On a recent trip to the U.S., I decided to look for this confluence on the spur of the
moment. With only a rental car map and my sketchy memory of previous visits from months
before to go by, I started one morning with an assurance to my wife that I would be back
The Bay Area had just experienced a short but violent storm the night before and the aftermath
was readily apparent; trees were down, radio news reports said many people were without
power and rain continued to fall sporadically.
All 29 of my previous confluence point visits have been in China and this trip afforded
an opportunity to greatly broaden my personal confluence map area. Also,
uncharacteristically, I used a car to travel to this area. Normally in China, I would use
public transportation or my bicycle, but this being America, where the car reigns supreme
(and I had no other option), I reluctantly followed suit.
It has been five and a half years since I lived in San Francisco, and I had forgotten
how dramatic the sights of this place can be. The multitude of hills offer a never-ending
change in view to the landmarks I had grown so accustomed to seeing when I lived here.
Coit Tower, the Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Park, Alcatraz, and the incomparable
Golden Gate Bridge made the ride a pleasant one.
I knew from previous reports that this confluence point was in the Point Reyes National
Seashore, and looking at my rental car map (with no lines of lat/long) I surmised that it
must not be far off Route 1.
Heading north from San Francisco and after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, Route 1
splits from Route 101 in Sausalito. This stretch of road is probably seen by more people
in America than any other because its nonstop tight curves, steep hills great coastal
views, and most importantly, the lack of fences ideally suits it for automobile
commercials. The road is a cyclist’s and sports car driver’s wet dream. Being
pressed for time, I became an amateur Mario Andredi, testing the friction coefficient of
Along the way, a multitude of different varieties of birds appeared reminding me how
few I see outside of cages in China. I passed through a wooded area of huge eucalyptus
trees. These trees were introduced from Australia long ago because of their fast growing
characteristics and have thrived, but to the detriment of the native redwoods.
After setting the GPS to my destination, I realized that I would have to get off Route
1 at some point as the arrow continued to turn west, away from northbound Route 1. A
likely looking candidate appeared and I turned down this road and then as I passed many
more intersections, I realized the folly of my ways in thinking that I could get there
without a map.
I stopped at a bakery in Inverness and asked if they had a map. "No, we just ran
out." was the answer. The clerk then asked where I wanted to go. When hunting
confluence points, this is always a difficult answer, but unlike being in China, at least
I had the advantage of explaining it in my mother tongue. However, the glazing over of the
eyes and the bewildered looks confirmed that lack of understanding was not because of
language. So as a last resort, I asked if they knew how I could get back to the area
behind the store. "Well, there is a road a ways back." I thanked her for her
time and went on my way.
The road looked promising for a ways, but then an ominous "NOT A THROUGH
ROAD" sign appeared. I was still 10 km from the CP and while it seemed unlike that
this road would go that far, I thought I better check.
Unlike in China where people are everywhere, it is very difficult to find people to ask
for directions. And those that you find to ask are very suspicious about your intentions.
Most are sequestered away in cars or locked up in their houses whereas in China people are
out and about everywhere, all the time.
Two km later, the road ended at a locked gate with another road on the other side
tantalizingly leading in the right direction. With no one around I had no choice but to
return the way I came and try again.
Further back was a park road heading to the beach. This looked promising and the trip
over the surrounding hills offered fantastic views. Twelve km later, I ended up at the
beach parking lot and still 14 km from the CP.
The lot was full of cars, but devoid of people. Checking the area for a map, I found
only a very general park display of northern California with no details of roads or
lat/long lines. I thought I would have to give up the search given that I had told my wife
I would be back before noon. So I took the some photos of the area and the GPS, just in
case I ended up not making it.
From this point, however, I could see where I needed to go on the other side of the
bay, but there was no road leading directly there. A man in a pickup just arrived and I
asked him how I could get to that point of land. He said there was an estuary between here
and there, so I would have to drive a long way around it and take the road to the
It was disappointing news and given the time I had used to get here, would this set
back would undoubtedly make me late (again) from returning after a confluence hunt, but I
had come this far and thought I would give it a try.
Again testing the limits of the tire friction coefficient and hoping to avoid detection
by the Park Rangers, I sped back the eight miles I came down this road, and back past the
bakery where I had asked for directions nearly an hour before.
The road to the lighthouse passes through several small towns before climbing up to a
ridge. Open ranges for cattle grazing and view of the Pacific coastline made it an
unforgettable journey. The GPS arrow pointed dead ahead down the road and the distance to
go dropped rapidly.
At about 500 meters to go I passed a dairy farm. The road looped around and climbed a
hill. At 430 meters the road deviated and a dirt track driveway with an "AUTHORIZED
VEHICLES ONLY" sign stopped my motorized advance. The rest would be on foot.
The area was a thick grassy field very wet from the recent rain and devoid of trees.
The location is on a narrow peninsula and the Pacific Ocean could be seen in directions.
Down the hill a short way I located the sweet spot and recorded a "perfect
Time limitations kept me from visiting the nearby lighthouse, but the views both coming
and going made the trip most enjoyable. I had come back to the U.S. with the thought that I
might have to live here for a number of years, but conditions changed and I would be
returning to my home in China where I can continue to hunt in relatively virgin area.
Despite the beauty of the U.S., I much prefer being in China and look forward to joining
my good friend Targ Parsons on some of his future expeditions. (Yes, Targ, I’m back!)