Whenever I drive north across San Francisco's most iconic landmark, I always chance a quick peek over my shoulder to glimpse the misty city skyline, perfect as a postcard in any weather. I love San Francisco and its urban splendor, but once I hit the familiar "Marin County" sign, the point that separates the city from its suburban neighbor (my home turf) everything looks different. On the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge, the traffic is lighter, the fog melts away, and the temperature rises as the sun comes out from behind the clouds.
Spring has sprung, and at Audubon Canyon Ranch near Stinson Beach, that means the 100 pairs of great egrets and great blue herons which nest there are starting to mate and lay eggs. It also means the wildlife preserve is opening to the public for their visiting season, March 20 - July 11.
If you don't think you can face another holiday weekend in a crowded shopping mall… then don't. Treat yourself to a more meaningful gift than a new toy: a day of wildlife watching in the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore.
Hunted to the brink of extinction at the turn of the 20th century, the northern elephant seal has made a strong comeback in the past 100 years, thanks in part to both government restrictions on hunting and their own secluded, deep-sea lifestyle. For just a few months each year, these unique creatures come ashore, returning to various spots along the California coast to compete, mate, and give birth.