The Marin headlands are one of my favorite, most beautifully desolate places to visit.  Go north over the Golden Gate Bridge, and take the first left off the 101, instead of the familiar right curve to Sausalito.  When we lived in San Francisco, we often explored the sehills, our Aussies Maxx and Annie running up and back, exploring, smelling, chasing, wandering.

These windswept hills overlook the forever-pounding Pacific Ocean, salty water foaming over tall black rocks sitting like miniature islands, some now white with bird guano.  Remnants of old military barracks dot the hills,  and this week Ronan found a rusted bullet remains on a sandy path we walked.

One day I will be part of these hills,  winds whirling my dusty remains onto the lichens and dancing mango-colored California poppies and tiny succulants that cover the ground.  It is already the resting spot for our loyal friend Maxx, and last week we spread the ashes of Annie, who came from these lands, so she can run with us during future escapades over these hills.

Just avoiding the rain, we lunched under cloudy skies, before they dissipated as we began our climb.  We soon wrapped our sweatshirts around our waists, stopping for water as the air warmed.  We meandered to our favorite spot to leave Annie,  then walked on for another hour, stopping to watch lizards play, throw rocks off the cliffs, search for sea lions in the surf (alas-none spotted today), and stop/start as we came to unexpected ends of paths. One daughter, who claimed to dislike hiking, wanted to climb to the very top hill, but there was no path from where we were.

We descended from the hills to let the kids run in the surf, trousers wetter than expected as the tide moved in, picking up flat rocks and split sand dollars then finding a sixteen-inch jellyfish wash onto the beach then eventually taken back into the churning waters.  We never figured out if it was still alive, or now.

“That was a fun excursion,” one of our kids commented as we climbed back into our car.   Agreed.

A final, fitting farewell to Annie. C

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