A Sunday departure at 9:00 a.m. allowed us to skip San Francisco’s infamous traffic and cross the Golden Gate Bridge. The occasion marked my first clear view of Alcatraz and the impressive views of the ports of San Francisco as I peered through the car window behind me. The sun poked through over the city but we were enveloped in early morning’s fog coming off the Pacific and crossing into Marin County.

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Muir Beach

In about 30 minutes we had left the city center, held our breath along steep and winding cliff sides and parked at Muir Beach.

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My friends are fearless

We started up the dirt trails which narrow and lead you to the cliffs that meet the Pacific Ocean, a distant peer downward into the whitewater of a roaring ocean. We would be strolling the dramatic coastline in the area of Muir Woods, named for John Muir — an environmental conservationist largely responsible for encouraging F.D.R. to preserve land and parks, such as Yosemite.

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Pirate’s Cove

We continue on the path to Pirate’s Cove. After a steep, heart-racing climb and a few snaking mile, the paths merge with some wooden steps which lead you to the steep, rocky rubble that separates you and the white sand beach. And so we made our way through the rocks to reach the water.

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One the beach

It’s a small black sand beach with two large boulders dropped in its midst, surrounded by cliffs and resting hawks.

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Is it a flying top hat and seated yoga? No, it’s a bird and cell phone photos.

The power of the ocean is palpable as waves crest as high as 10 feet and then almost fool you into being inviting before they tear at the coast moments later.

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The rocky, rubble we climbed down, then up

We climbed back up the rubble wall, employing hands and feet to balance and secure ourselves back to the regular path.

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Cliffside views

To celebrate our successful excursion, we grabbed brunch at the nearby Pelican Inn — a Scottish-inspired inn, which transports you from northern California to deep in the highlands.

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The Pelican Inn

I sipped a kir royale and dined on liver and onion at a long wooded table lit by candles.

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One of the long dining tables at The Pelican Inn

Alas, it was time to leave beautiful Muir Woods and so we returned to San Francisco where the morning fog had lifted and the sun shone brightly. One last stop before the Golden Gate, we went to Bar Bocce in Sausalito taking in our afternoon coffees and beers, and the marina view.

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Sausalito, CA