Tuesday, May 12, 2015

California: Beachy

Sign at the Crystal Cove historic district
For me, water has a magnetic pull: my eyes are drawn to it, I want to touch it. I am fascinated by its mercurial nature: one minute calm, another roiling with destructive power. I love how it catches the light and doubles the magic.

Most of the days during our recent vacation in Southern California, we ended up at the beach, even if we took an excursion elsewhere earlier in the day. Our timeshare happens to be about a 20-minute walk from Crystal Cove State Park, so that is where we wandered.

Steve, Paul, and Nancy
California has been much in the news lately because of the prolonged drought it's suffering. You can see, in the above picture, how the chaparral (the scrub brush) is sere. It is certainly the worst we have seen it, and you can see that erosion is a serious concern.

I'm guessing the tide used to come in much higher than it does now.
At one end of the beach, there is a historic enclave of cottages from the 1930's and '40's. Many have been restored and are quirky and charming.

Others are fenced off pending restoration.

One of the larger cottages has been converted into a restaurant and bar. It doesn't look like much, but we had a really delectable meal there. (Reservations are highly recommended.)

The Beachcomber Restaurant
On one of our trips to the beach, I let the others wander along the shore while I read for a while and then became engrossed in the ocean. I took about 300 photos.

I was captivated by the interaction of water, air, light, and motion.

The sparks of light on the "smooth" water make me think of the lines from James Cockburn's song:
All the diamonds in this world
That mean anything to me
Are conjured up by wind and sunlight
Sparkling on the sea
You could never see the same scene twice.

I loved the glassy sheen of curling waves.
At the northern end of the beach (away from the cottage district), the cliffs are rocky.

I was enthralled by the shape of these rocks, evidence of geologic modeling, clashing of continental plates. Where I come from, the ground beneath my feet is either on top of the solid granite bedrock of the Canadian Shield or the sedate, usually horizontal, sedimentary layers of limestone. To see rock that has been folded and refolded just boggles my mind.

This pocket of erosion made me think of the gruesome teeth in a bony skull.

We spent quite a while clambering over the rocks, trying not to land in the drink.

Nancy has her eyes on something in the sky.
Steve and Paul
I don't know how long the beach was, but Steve ran along most of it every morning before the heat of the day.

And, of course, sunset on the west coast is spectacular. Always.

If you do decide to have dinner at The Beachcomber restaurant, time it for just after sunset, so you can enjoy the beauty before you head indoors to indulge your appetite. We've done it that way both times we've eaten there, and I highly recommend it.

Next up: the wildlife we saw at the beach.

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