturday, we went an visited a friend of the family who lived in a gypsy wagon in Bolinas. He lived in a relaxing plot reached by dirt road. Monarch butterflies seemed to like it.
A secret path led to the beach.
Someone planted a bike.
Above the bed.
Looking back towards the wagon.
Tide pool heaven.
The secret trail.
We met my uncle for lunch in Muir Beach, then came back to enjoy one last afternoon in the house. B taught us how to play a fun card game called Ninety-Nine. I wonder if Jay Z would like it.
We checked out on Sunday morning. As we pulled away, the cleaning crew pulled in. A look of concentration was on their faces, no doubt they were getting ready to find sand in the darndest places.
New Year’s Eve Addendum
On New Year’s Eve, J and I took a cold, dark scooter ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to meet A and D for a seafood dinner in Sausalito.
Our hostess was salty, but our waiter was sweet. Both were surprisingly old and looked like they could have been characters in a David Lynch movie.**
A and I both had the same encrusted swordfish, drizzled with shrimp. J had a lackluster surf and turf platter, while D had fish over easy.
After dinner, we piled in the car and drove up Conzelman Road into the headlands. A lot of other people had the same idea, and cars crowded the parking lots overlooking the city. A large amount of police were up there, I suspect to bust people for drinking and enjoying other potent items.
We kept driving and parked at the trailhead to the Point Bonita Lighthouse. We were alone.
Our eyes adjusted to the dark as we descended the trail. The city lights glittered to our left; the ocean crashed to our right. The land narrowed, and the high crossing seemed the perfect place for Piggy to get smashed by a boulder.
A heavy metal door blocked entry into the tunnel through sea lion rock. Two square holes let the bravest of us look inside.
Surreal even in the daylight, the landscape seemed even stranger at night.
We drove to Fort Cronkhite, saw either coyote or chupacabra, and walked along the gravely beach. Along another road, we saw a real whale skeleton about the size of a bus. A deer was standing near it.
As midnight approached, we drove to Fort Baker for a closer view of the city. We wanted to warm up at the heated outdoor seating of a fancy hotel, but a headless figure in a pile of blankets watching an Apple laptop creeped me out.
We watched the midnight fireworks from the edge of a boat ramp. Fireworks seem more complicated than I remember.
But I’m getting old and my memory is hazy.
* After two years of not trampolining, I did well. I could still do backflips and forward flips, but I ended up face-planting on a forward one.
** Two David Lynch references in one post? That must be a new record.