Going on a -.-. — .– Walk at Pt. Reyes… Plus: Peggy Snuggles up to a Police Horse

The cows had a hungry look in their eyes. We were thankful they were vegetarians.

Peggy and I had decided to revisit an old favorite of ours, the Palomarin Trail that enters Pt. Reyes National Seashore from the south. We had driven down to Bolinas and were on our way out the narrow, pothole-filled road that leads to the trailhead when we saw a series of poles, lined up like they were standing at attention in ranks. I knew immediately what they were. 

The poles were part of the historic Marconi wireless radio station near Bolinas. At one point, they had been connected by wires.

In 1914, decades before the likes of Elon Musk and his techie cohorts started working on worldwide wireless technology, Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the wireless radio, had built a huge, wireless radio station near Bolinas to send Morse Code messages flying across the Pacific Ocean, setting up the first-ever communication system between ships at sea and land. A small parking lot was connected to a walking trail that wound its way past the historic poles and toward the ocean. We were easily diverted from our original intent of hiking the Palomarin Trail.  

The pole-filled field was doing double-duty as a cow pasture and a herd of cattle insisted on checking us out— up close and personal. It was lunch time and they may have thought we were sneaking alfalfa past them. The Morse Code in the title, BTW, spells C -.-. O —, W .–, in case you were wondering. And boy, that takes me back to my Boy Scout days in the 50s when memorizing Morse Code was essential to working your way up through the ranks.

We checked out the poles, talked with the cattle, and had a pleasant walk out to the coast with both Peggy and me taking photos. 

Not quite Mt. Everest, but I was still willing to pose for Peggy. We found large cement blocks throughout the area. At first, I though they might have been part of the coastal fortifications the US built along the Pacific Coast in WW II. Then we decided they were used to anchor the poles and wires. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
A whole herd of cattle was lined up along the road. They remained on the road, not budging as we walked by.
I thought this young fellow munching on grass was quite handsome.
Peggy stopped to admire a lone tree on our walk. The brush had a soft, welcoming look to it. But looks can be deceiving!
It was close to impenetrable.
As we approached the coast, the Pacific Ocean stretched off into the distance. The Farallon Islands can be seen as bumps on the horizon. They were once known at ‘The Devil’s Teeth’ for their ability to rip the bottoms out of sailing ships. In the 1800s, millions of birds’ eggs were taken from the islands to feed San Francisco’s growing population. Today the islands are a designated wilderness area and are part of a marine sanctuary. The birds no longer have to worry about their babies being stolen.
Looking north, we saw some of the towering cliffs found along the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Sir Frances Drake, the renowned English hero and buccaneer (fancy name for pirate), apparently admired these cliffs on his visit to the area in 1579. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Looking south we could see the giant Sutro Tower that dominates the San Francisco skyline. Herb Caen, the well known and beloved columnist of the San Francisco Chronicle, once described the tower as a “giant erector” that was stalking and planning to eat the Golden Gate Bridge. I read Caen religiously when I was growing up. It was back when newspapers still had a sense of humor, before they adopted their Doomsday, Penny Henny view of the world. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Afterwards, we stopped off in Bolinas for lunch. It’s another favorite coastal town of mine. One reason is the fact that the locals refuse to have signs leading into the town from Highway 1 for tourists to follow. Whenever Cal Trans puts one up, it’s torn down. I think that Cal Trans has finally given up. At least I didn’t see any signs. It has always been a fun, quirky town with its own unique cast of characters. Last time when Peggy and I visited with our friends Ken and Leslie Lake, we came on a bookstore without staff. A sign said “Take any book you want and leave whatever you think the book is worth to you in the cash box.” It was a very Bolinas type of thing.

While I’m on Bolinas stories, I’ll mention that it was also the site of my first ‘Hippie’ experience. I’d stopped in the town in 1968/69 and decided to do a little sunbathing on its infamous nude beach, which I had read about in the San Francisco Chronicle. It was a time before Google listed “The Best Nude Beaches in Marin County,” a time when the Protestant ethic still reigned supreme among America’s middle class. I confess I was a little nervous about getting naked, but it was the sunburn that left a lasting memory!

A sign of the times in Bolinas. As we were walking through the town in search of lunch, we came across a car with a ladder on top that included a sign that set me to laughing. I could identify with it.

Having featured cattle today, it is only right that I should feature a horse as well. It’s a requirement of the Old West. The day after our Bolinas walk found Peggy and I hoofing it along the Bear Valley Trail. It connects the Visitor’s Center with the ocean in an 8-mile round trip. We were feeling our oats, so to speak, when we came across a pair of real hoofers, i.e. horses. A woman was walking one and stopped to chat. As it turns out the horses were part of ‘San Francisco’s Finest.’ It was a police horse, a proud member of the mounted patrol that can often be found patrolling Golden Gate Park. They’ve been at it continuously since 1864. The horses were out for a play day on the Bear Valley Trail. 

