who hike will like this guide
author knows her stuff
by Richard Polito
Grays Guide to Point Reyes was 25 years in the
making. Thats how long shes spent hiking,
paddling and prowling the wild and open spaces of Point
Reyes. Shes spent the last dozen years dispensing
must-see advice to guests at her Jasmine Cottage Bed
and Breakfast in Point Reyes Station.
She knows her
subject and that she says, puts her book ahead of a
lot of other guide books written by people who dont
live in the area. "Having really been here and
not only hiked the trails in Point Reyes for 20 years,
but sharing it with the little guy," Gray says.
That little guy
is her son. He was 2 when she started on "The Family
Guide to Point Reyes." He 5 now and hes part
of the reason she put the book together. Families with
children have special needs when it comes to enjoying
a place like Point Reyes. "A guide really geared
to families didnt exist," Gray says.
The other part
of the reason is Papermill Childrens Corner, a
cooperative preschool where her son spent a big part
of his earliest years. She wanted to do something for
the preschool and the book became that something. All
proceeds from the sales of the book go to the school.
was so supportive and loving to our family and I wanted
to give back to them, but I didnt have the time
where I could go and volunteer and sit through meetings
and help." But the book doesnt look like
the usual mimeographed collection of recipes youd
expect of a preschool fundraising project. This is a
real book, well-designed, professionally bound and wonderfully
illustrated. Gray drew some of the illustrations herself.
Others were donated by naturalist illustrator Ane Rovetta.
An editor from a publishing house pitched in and Grays
sister, a professional designer, gave the book its look.
The result is a guidebook that looks like it came out
of a big-time publisher.
pretty useful. Before describing each hike or outing,
Gray lists the clothing and gear a family would need.
She also warns which outings might be too daunting for
young children. "I organized it in such a way for
families who were out there for the day. They have the
basic information they need to have about different
kinds of trails, what kind of supplies to take, what
to wear and what to expect." Its the kind
of advice she became very adept at providing in 12 years
as the host of a bed and breakfast. She knows a little
bit about families. "Often I have the parents,
the grandparents and the children come and stay with
me," Gray says.
She also knows
a little bit about nature. Grays been watching
the wild environs of West Marin for 25 years and she
knows where to go to see tide pools, teeming with life
and ospreys alighting on sandy beaches. She can also
tell you how to observe harbor seal colonies without
disturbing their laid-back lifestyle. Gray also includes
one chapter on where to see the best sunsets and moonrises
and three separate sections on beaches for young kids,
big kids and beachcombing. Theres a lot of information
packed into the guides 175 pages and Gray can
vouch for all of it. Shes tried every trail and
advised guests on every outing. Thats why the
book ends with a page on what to do on a rainy day.
"A lot of guide books assume its always going
to be a sunny beautiful day," she says. Gray knows
better. Shes had 25 years to study the subject.
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