Op-Ed

An Experienced Park Visitor’s View of Point Reyes

October 3, 2019

For those who are unaware of Point Reyes Station, it is a small town adjacent to Point Reyes National Seashore and the quaint town of Inverness. It’s the type of town that tourists flock to on the weekends and most travelers of Highway 1 venture through as they make their way along the California coast.

 This unassuming town is kept afloat by a small gas station, bank, school house, pharmacy, bookstore, ranches throughout the area, several quaint restaurants, and the tourists who flock through town on their way to the various hiking and camping destinations within the National Seashore area. And while there are controversies looming, it still beckons you back to a time long since past.   

As I sat one Saturday morning watching the flow of the town’s people channel in and out of Bovine Bakery, and cyclists make their way along the town’s streets, I started to notice just how different a setting Point Reyes Station is. Not only are people slowing to speak to one another, but they are intentional in how they move throughout the day. There’s the occasional wave of passerby as they come across their neighbors, or kids who take notice of the firetrucks or the many NPS vehicles that pass through town. All of which make up the community of Point Reyes Station.

Something else I noticed was the behavior of the cyclists as they gathered at the bakery. For one, the bakery seems to be a hub for the town and cyclists. As one group would form for coffee and pastries, they would chat amongst one another for about 20 minutes then be on their way. Within minutes another group of cyclists would appear and repeat the process. I watched this same exchange take place for a couple of hours, smiling at the simplicity of it all. “Days gone by,” is what I thought to myself.

I visit our national park sites throughout the country, and Point Reyes strikes me as different. Although it’s home to a couple thousand people, when I notice the camper homes and out-of-state plates, I can’t help but feel there is a community of wanderers as well. People in transit, “resting in town” momentarily, on their way to find their next adventure. The area lends itself to whimsical adventure, a van-life feel if you will. I don’t see that in other areas of the country I’ve visited on my way to and from various national park sites. I visit Yosemite and the small towns around the area often. And while there are of course visitors from out of town, it’s not the same feel I get when in Point Reyes.

coyotes
Coyotes range throughout Point Reyes National Seashore. (Photo by Teresa Baker)

America has always been home to the adventurers, those who pack up and take flight along our scenic highways, leaving behind a life of strife and for others, an escape from the typical “let me stay in place and build a 9-to-5 life.” Point Reyes Station offers possibilities that some of us long for when we’ve reached our breaking point of traditional living, the ”hop in my van and take to the roads” attitude that can either make you or break you, depending on your gumption for success. And in such a setting as Point Reyes, what defines success can run the gamut.

I’m grateful that such a place exists so close to my home, that offers an escape of sorts, if only for the moment. A place full of wildlife, community and adventure, in the scope of two city blocks. A place that allows me to sit back and take in the culture of farming and environmental protection, from both community and agency.

 My wish for the area is that is stays wild, cultivating and full of possibilities, for those that call it home now and for those who will call it home in the future. 

About the Authors

Teresa is a Bay Area native and nature advocate, fighting for the protection of our open and wild spaces through talks and panel discussion across the country. Her focus over the years has been geared around diversity and inclusion of underrepresented communities within outdoor organizations, brands and environmental agencies. Through her work she hopes to cultivate new stewards of the great outdoors.

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