Chasing sunsets and silver linings in Marin

How we created a new family tradition during some pretty rough times.

By: Brian Heifferon + Save to a List

“Sunset burrito time!”

That’s the rallying cry echoing across the house on a warm Tuesday afternoon, as we hurriedly close laptops and shuffle around stuffing sweatshirts into backpacks and tossing drinks into a cooler. It’s my favorite time of the day.

During the pandemic, amid endless and overlapping schedules and Zoom calls, my small family made a decision that we needed to break up the monotony of those typical, soul-sucking weeks. So, we decided that we’d try to start taking midweek adventures and to get outside, together. We didn’t really have a plan, so we decided to just keep it simple and focused on two of our favorite things: burritos and sunsets.

Turns out, that’s a pretty hard combination to mess up, and a good reminder that there are silver linings to be found in all types of situations.

As we took our first steps into our exciting new lifestyle full of impromptu post-work, midweek adventures, we realized that it would require a more casual approach, because speed and convenience became paramount.

Instead of packing home-cooked meals, we’d call in burritos from our spot down the street. Instead of fresh cut fruit, the kids were getting packets of fruit snacks (in case of emergency). Instead of multiple layer options, lanterns, and reusable water bottles, we stuffed hoodies into backpacks, grabbed headlamps, and dumped a handful of drinks from the fridge into a small cooler. And we were out the door!

We mostly spent time exploring local trailheads, lookouts, beaches, and vistas that weren’t more than 30 minutes from our front door. We used the Outbound app and tips from friends to find a few gems. Over the past couple of years, we've discovered a bunch of great spots - here are a couple of our favorites: Photograph Trojan Point, Bonfire at Muir Beach, and Summit of Mt. Tamalpais Loop.

A welcome addition: Our new fort on wheels

A very pleasant (and somewhat non-obvious) addition to our impromptu adventure kit has been our rooftop tent, which we recently picked up from our friends at Ironman 4x4. While the tent is obviously at home at campgrounds and serves as a wonderful and quick alternative to the slog of setting up a traditional tent, bending stakes, and sleeping on the ground, it has really stood out during our everyday adventures.

When speed and convenience are a priority, it’s pretty hard to beat the ease and flexibility of a rooftop tent. It pops open and is completely set up in about 5 minutes, and the best part - it effectively acts as a mobile fort for our kids. They absolutely love it.

Whether we’re posting up at our favorite scenic lookout, or hiding out from the sun during a midday break at the beach, the kids (and our friends’ kids) are always making use of the tent. Its high density foam floor is comfortable, the footprint is spacious, and it has plenty of head room just in case you want to join in on a game of cards. While it is definitely a luxury, it’s been a wonderful new complement to our family outings and everyday adventures.

As we’ve continued to move further out of the pandemic, our midweek adventures are now relegated to longer holidays and summer breaks. While less frequent, Sunset Burrito Time PT is still my favorite time of the day, week, or month. I cherish the memories we’ve created by simply packing up the car and getting out for a quick escape, and I look forward to creating many more.


We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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