My Last Day in California Covering the Mill Valley Film Festival – A Day Trip to Bodega Bay (The Birds)

My last day in California’s Marin County was eventful. The plan was to drive to Bodega Bay, the small coastal village where Alfred Hitchcock shot much of his classic 1963 film The Birds which starred Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedrin. I had to return to San Rafael for the 4:00 PM showing of The Imitation Game at the Mill Valley Film Festival. This would be my last day (the 6th of October). The festival would run, or go on without me – until the 12th.

Following the film, I’d return to the cottage in San Anselmo, relax for a while, then head back down US 101 to the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d navigate through San Francisco toward my ultimate driving destination – San Francisco Airport (SFO).

I was booked on the 12:15 AM flight out of SFO to Charlotte, NC and then on to Sarasota with US Air. This was the so-called red-eye. I’ve flown to Brazil, and Asia, even Europe on overnight flights, but this was my first time in flying a red-eye within the USA.

The run up from San Anselmo to Petaluma was a straight shot up US 101. Coming out of Petaluma, I’d be heading due west on Washington Avenue, which eventually changed names to become Valley Ford Road. It was a standard ride through California’s Sonoma County which meant plenty of hills and curves in the road.

As I approached Bodega Bay, I actually missed the turn, and the next thing I know, I was looking at the Pacific Ocean. I had turned off the road and the car sat in a small parking lot , which was really just an extended super sized road shoulder. There was no sign calling this a parking lot, but when you see cars parked and the ocean, it seemed like stopping and walking down to the beach was the right thing to do. This was actually called Salmon Creek North Beach, and it was just a few minutes from Bodega Bay.

A few sea gulls sat on a rock nearby. I’m sure they didn’t find a parking area all that intriguing except for the possibility of a food offering. Sorry guys, I’m not giving up my bottle of water, which was all I had brought with me. I couldn’t be sure but it looked like these birds were saying. No problem – but keep moving. This is our spot.

Now the beach, on this particular day, was more about the sounds of the surf, rather than the look of it.

I’m sure you can tell from the pictures, that this was a foggy day. This wasn’t early morning, this was just a bit before noon. There was no cop telling me to move on, nothing to see here, but that was the case.

Have a look at the fogged in beach. I only took a few photos and the one above was the best.

Now it was time for lunch so I headed back into town to find the marina,

… and a suitable place for lunch. That lunch place turned out to be the Spud Point Crab Co., and yes, the New England Clam Chowder was delicious as was the crab sandwich.

My trip back to San Anselmo called for a decision. I could head back to Petaluma and then down the 101 to San Anselmo – the same way I arrived.

But I asked a couple sitting in their car at the far end of Bodega Bay, at the headland, where across the small bay you could see a camp ground and beyond that the ocean. Above is the map, and you can see where the road ends near the southwest section of the map. Below is my own picture of what I saw from that spot on the end of the road across the inlet from the campgrounds and Doran Beach Road..

This couple was more than helpful. They were from Evanston, Illinois but the woman said she grew up in the Bronx.

I asked about taking the road called California 1 south bound. They told me it was a pretty drive, but don’t take it if you are in a hurry. I wasn’t – I had about two and half hours to get back and get in line for my film. But the distance was less than sixty miles.

I expected to see the magnificent California coastline with the Pacific Ocean on my right. Like the fog-free image above. But that picture was what the road was North of Bodega Bay. And I’d been there, only it had been fogged in.

What I got instead was a coastal road but it was the coast of Tomales Bay rather than the ocean. Many, many, many twists and turns, rises and falls, and hair pin turns later – I was at Point Reyes Station, and from there it was an easy ride home.

If you look at the small map above – you can see that long, finger-like inlet water (where the red arrow is) – that’s Tomales Bay, and that’s the coast I drove on.

Got to the movie in plenty of time. My review of The Imitation Game is the post just before this one. Or just click the link

Back to San Anselmo and the cottage on Hazel Avenue. I had already packed and triple checked that I wasn’t leaving anything behind. Take a look at the small setting on the deck. I left the place, leaving the cottage open and the keys on the dining room table as per the instructions. It was about 7:00 PM.


By the time I got to the Golden Gate Bridge it was already fogged in. Kind of a scary drive as you couldn’t see the city, or the water. But I stayed in the middle lane and got over the bridge. From there I followed the instructions of the Garmin GPS system through San Francisco. And eventually I arrived at the car rental building at SFO. Had about three hours to kill before boarding. But you know how that goes. Had some dinner, played scrabble on the tablet. It all worked out, even got through the Security screening quickly due to my status of TSA Pre-checked. I had been able to exchange my seat from row 19 to row 9 on the aisle. We took off on time, and four hours and twenty sleepless minutes later, we touched down at Charlotte, NC.

I had a bit of a wait before my flight to Sarasota – and breakfast seemed like a good idea. The flight from Charlotte to Sarasota was just 70 minutes. Soon enough I’d be home.

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