I love a good challenge and that pretty much sums up why I visited Bolinas, California.
I had no intention of going there when I was visiting the Point Reyes area last weekend. There were a lot of things on my list but paying a visit to a sleepy little town filled with eccentrics wasn’t one of them. But then a couple of people mentioned how much the residents of Bolinas hate outsiders , the way they rip the signs off the main road in so that no one can find it.
Well, that’s all I needed to hear. If they didn’t want me, I was going to be sure to visit. What were they hiding anyway?
I added a visit to Bolinas to our agenda. It wasn’t Brigadoon but it was closer.
My wife, who is my trusty navigator, kept a watch as we approached the dreaded intersection where the town might be. We zipped past two roads with no signs and suddenly a body of water opened up before us. I pulled the car over. “I think that was it,” I said.
I made a U-turn and suddenly our GPS came to life — we were on the right track. The road into Bolinas is magical with tall trees and beautiful landscape on both sides. It didn’t hurt that we were traveling during golden hour and everything looked better. I made sure to mind the speed limit in case an imaginary cop became not so imaginary.
It wasn’t long before we were on what looked like Main Street. I parked and we got out to walk. It was a charming little town with a postage-sized park. There were a few people on the street who looked like tie-dye was their favorite color. We strolled through the grocery with its wooden, well-worn floors and a gift shop filled with voodoo dolls and yoga items. The proprietor did not look up once.
The houses on the water side had big gates in front of them so you could not see inside. It didn’t look like any locals were about, just a few wanderers like us. Everything was tranquil as can be. We wound up on the town beach. It wasn’t much to look at but, again, the light was enchanting and there were a few surfers in the distance. A lone dog wandered around the graffiti-covered cement blocks; why there were there I have no idea.
As we walked back to our car, I began to understand the attraction of living in Bolinas. It seemingly is untouched by the last 40 years — no Starbucks or anything resembling a chain and that’s a good thing. I wanted to know more but the Bolinas Museum was closed for the day (I refer you to this article).
We headed on out, down that same tree-lined road and stopped one more time at a farm stand. The produce looked amazing and payment was based on the honor system. No one was watching. The only two other customers had pulled up on bikes. There was a little barn with paintings made by a local artist. A sign provided a phone number and an email account if you were interested in buying one. I was charmed by the easy pace and trust.
They town fathers may not have wanted me but I was glad at stopped by. And I’d tell you how to get there but why ruin a good thing? Look for the road with no sign.