Tomales Bay

Name: Tomales Bay

Location: 5479 Shoreline Hwy, Marshall, CA 94940

Website: http://www.tomalesbayoystercompany.com

I’ve heard people wax poetic about the oyster farms north of San Francisco enough times to finally go myself. From home base, it’s a two hour drive to get there and requires waking up at the crack of dawn. The first stretch of the drive is the basic California freeway system, paved roads and concrete walls leading the way.

Once you’ve entered Marin county, however, it’s like being transported into a New England port town without leaving the state of California. If you make all the right turns, the road leads you to a quaint downtown where antique dealers and locally run shops rule. But the road to Tomales Bay is far from idyllic itself; the twists and turns along the way are enough to churn even the strongest stomachs.

It’s all worth it, however, once you reach Tomales Bay.

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The oyster farm is, as indicated by the name, situated on a bay. Picnic tables are scattered throughout and arriving early is highly recommended. Tomales Bay opens at 9am and closes by 5pm daily. While it may seem like a long time, you can pass a day there in a blink of an eye.

They don’t sell very much other than oysters, clams, mussels, and some accompaniments so it’s necessary to bring anything and everything else you’re going to need. This includes all the cookware, utensils, and other food you’ll need for the day. Luckily, other picnickers are usually nice enough to loan or barter for items if you forget something.

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Oyster shucking isn’t as intimidating as it looks, thankfully. After some initial hesitations, everyone was an expert by the end of the day.

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A small charcoal grill sits by each table and on windy days, it may take a few attempts to get the fire going. Cooking can take up a long part of the day depending on what you bring. On this trip, we brought potatoes and corn to go along with the oysters and clams. Other seasoned groups brought meat to grill, pasta, and soup!
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Maybe it’s part pride from shucking it myself, but these were easily the best oysters I’ve had. The whole trip overall was worth the trek and all the preparation in advance. I’d go back again in a heartbeat.

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Mount Woodson Trial, Poway, CA

Name: Mount Woodson (Potato Chip) Trial

Location: 14644 Lake Poway Rd, Poway, CA 92074

Website:  http://www.yelp.com/biz/mount-woodson-trail-poway

A little while back, after much badgering, I finally decided to take the baby and drive down to San Diego and visit Tams. On the to do list, asides from indulging in all the good eats San Diego has to offer, was to conquer the Potato Chip.

Potato Chip Trail Sign

 

Though officially called the Mount Woodson Trial, the route is commonly known as the Potato Chip hike due to the nature of it’s landmark. Like any trail, there are lots of different start and end points so do your research beforehand. I can’t say exactly at which point on the trail we began our hike, but used a sign along the highway as our starting point.

Our path was reminiscent of grandpa’s old school stories. It was steep all the way, with little relief. Bringing lots of water and getting an early start is highly recommended as shade is scare on the trail. If geocaching is your thing, the trail is overflowing with nooks and crannies for treasure hunting.

Photo Credit: vernonavenue.com

The uphill battle took about an hour until we reached our destination. Fortunately the line wasn’t too long for a photo op at the Potato Chip. To get to the ledge itself requires a bit of athleticism, but there weren’t too many people to back down from it challenge. Fellow hikers are more than willing to assist those in front and behind them so everyone can get a chance to enjoy the view.

Potato Chip

After the savoring victory, we turned around and headed back down. However, the total trail is much longer and more scenic than just the Potato Chip ledge. In total, the entire trail is about 8 miles, with a lake and panoramic views of San Diego along the way, so we only experienced a short portion of it. If not for our rumbling bellies we may have attempted the full hike, but decided to save it for another day.

 

 

 

 

 

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Due to it’s key location in the Baltic, Estonia was considered a gateway between eastern and western Europe. As such, the small nation was subject to multiple conquests throughout history. Because of this, the country as we know it today is relatively young, declaring independence in 1991.

 

What I Saw

Old Town

Old Town View

Old Town is a gem within Tallinn. It’s a medieval fortress mixed with modern conveniences. Buildings have generally been renovated to maintain the old timey style, but it’s also hard to ignore the McDonald’s at the street corner. There’s a lot to see and do within the fortress walls. Churches, museums, shops and restaurants are scattered throughout. Join a tour or read up in a guidebook for all the interesting facts throughout. In such a historic place, even the small chink in the wall could have an interesting story.

Future Destinations

Revisiting Old Town. There’s so much to explore within Old Town that to do it properly, at least a full day is required. Ferries to and from neighboring countries are available.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki Cathedral

Hosts to 1952 Olympic Games, Helsinki offers the same charm as it’s nordic cousins. More popular tourist destinations tend to be newer (think 20th century) but that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t have it’s fair share of historical sites.

What I Saw

Rock Church

Rock Church

Officially known as Temppeliaukio Church, this Lutheran church was completed in 1969. Built into the rock, the design of this church was selected by competition in the early 1960’s. The original design featured a larger space, but the interior was scaled back due to budget constraints. In addition to being a popular tourist destination, the church is also famous for its acoustics (which is a byproduct of the exposed rock walls). Concerts are held here on a regular basis.

Sibelius Monument

Sibelius Monument

Dedicated to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, this monument is a popular tourist destination due to it’s unique design. Like the Rock Church, the design of the monument was determined via competition. The likeness of Sibelius was included as an afterthought when critics complained that the sculpture was too avant-garde. Myth has it that the wind sings as it flows through the pipes of the monument, but it’s nearly impossible to hear with all the tourists providing background noise.

Future Destinations

  • Arctic Ice Bar: Located a short distance from Helsinki is a bar made entirely out of ice. Everything from the bar, stools, and even cups are fashioned out of ice. Even though I’m not a big drinker, it seems worth the trip just for the experience.
  • Saunas: There’s an average of one sauna per household in Finland so it’s fitting that visiting one should be on the travel agenda.