Peggy, who likes horses, insisted on snuggling up to it and I dutifully snapped a photo on our iPhone. I, on the other hand, am not a horse person. It isn’t their size, their looks, or their personality, all of which I find pleasing. It’s their smell, and the fact that they often leave prodigious piles of poop along hiking trails. Have you ever seen a sign that says “Clean up after your horse?” I’m not sure what it is about their smell, but it clings to you. I wonder if cowgirls and cowboys think of it as perfume? 

Peggy snuggles up with the horse along the Bear Valley trail.

That does it for today. I’ll wrap up our recent visit to Pt. Reyes in my next post. Then it will be off to Fort Bragg and Mendocino.

51 thoughts on “Going on a -.-. — .– Walk at Pt. Reyes… Plus: Peggy Snuggles up to a Police Horse

  1. Spectacular Day you two!! What wonderful photos and a great story. I think you mean “Morse Code.” So you really knew what the Marconi station was but didn’t realize it was there? That is so cool! I really love all those views of the sea. Reminds me of when I lived in California and I miss it.

    • Noted and changes on Morse Code, Crystal. 🙂 Thanks. I knew the station was out there somewhere and had spent time at its twin farther north. I’m surprised I hadn’t noted it before when driving out to the Palomarin Trail. I’m sure I saw it but it didn’t register at the time.

  2. What a pleasant post! 🙂 It kept me smiling throughout. You make Bolinas like the place to be. How great that they are successful at their defence. I thought for a moment that it features in my favourite song to sing, but alas, it’s Salinas. 😀 (I learned it loooong ago off Janis Greatest Hits cassette. I had no idea what she was on about.) As for horses, I much prefer them to bulls (even though I’m a Taurus), and this one you met is gorgeous, as are both photos of you two.

    • Absolutely, Andrew. They could play pirates, capture the Spanish treasure, and become English heroes all at the same time. Hard to beat that. American sailors had a similar thing going during the Revolutionary War. –Curt

    • Actually, Dave, a lot in common with Pt. Lobos, which is another favorite place of ours. Besides, in addition to beautiful oceans scenes, it has Monterey, Carmel, and Big Surprise right next to it! –Curt

  3. Ahhh…, Curt, it is a treat to follow you and Peggy on your trips. You bring so much knowledge and beauty for us to share. The photos you take are all beautiful and fun. Nice also to see you both so smiling and happy looking.
    The cows now, they look a bit suspicious. As to the horse, he is happy and
    snuggle up to Peggy contentedly.


    • Thanks, Miriam. It’s always fun to share. 🙂 Hard not to look happy when enjoying such beautiful areas. And I think you are right: Peggy and the horse seemed to have a mutual admiration society going. –Curt

  4. Making a desperate attempt at catching up on blogging… but that million dollar smile of Peggy and her equine buddy was well worth the scroll!!!
    Wishing you both a merry and happy and healthy holiday!!!! 🎄🎅🏼☃️

    • Laughing, I’ve almost given up on catching up, Gunta. I don’t have the spare month. But keeping more current is a reasonable goal for the New Year!
      Peggy does like horses. Grin. The very best to you this Holiday season as well. –Curt

  5. Loved the story about Bolinas – the whole thing cracked me up. I think horses are gorgeous, but I am somewhat afraid of em – summer camp, 6th grade – bad memories. I also resent their poop on hiking trails. lol

  6. When I got my HAM license, Morse Code still was required. I learned it by listening to tapes while I worked out on the docks. I never was proficient, but I got up to about fifteen words per minute, which was somewhat above the minimum. I think eight was the bottom line. It was great fun, really. People turn their noses up at HAM operators, and it’s true that some of them can be a little — quirky — but in an emergency, they’re invaluable.

    That antennae field reminded me of the LORAN-C station out by ELWA in Monrovia. When I started sailing, LORAN was state of the art tech. In fact, we used it in conjunction with plotting when we sailed from Hawaii to Alaska. I wish I’d kept my old Furuno unit — even though they’re no longer useful, ones in good condition are selling for around $400.

    If your horse knows where the barn is, you don’t need such things.

  7. Clever use of Morse code in the title Curt. That has to be a blogging first. I must admit being clueless. I’ve read Erik Larson’s excellent book about Marconi (Thunderstruck), but honestly didn’t get a feel for how large the antenna array had to be until seeing your photo. I’m sure Marconi is turning in his grave seeing all those cow patties around his wireless station. All this wireless business must have seemed like so much juju at the time.

    All the best to you and Peggy for a happy and healthy 2022. ~James

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