Point Reyes Station, CA

An adventurous day on the high seas (of Tomales Bay)

Clay Kallam

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If you look closely, you can see a whitecap.(Ariel Black)

So there we were, riding the high seas, gazing at the whitecaps. I was in the back of the double kayak, legs swathed in sunblock, dodging spray from Maggi’s paddles in front.

Suddenly we heard a cry for help, and intrepid mariners that we are, we quickly altered course. A solo sailor had a fouled anchor and needed assistance, and of course we responded. Battling wind and tide, we pulled alongside, and after some tense struggles – “Do these jellyfish sting?” – the problem was solved.

Buoyed by our successful intervention, we headed back to the beach, dodging a young boy in an inflatable boat and slid into a narrow slot between two other kayaks. We leapt onto the sand …

Well OK, we didn’t exactly leap. In fact, we needed some help from the Blue Water Kayaking guy to get upright without getting on our hands and knees in the water.

And well, the high seas were really Tomales Bay – but we did see one or two whitecaps when the wind picked up.

The rescue? It happened, but the fact that the woman who called for help was in four feet of water and basically only needed us to hold the boat while she waded out to get the anchor did rob the moment of a little drama.

And no, the cute white jellyfish don’t sting.

But we’ve made the long trek from Walnut Creek to Heart’s Desire Beach on Point Reyes before, and we’ve rented kayaks from the very friendly and help Blue Water folks before, and even on a perfectly calm Tomales Bay, without a rescue, kayaking is worth the investment of time and energy. Of course, let me make it crystal clear that we’re not “kayakers” in the sense that we’re going to head out into the open ocean or battle rapids in a Sierra river. We just paddle along, enjoying the sun and the water and, especially on this very hot weekend, the cool breeze off the Pacific.

And once done, faithful readers will not be surprised to learn that food and drink were soon to follow. We thought about going to the Saltwater Oyster Depot in Inverness, which was recommended to us, but the lines were long and parking was chancy, so we headed into Point Reyes Station, a tourist destination that retains a lot of the local charm of West Marin. For example, after we spent about 20 seconds looking for a parking place, we got back to the main street and there was a young woman beating a tambourine and chanting in what appeared to be Native American style. She and a companion were selling sacred rocks, it appeared – I didn’t want to interrupt her flow – and were just part of Point Reyes Station combination of boho and expensive art.

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They tasted even better than they looked.(Ariel Black)

After noting that the market for rocks was not that brisk, we headed for Café Reyes for a baker’s dozen of Tomales Bay oysters and a glass of wine. The oysters were incredibly fresh and completely delicious, and even though the little town was packed with people, a table was immediately available.

With the appetizer out of the way, the wine and exercise leading to a pleasant languor, we headed to the Station House Inn, a long-time favorite of ours, and a focal point for Point Reyes. We did have to wait a while for a table to open up, but once settled, it was smooth sailing. The clams in my linguine were, like the oysters, incredibly fresh and tasty, and Maggi’s flank steak salad featured both local beef and very fresh produce.

One reason we’ve always liked the Station House is because of its excellent desserts, and this visit was no exception. Though Maggi’s lemon pot de crème was scrumptious, my strawberry shortcake was just heavenly.

A post-prandial stroll that included a stop at Point Reyes Books (with a very nice philosophy section) capped off a perfectly wonderful day. After all, how often do you get to perform a high seas rescue and savor superfresh seafood in the same afternoon?

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Clay Kallam is a lifelong East Bay resident who spent several decades in local journalism -- and still writes for Diablo Magazine (among others). Over the years, he has covered just about every aspect of life in the Bay Area, from rock-and-roll to the arts to political coverage to food to sports. On the food front, he does not claim to be a critic, but rather someone who enjoys a good meal, a well-made drink and a nice red wine. As for sports, he has written for national publications (including Sports Illustrated and Slam) and covers girls' basketball across the nation for MaxPreps. He is a high school coach and a serious fan of the local teams -- and savored every minute of the Giants' and Warriors' championships. He graduated from Acalanes, UC Santa Barbara (ancient history) and Cal (philosophy). He lives in Walnut Creek with his wife Maggi, who takes many of the food photos. He appreciates his readers and is always happy to talk about anything he's written. His food experiences can be found at #dishdining on Instagram, and emails can be sent to claykallam@gmail.com.

Walnut Creek, CA
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