Heading Down the Coast for a Night at Montara Lighthouse


On Friday, J. and I met V. for dinner and iPad discussion at Betelnut Restaurant on Union. Afterward, we enjoyed massive frozen yogurts and a walk to the Chestnut Apple Store. They were sold out of all but the most expensive iPads, a story told all over town.

Left wondering what to do, we decided to take the “crazy bus” (AKA, Line 22) back to Alamo Square and pick up a Zipcar. J. and I had booked the car for a weekend trip. Since we had it for the evening, we decided to drive to Treasure Island to see what the city looked like at night.

The Bay Bridge at night as seen from Treasure Island.

The Ferry Building and the rest of downtown seen across the water.

Three enormous dog busts outside a warehouse.

The view from Treasure Island was wonderful.

We drove around the abandoned neighborhoods and industrial zones, looking around for the impending zombie swarms. But we only spotted cats as we passed by mysterious, peeling barracks and a facility marked as a “Genetic Reclamation Zone”. The dark streets that dead-ended at the water looked like prime drug dealing spots.

Yerba Buena Island, the original hill to which Treasure Island was attached, consisted of a twisting network of roads that lead to construction equipment, modest apartments with amazing views of the city, raccoons in garbage cans, and a few mystery facilities.

I want to go back during the day and explore this weird hill and patch of landfill in the middle of the bay.


Saturday, we headed south along the Pacific Coast Highway 1. The sky was overcast and misty, but free from rain.

Our first stop was Pacifica, a fairly large and ugly town along 6 miles of coast. Salty fisherman crowded a long, L-shaped pier and casted their lines into the grey, stormy surf. All were trying to bring in Dungeness Crab using a bait box of fish parts wrapped in loops of fishing line. The pier was windy, and J was wearing a skirt. She remained decent, but was a spectacle. Luckily, the fisherman seemed happy to talk crab with her. They were allotted ten crab per day, both a nice chunk of cash or a feast depending on their plans.

Garden behind the gate.

Pink house.

Art car covered in aluminum spinners.

Crab fishing off Pacifica’s municipal pier.

The waves of Pacifica.

Crab bait includes all sorts of weird cuts of seafood.

A man measuring his dungeness crab.


More fishermen.

A surfer among many others at Pacifica State Beach.


We were going to spend the night at Montara Lighthouse not far from Pacifica. Since we had the whole day ahead of us, we continued driving south, past Half Moon Bay to Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

Coastline with abandoned building at top right.


Artichokes growing along the coast.

Keep out of this abandoned barn.

Hills and mist.

Sea foam.

Numerous seals were fishing in a rocky beach along the highway near Pescadero Marsh.

Yellow wild flowers at the turn off to Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse.


Gate to the ocean.


Wild blooming cabbage.

J. at the observation platform above the water.

On the way back to Montara, we stopped for a snack of fresh baked bread and salami in the small town of Pescadero. Lots of cyclists were passing through the town and along the backroads. We decided to do the same. Our route took us through small farms, along streams, a dense forest, and atop a ridge road.

Ginger the cow.

Little lane between eucalyptus.


More sheep.

Goat caught eating grass.

Old general store.

Rolling hills with grazing cattle.

Old barn with hole in roof.

Fake spiders guard the gate to machine shop.

Banana slug.


Another view.

Indyne‎ Radar station.

In the afternoon, we checked into a private room at the Montara Lighthouse Youth Hostel. The hostel had only four private rooms, but they were right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the water. Our room cost around $70 a night, shared bath. The hostel had a group of girl scouts in the main building, so we avoided the communal area except for when J. kept making me look at board games right next the the giggling bedroom doors that would slam shut on our approach.

Montara Lighthouse.

Floats on a fence.


Barnacles and a starfish.

The view out our bedroom window.

Making circles in the sand with driftwood and seaweed rope.

For dinner, we went to Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay. It was likely the most lively place in town: crowds, live music, big staff. We ate an unhealthy amount of food.

The day had worn us out. We went to bed early to the sounds of the ocean outside our small window.


Rain! It was time to head home to the rat-a-tat of broken dreams. We decided to head back into town in time for breakfast. We settled on the wonderfully located, but average diner food of Louis’ Restaurant. The two drunk men in the booth behind us were talking loudly, but luckily skipped out on their bill before our food came.

Breakfast Louis’ Restaurant overlooking the Sutro Bath ruins.

The weekend weather had worn me out. Despite having hours left on the car, I came home to rest. It just didn’t make sense to explore in the rain. It was nice to spend some time along the coast. Had the weather cooperated, the weekend would have been even better.

Archives for April, 2010
April 11th, 2010. Categories / San Francisco

News Menu

About Categories Archives