Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Tennessee Valley Hike

One more post about our recent trip to the United States, then I'll be back to Europe.

On this day, we are hiking through Tennessee Valley, a national park area located between Sausalito and Mill Valley, Calif., with Ken's sister Karen and her husband Jack.

Approaching the Pacific Ocean at the edge of Tennessee Valley

Tennessee Valley isn't just a beautiful place to visit, it also holds special memories for the Knudsens. Ken's maternal grandparents, Bud and Geraldine Bettencourt, once lived here. During Ken's teenage years, he and his family lived here too, finding rural living more economical for a large family during the drought years of the 1970s. 

My brother-in-law Jack

Detail of the old barn in Tennessee Valley

Tennessee Valley's original residents were, of course, Native Americans. For thousands of years, the area was occupied by the Coast Miwoks. Eventually, the land was annexed as part of what would become Sausalito. In the mid-1800s, the land was sold to Samuel Throckmorton who would, in turn, lease much of it to Portuguese dairy farmers. (Grandpa Bud himself was a dairy farmer of Portuguese descent.)

As the 20th century ended, the land became part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Tennessee Valley grasses include native purple needlegrass,
California oatgrass and red fescue.

We stop and examine the land where the family homested once stood. Ken and his sister talk about what life in Tennessee Valley was like when they lived there. Even the commute between the valley and the kids' social activities and school was adventurous.

Karen and Ken pose on the land where their grandparents lived.

The 1.7-mile path leads to the Pacific Ocean. It's an easy walk, although there are more challenging hiking trails along the ridges. This is a wetlands sanctuary and we obey the signs asking us to stay on the path. 

Crossing a bridge in Tennessee Valley

The ocean is spectacular today. It's been too many years since I've dipped my toe in the Pacific. 

A black sandy beach at the west end of the Tennessee Valley trail

It's quiet here. The sound of the sea is a peaceful soundtrack to Ken's and Karen's childhood memories. 

Mod Squad-ish, right?

If you're interested in hiking at Tennessee Valley, check out this link on the Golden Gate National Recreational Area site.

Ken and I at the midway point of our Tennessee Valley hike

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