I have been to California three times. Each trip has brought me me a stronger sense of 'home' among the wildflowers, and a stronger sense of self among the dramatic waves. My first home was in the Rocky Mountains, the second on the West Coast of Canada, and the third is most definitely my Pacific sanctuary on the coast of California. This blog post will cover the spots we discovered (both popular, and hidden) on our most recent journey around this special place.
We arrived in San Fransisco on a Friday afternoon, the warmth and coastal ease settling into our tired bones. We were picked up at the airport by Chris's parents, and driven straight to the beach near their home in Half Moon Bay. I love this town deeply. The details embedded in the buildings and presence of casual beauty keeping me crushing like a school girl on this sleepy town. My favourite feature is the tiny crescent moons woven into the architecture and public art. No wonder the tides are drawn there.
Bringing Chris's kite-surfing training kite along, we headed out to walk Carmen the dog along Redondo Beach. The wind had the strength familiar to me at mountain peaks, which made for an entertaining environment to learn how to fly this kite. It was a beautiful welcome home, despite being sunburnt just 3 hours later.
Each beach-filled day rolled into the next. Finally, it was time to make my dream of 5 years a reality. We were going to Big Sur! We chose a day with perfect weather, the sun soaking our chests. We played my favourite playlist (mostly old-school hip hop like Jurassic 5 and The Roots, mixed with Drake, Young the Giant, SZA, and favourites from Lorde's Melodrama). We meandered our way down Highway 1, stopping only once and catching our breath, because the view was too stunning to be swallowed in passing.
I remember when I was younger, how I would dream of driving down the coast with my tall, loveable boyfriend like Lauren Conrad in The Hills. In reality, it's even better than my 13-year-old self could have imagined. Chris is not a douchebag to me like Brody Jenner was to Lauren.
Making itineraries is a great love of mine. I am quite proud of this day trip I concocted, and would highly recommend it. We drove to the furthest point first, McWay falls. The water tricked me into thinking I was in the tropics. The truest turquoise matched with the deep blue hues of the Pacific was difficult to tear my eyes away from, making the crowded trail worth the extra distance of road. Hunger pounced on us soon after our arrival to the falls. Heading back up the highway, we stopped for lunch at Nepenthe. To my delight, they had a vegan option! And an amazing view. And affordable rosé. It was heavenly.
The last stop on our day trip was Andrew Molera State Park. When we arrived, the volunteer park ranger didn't even know about the hike I wanted to do. "Never heard of it!" she stated, bluntly. I was determined to find the trail, however, because it led to a hidden cove with a stunning beach. Starting off without any sureness of our direction, we crossed a river within the first kilometre of our journey. There was a couple waiting at the riverbed before we crossed, and they asked us to go first because it looked deep. Neither Chris nor I hesitated, leaping into the water and across to the other side with ease. The couple followed us, making hilarious howls of shock and joy. "You made that look a lot easier than it actually was!" the woman said, and I responded, laughing, "well, we are from Canada!" - and the couple appeared satisfied with our reasoning for being less sensitive to the refreshing water.
We continued on Bluff Trail through rolling hills lined with wildflowers. We saw cows in the distance, and the ocean even farther beyond that. It was quiet. My ears tuned in to that quiet. My shoulders released and my breath deepened. Inhales and exhales matched the pace of the waves. I felt free there. Nobody else in sight, just Chris and I, and the flowers.
We had trouble finding Spring Trail, the route to the beach. After a few detours and asking multiple passers-by, we found it, and followed it down to meet a pile of large beach wood. Carefully balancing on one log after the other, we made it to the beach. And oh, it was so worth the extra effort and doubt. We had the entire beach to ourselves. The cliffs, the waves, and the purple sand was all untouched. Chris sunbathed as I sprinted along the expanse of the shore. I could have stayed there forever.
The following few days were humbled and steady. We took Carmen for walks, went for beautiful dinners in town, and met for breakfast at a tiny but busy spot at the (one-runway) airport with our local San Franciscan friend. Chris's mom and I went to yoga with GOATS. It was just as hilarious as it sounds. The class was about 25% yoga and 75% cuddling the goats. Some were as young as 1 week old! They were precious. Warmth and love radiated from their tiny energetic, and sometimes sleepy, bodies.
I started catching a cold on our last day in California. I took it as a sign to slow down and take everything in. On our final beach walk I sat nestled in the sand and gazed at the waves. My favourite thing about visiting coastal California is the waves. While I live on the Pacific coast, I never see waves quite so determined. My city is protected from the open waters by multiple islands, leaving the gentlest of ebbs and swells. The waves there, though, were enchanting. I tried my best to absorb their scent, their taste, and their tangible wisdom. Thinking back, I believe I did. That memory is as vivid as this evening I am writing.
Coastal California, part of my heart is still with you. I will be back soon.