Thursday, August 2, 2018

A visit to Muir Woods National Monument 

My aunt was visiting from Maryland, and I took a day off to show her Muir Woods. 

All these years in the Bay Area I have never been here, so decided it will be something new we both could try out

I dropped off Pranav and started off to Palo Alto, to pick her up from my cousin’s place. The funny part here is, when you put my cousin’s home address in Google maps, it always defaults to Palo Alto, and not Menlo Park. So once I reached Palo Alto, I realized this is not the place and asked my cousin to send me the exact location. He whatsapped me the link, and it was showing directions for walking, and I decided to follow that. It was taking me all over place and expecting me to walk via trails. Also one road was under construction and it was making me go in loops. 

After a frustrating 30 mins, I called my cousin who tried sending me a different link. Also meanwhile, I figured out how to change the directions to car mode, it was simple, just that it was not coming to me during that stressful half hour. The actual home was only about a mile away and I finally reached there around 11. 

My aunt was already out and waiting and we started off to Muir Woods. Half way through, we stopped for gas and resumed again. 

On reaching Muir Woods after an hour and a half, we realized that we needed a reservation to park there! I was a fool! I was so confident that it’s a weekday and never even realized a state park would require prior reservations to park. The additional parking was also full, and there was no service there, so we can’t even reserve on online at that moment. 

This was one big learning, but I think it did turn out the day into an adventure from here on. So anyone going to Muir Woods please go to and get your reservation. 

So we drove aimlessly for around 3 miles and saw the Pelican Inn. We also heard there is a beach around here. We entered the Pelican Inn, and was totally unimpressed. Their kitchen was under renovation and they just had some cold salads and bread etc. we had a pretty sad meal, of cheese, greens, bread and a decent mango chutney. 

My aunt had this brainwave that we will just walk the 3-4 miles to Muir Woods and can park the car in the Inn. Since it was just the two of us, and no kids, I thought it was doable. 

I also met a nice person in the Inn, and on enquiring he told me, a better idea would be to go park in Muir beach, and then take trail up the hill there, enjoy views and if wanted walk the long way back to Nuir Woods.

We decided we will give it a try. So we drove to Muir beach and parked our car there. We then walked up to the beach and also half way up the kaashi loop trail. 

The beach and the scenery was very beautiful. From there, we came down and decided to take the trail to Muir Woods. Google maps told the walking trail was about 4 miles. And it also told us an hour and half of just walking to reach there. We took the trail and kept walking. We were the only ones on the trail. We did find two people walking the other way, after maybe an eternity. But we kept walking. 

Some portions of the trail was a wee bit scary and weird because it goes through the denser vegetation, and we had no idea what kinda animal might be around. Snakes was something I was a bit worried about. 

After about 2 miles of walking, we also entered the road and we tried getting a ride from someone. We have never done this before, and was little hesitant to try too. Finally we saw a lady in a car parked. And we thought we will ask her. Her name was Penny and she was in a worse situation than us. She dropped off her family at Muir Woods and she drove down, but the key to her car was with her brother in law. So she can’t start the car now, or even contact them as there was no signal. 

So she also joined us and after we walked a bit down, maybe .75 miles away from the front, we found an Asian couple getting into their car. Once asked, he agreed to drop us. We got it and they dropped us at the entrance and we went to the visitor center. 

I got the tickets there, while Penny used the landline there to leave a message for her son. She said she is going to wait at the entrance to meet them. We told bye to Penny and we started our walk inside the woods.

We first stopped at the cafe and got some hot chocolate and croissant to have and bought water too. 

We walked inside the woods for about an hour and clicked various pics of the gigantic trees

Around 4 pm, we went back to the gift shop, got souvenirs and went to the visitor center to call a cab. 

We got through one cab company and they said they will be there anytime. We went to the entrance and the time was around 4:40 or so. So we waited.

There were couple of taxis that came in, for other folks but none for us. After about 30 minutes, I went back to the visitor center and called the cab again. And he said they will be there in 15 mins. 

We waited again until about 5:40, and I went inside the visitor center again and called Sree to book an uber. I should have done this the first place. 

Then, the park official there said, he will drop us, at Muir Beach. So if the cab did not come, we had a plan. Just then the cab arrived and we drove the 4 miles back to Muir Beach. 

We payed the $45 for the cab( yup it’s expensive, they came from Sausalito). And we were happy to get into our car. 

The drive back was uneventful. We just talked and then drove back to Menlo Park, ofcourse the address had to be retyped to go to the right apartment. 

My aunt was tired and ready to have her food and rest! For me, I came back, spent some time with the kids and slept like a log!