Unknown California

Unknown California

Muir Beach is a fishing village near San Francisco's Golden Gate. Today we will drive to the Pacific Ocean, where Sir Francis Drake landed on his Pelican 400 years ago to stake California for Queen Elizabeth II and her descendants.

At thirty kilometers north of San Francisco along the famous first highway, which winds along the entire Pacific coast of California, past nudist beaches, over the Golden Gate Bridge and through the mountains along a serpentine, the village of Muir Beach clings to the coastal cliffs. It may have once been inhabited by fishermen, but now it is a haven for surfers and wildlife lovers.

Unknown California

There are no schools, no shops, not even regular buildings. The houses climb a steep hill above the ocean, none alike, and the streets are named after characters from Moby Dick. Despite the apparent poverty, this is one of the most expensive suburbs of San Francisco, beloved by artists and entertainers. Recently, George Lucas, creator of the famous Star Wars epic, donated a fire engine to the village.

Under the hill is a wild beach, almost the only place in the vicinity of the metropolis, or maybe , and throughout California where fires are free.

In the rocks under the village itself, at low tide, you can find starfish, mollusks, anemones and other living creatures, and to the south of the village, the Golden Gate Reserve stretches for many kilometers, riddled with picturesque hiking trails. From high cliffs, you can watch the flights of pelicans and birds of prey, admire the sunset over the ocean, and watch the endless container ships stretch west to China.

The only hotel in Muir Beach, the Pelican Inn is an old stone house with white ivy-covered walls that faithfully recreates the atmosphere of a 16th century English mansion. The restaurant serves traditional English dishes adapted for healthy eaters. Would you like to try Shepherd's Pie or Wellington Beef? How about fresh scented ale from local breweries? Then this is the place for you.

Unknown California

But if for some reason you did not manage to stay at the hotel, do not despair, you can still spend an unforgettable few days, settling in the village itself. You can rent an apartment or cottage, however, in this case you will have to stock up on food.

We rented an ocean-view floor from an old Israeli midwife, in a lively old house with a unique face and character: everything is lined with figurines, hung with paintings and draperies — something Buddhist, something about pregnancy and childbirth. There are many beautiful women in the photographs, comfortable furniture in a slightly oriental style, a Buddhist xylophone, a huge ball, old children's toys. On the creaky terrace — comfortable wooden chairs with cushions, the site goes down a steep slope, on which a summer house, a sandbox, a jacuzzi and another small terrace are nestled right above the cliff. And all around is absolute silence, except for the surf and the hum of the lighthouses at the Golden Gate.

For seekers of enlightenment, those who are accustomed to taking care of the soul and body, Muir Beach hides another gem. Not far from the village, in a gorge overgrown with huge eucalyptus trees, the Zen Center hides from the bustle of the metropolis, offering courses in Zen Buddhism and meditation, as well as a number of related disciplines, for example, the Japanese tea ceremony and ikebana. The center has its own guest house where students live, but you can stay like in a hotel, a Buddhist monastery, a Japanese garden and a farm where monks grow organic products. You can also learn healthy agricultural practices there.

Unknown California

And if you drive five minutes east from the village along a narrow country road, you will reach the national treasure of the Americans, the famous Redwood Forest, which is called Muir Woods in guidebooks. This is a gorge in the fold of the coastal mountains, overgrown with thousand-year-old redwoods. Redwoods are close relatives of the sequoia, they are a little thinner (three or four meters, and not more than ten in diameter), but much higher, reaching more than a hundred meters. In the relic forest, you can see the original “witch circles” of redwoods that occur when the progenitor tree died more than a thousand years ago, and its root growth turned into a ring of huge trees. The diameter of such rings can be up to ten meters.

Redwood Forest is a real pilgrimage site for Americans and foreign tourists, so it's best to visit it on weekdays or come by bus.

During the weekend, you may find yourself walking all the way from Muir Beach.

Perhaps of interest to George Lucas These places are not accidental: the Redwoods also left a mark on the history of the Star Wars epic. In a similar reserve, located much north of San Francisco, parts of the third series of the original Return of the Jedi cycle were filmed, episodes in a relic forest with bear-like natives.