Every now and again, I will find myself in a spot in the world that I belong to. My body, mind, and soul know before I even get there. Some sort of spiritual anticipation takes hold, and I find myself standing there, home.
Bolinas is one of those spots. I'd almost rather not tell you about it for fear you'll go, and I'll have to spar with tourists other than myself trying to get a hit of what I'm talking about. But one thing that I've learned throughout my life is that I should always give freely of what I find, the reward for which is a happy destiny.
My connection to the place runs back to a trip my parents and I took to California when I was 14. It was a sweeping exploration of Northern California, hitting the nooks and crannies of Yosemite, Mill Valley, Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Lake Tahoe, and San Francisco. I swear the smell of Northern California made its way into my soul. A year later, I went back and spent a summer in the High Sierras. After that summer, I didn't revisit those places until nearly 20 years later, all the while carrying around the echo of those mountains, trees, and beaches in my heart.
As luck would have it, one of my best friends moved to Silicon Valley, and we set out to explore, hearing whispers of a relatively untouched town on a craggy coast that promised to have no frills, cold water, and something of an unwelcoming vibe. That was really all I had to know. We embarked on what has become a ritual for us both. Climb in the car, stop in Mill Valley for coffee and buy a Pendleton towel to dry off with, and head over the heady heights of Mt. Tamalpais through Muir Woods, awakening the olfactory ghosts of my misguided youth. Mist and clouds swirl the pass, and towering redwoods are sentries standing steadfastly by.
We missed the turn a few times, which is owed in part to the locals tearing down the sign marking the road. You will also think "you're there" when you hit Stinson, which is cool in its own right. If you decide to stop there and not head to Bolinas, I'm good with that decision, by the way. From Stinson, you wind around the lagoon where sea birds and seals congregate basking in the sun or maybe rain. The weather is another amazing thing about Bolinas. It's just shitty and unpredictable enough that if you don't have any grit or grace, you won't find yourself at home there.
If you've got the option, I'd ditch your beamer for a beater. Chances are you won't feel so acutely the indifference from the people in town as you exit your vehicle. From there we usually grab a sandwich at the People's Store and head down the wharf to make my way out to the Naked Surfing sign and find some sand.
You either get it, or you don't: cold saltwater, a town where you're not explicitly told to fuck off, but you feel a little bit of that, and a turkey sandwich while you sit on the beach and think about how amazing that cold ass water is going to feel when you jump in. I started flying home from Asia through San Francisco just to get that feeling of being home before I actually got home. The cold saltwater baptizing me back into my country, the smell of the trees running me back through all-time memories.
So if you're wondering where I am, that's one of the places you may find me hiding. It's a spot that has inspired more than just a poncho that looks weathered from salt and sun. Hopefully, you have those places too, but in case you don't, you can borrow mine for a while until you find home.