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San Francisco weekend, day three — Muir Woods, Marin farmers market, Sausalito, Gracias Madre

Posted Jun 23 2013 11:00am

We awoke early on Sunday morning because we had a goal to get to the Muir Woods parking lot before it filled up. Although we arrived before the typical fill-up hour, the lot was packed, and we had to seek parking a short hike away. Lucky for us we found what looked like the last space in an small lot down the hilly road.

Spending Father's Day morning at Muir Woods.

Muir Woods, in case you don't know, is an ancient redwood forest in which many of the trees are more than 600 years old — the oldest trees exceed 1000 years of age. Most ancient coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) have been cut, but the redwoods in Muir Woods are protected, and have never been logged.

The trees are BIG.

Coast redwoods are nature's tallest living things, the tallest ones in Muir Woods reaching heights of more than 250 feet and diameters of 14 feet. Redwoods are fascinating trees with the ability to withstand fire and the capability of reproducing from both burls or seeds. We saw a new tree sprouting from a decomposing log.

The trails in Muir Woods are paved, easy to navigate, and crowded, but if you follow them onto the unpaved hiking trails of Mt. Tamalpais State Park, the crowds melt away and you can continue on longer hikes.

I was still favoring an injured toe which made my hiking boots uncomfortable to wear, so we stuck to the lower, somewhat level park trails, but there are elevated more challenging trails in the park that I would have liked to hike. We hiked for several miles through the gorgeous forest before heading to our next destination — the Marin farmers market.

Photo from tofu yu

Our purpose at the market was to find something to eat for lunch before going to Sausalito. We perused the market offerings, munching samples and marveling at all the vegan and gluten-free options. We found a Mariposa bakery stand again, and purchased another baguette, and then we came to the Tofu Yu stand. Whoa. They were selling all manner of magical tofu and yuba dishes made with their own tofu. After a couple of samples, I grabbed a package of unbelievably tasty spicy veggie wraps made with yuba — a little salty but so good. I love yuba. I tried to share equally but it was really hard, and I ate three wraps.

Photo from tofu yu

My husband also picked up a package of quinoa sushi which he liked but I didn't — too much seaweed. I love nori and I used to enjoy most sea vegetables, but ever since my dinner at Prasad in Portland, I've been put off by all sea veggies except nori.

In addition to the lunch, we bought a bag of toasted lentil snacks to bring home to Miss E, and some dates for us. I love the Marin farmers market — actually I love every farmers market I've been to in California. There is a mesmerizing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables unlike any I've seen in other places.

We all wanted to see the city of Sausalito, but the big motivation for visiting was the Heath Pottery outlet store. Jordan and Alison are interested in acquiring some dishes, and wanted to see if they could find better prices at the outlet. There were some beautiful pieces there but very expensive, which tends to be the case with premium, lead-free dishes made in the U.S. No purchases were made ... yet.

We wandered around downtown Sausalito enjoying the fabulous weather and gorgeous scenery, and wondered what it would be like to live in a place so filled with tourists.

I don't know. What do you think? Do you live in a tourist-filled vacation destination in a gorgeous seaside town?

We had been planning a walk on a beach but it was getting late and Jordan and Alison still needed to get their laundry done before dinner, so we headed back to San Francisco, where the weather was a lot cooler and the wind more brisk — a rude reminder that not every place in Northern California enjoys the same amount of sunny warmth.

Back at the Airbnb, I had to photograph the pocket garden just down the street from our building. There was so much charm tucked into a small space that it made me smile every time I passed by.

Our last meal together in San Francisco was at one of my favorite places — Gracias Madre. Initially, my son had vetoed Gracias Madre, but by Sunday night he'd changed his mind and agreed we should go. I'm so glad we did. I ordered tacos filled with a choice of seasonal vegetables, and my choices were roasted poblano chilies and leeks, sautéed kale with garlic and toasted cumin, and sautéed snap peas with garlic and chili flakes. The tacos were topped with cashew cheese and served with black beans — excellent. I was sure I'd be taking some home for breakfast, but nope, I ate the whole thing, and enjoyed every delicious bite. (My husband snapped the photo with his phone because I was too lazy to bring my camera along.) Because I didn't photograph the food — it's so dark in the restaurant — I can't remember what else was on the table except for a bowl of posole. I do remember that everyone at the table was very happy with their selections.

Here's Ken in our lovely Airbnb kitchen filling the kettle for a cup of tea before we left for the airport Monday morning. I don't think I'd want to actually live in the apartment, but it made a great vacation rental — more charm and space than a hotel room at much less cost.

One last food-related item I want to point out is the box of curry tofu nuggets we purchased at the market. I thought we got it in Marin but my son insists it came from the Ferry Building market, and he's probably right. Inside the box was a vacuum-sealed bag of smallish tofu nuggets as pictured on the box front. We carried it home in Ken's backpack along with the sauerkraut, and no one stopped us when we went through security. (I got patted down because of the nifty hidden zippered pocket in my shirt seam but no one seemed to care that we were packing large quantities of tofu and kraut.) We ate the nuggets for lunch when we arrived home on Monday, and they were spectacular. The texture was springy and chewy, kind of like I remember cheese curds, and the flavor was delicious. I wonder how they do it.
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