Indian Summer at Tom’s Point with Michael – 5 November 2012

Saints be praised. You’ll recall that there was some police action when we were gathering across from Diekmann’s in Tomales on Monday. The IJ today has it covered in today’s edition: I enjoyed the addition of support aircraft.


Michael was able to open some gates for the group figuratively and literally at the Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Tom’s Point Preserve this past Monday. We had a rare opportunity to explore this normally closed area with its coastal scrub and bluff plant communities. There were splendid views in every direction of Tomales Bay, Pierce Point, and the blue Pacific. There was mellow, perfect 70’s weather with a light sea breeze in our faces. A sentinel brown pelican was assigned to monitor our progress and after giving us a number of aerial turns joined us later on the beach. Michael relayed from his PLACE NAMES OF MARIN that George Thomas Wood arrived on board a whaling ship about 1844. The sailor turned into a highly skilled cowboy here with horse and riata. He gained the name of Tom Vaquero and became “a legendary figure in early Marin”. He served as a business agent for the local Miwok Indians many of whom also worked in the lucrative hide & tallow trade trade. He married a local Miwok woman and learned the native language. Later in 1861, Tom Vaquero Wood married again perhaps after the death of his Miwok bride. This time it was to Augustina Sotello who was the god-daughter of James Black, the father in law to Galen Burdell. You’ll recall that the Burdells were married in 1862 so we must wonder if Tom and Augustina were invited to the wedding or perhaps shared the table at Olompali with the Burdells on occasion. Less likely would be Lillie Hitchcock Coit who was away in Paris by 1863 but then she was married in 1868 to Benjamin Howard Coit. It would be great fun to find them all together somewhere . . . perhaps passing on the street while visiting San Francisco and doffing the signature hats of the time. I wanted to include Jack London in the mix too but he’d have been only 3 when Bill Vaquero Wood went to his reward.

The entire Point lies within the San Andreas Fault Zone and you can practically see the fault and the Pacific Plate strike-slipping, steaming, screaming by.

The Pt. Reyes National Seashore comments that two white shark attacks occurred at the mouth of Tomales Bay in 1996. “Sharks may be found anywhere there is a seal haul-out area. In Tomales Bay, the area north of Tom’s Point, Hog Island and Pelican Point are the most likely areas to encounter white sharks.”

From Tom’s Point we could look over to Pierce Point and the trail that the group has enjoyed on a number of occasions mixing views of the ocean with the substantial herd of Tule Elk. We were just able to spot the tops of the Monterey Cypress trees at Pierce Point Ranch trailhead for that hike. A San Francisco law firm obtained title over 50,000 acres on Pt. Reyes Peninsula in 1857 selling Tomales Point to an old friend from Vermont, Solomon Pierce. As the PRNPS writes, “The Pierce family built a small town to support their isolated dairy ranches with commanding views of the Pacific and Tomales Bay.”
There they produced high quality butter in great demand in post Gold Rush San Francisco.

We gathered across from an old Tomales landmark, Diekmann’s General Store under a last quarter moon. The town was sparkling in the early morning sun.

On the Dillon Beach Road, the overlook from Elephant Rocks looking over Tomales Bay with incoming tide. Across is Pierce Point and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Along Dillon Beach you can see Lawson’s Landing just above the farmhouse in the picture.

Elephant Rocks (not Elephant Rock) along the Dillon Beach Road, marvelously sculpted metamorphics, lichen etched and, perhaps, with a number of Miwok grinding holes.

Sheep may safely graze.

Michael discovers some owl pellets beneath a Monterey Cypress with some amazingly sharp contents. Michael mentioned that the Rodentia make up the largest portion of mammalian biomass, followed by Chiroptera. And a neat article from the UK on bat conservation:

Perhaps the best picnic view yet this fall

Along the beach on Tomales Bay, a dike in the sandstone layers with visible quartz crystals (under Michael’s hand)

Our Brown Pelican observer about to take off to the comforts of the bay. An account from the East Bay:

Michael recalled the limerick about the pelican which we all began to memorize: I learned that it wasn’t written by Ogden Nash.

Looking down Tomales Bay toward Hog Island. Thanks Michael, is that an express train I hear?

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