Changing the Plan
My friend Maureen came to visit last week. She lives in the southwest of England and had never been to the United States. She attended a conference in San Francisco and tacked on a few extra days to play. She explored the city pretty extensively, with me and on her own. Friday was a beautiful day and I was determined to show Maureen the sights. Lots of sights. We’d start with Muir Woods, head to the beach, drive over to the Marin headlands, maybe get to Pt. Bonita lighthouse, and end up in Sausalito. Check, check, check.
The day started as scheduled. Muir Woods really is a special place well worth a visit. And Muir Beach is a little hidden gem if ever there was one. We were seeing the sights and getting it done. Then we drove past the Pelican Inn and saw the scene above. It looked idyllic.
“Here’s the thing,” I said to Maureen. We had been enjoying a string of unseasonably gorgeous days, so she had no appreciation of how rare and precious warm blue-sky days are by the coast. “I’m happy to stick to the plan. Or we can stop here for a while and just enjoy a cup of tea on the lawn.” She agreed that was a no-brainer. I knew I liked her.
For the next hour or more (I lost track of time) we sat in the sun, talked and laughed, sipped our tea, and watched people come and go. In that time we magically recalibrated from go-go-going sightseers to two friends having a lovely day together. It’s like we took HAVE FUN (DAMMIT) off our to-do list. What a concept!
We opened ourselves up to discovery and noticed what was right across the street.
Behind this colorful row of mailboxes (the longest in Northern California, I can now tell you) lies a bit of California history that was completely new to me. The big barn and the other wooden outbuildings are the remnants of what was once the largest dairy serving the San Francisco area.
The property is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and home to the Golden Gate Dairy Stables, operated by Ocean Riders of Marin. Don’t you just love that name? One of the horse owners invited us to wander around. Even with permission, it felt like we were getting away with something. This blond horse, in particular, seemed like an enchanted creature. I kept looking for the unicorn horn.
We explored, and lingered, and talked to the horses. We had an unexpected adventure, with no thought of the time or the next item on our itinerary.
It all began when we surrendered to the delights of a nice cup of tea.