The Family Guide To POINT REYES
Press Reviews

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Families who hike will like this guide

Point Reyes author knows her stuff
by Richard Polito
IJ reporter

Karen Gray’s Guide to Point Reyes was 25 years in the making. That’s how long she’s spent hiking, paddling and prowling the wild and open spaces of Point Reyes. She’s 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 don’t 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 he’s 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 didn’t exist," Gray says.

The other part of the reason is Papermill Children’s 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.

"The school was so supportive and loving to our family and I wanted to give back to them, but I didn’t have the time where I could go and volunteer and sit through meetings and help." But the book doesn’t look like the usual mimeographed collection of recipes you’d 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 Gray’s 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.

It’s also 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." It’s 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. Gray’s 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. There’s a lot of information packed into the guide’s 175 pages and Gray can vouch for all of it. She’s tried every trail and advised guests on every outing. That’s why the book ends with a page on what to do on a rainy day. "A lot of guide books assume it’s always going to be a sunny beautiful day," she says. Gray knows better. She’s had 25 years to study the subject. ---end---

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