Coastal Trail in Martinez, CA

The John Muir National Historic Site.

Maybe it’s because we move around so much but I hate to waste a trip. When we found myself going to Martinez CA for family business, we decided to see what the town of Martinez has to offer. If you only know the area from driving by on Interstate 80, you could be forgiven for wondering why we might bother. It’s easy to believe that Martinez is nothing but refineries. But the truth is, they have a wonderful downtown full of antique shops and restaurants. They also have John Muir’s home, a National Historic Site that can be visited Wednesday through Sunday (we learned that the hard way as we stopped by on a Monday afternoon). But best of all, in my opinion, is the coastal trail.

The Alhambra creek headed out to the Carquinez Straits.

A footbridge invited us to walk further.

Sometimes the best bird shot is just a silhouette in the sky.

We had hoped to picnic by the water but the late afternoon winds prevented our casual dinner. That didn’t stop us from walking around and enjoying the views. Despite the wind, we saw a fair amount of birds, including a hawk that circled high over head. The grasses were full of twittering sparrows and smaller songbirds that were difficult to see but beautiful to hear. And I can imagine lots of shorebirds at a different time of the year. Most interesting were the burnt out ruins of an old ship. The story is that an old ship captain lived off his old boat in that exact same spot for many years. After he died, the ship remained. In the 1970’s, it burned down and today, all we can see is its remains.

The burnt out remains of an old ship.

Next time you have an errand to run and it takes a little bit of a drive, consider doing a little exploration as well. Even the least likely of towns has a little something to offer a casual visitor. And, who knows, you may find yourself wanting to visit again.

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