Big Sur - Pfeiffer Beach
A more memorable place I doubt will ever exist for me. This small patch of beach, nestled between soaring cliffs, provides much to explore. From the hidden trail at its furthest end, which first greets one with tide pools where sea lions are found at rest, to the shallow creek, rushing to meet the deep blue expanse, guided on its way by the manganese-infused purple sand. A rocky barrier beyond the shoreline provides both safety from the wild ocean, and a scenic feast for the eyes, watching the waves crash about the sea stacks, most famously through the grand arched rock.
Cabrillo National Monument - Tide Pools
The ebb of the sea to another land brought forth hidden life. Shelf after shelf revealed where the battering waves had carved out holes for creatures to safely harbor. The lush silky algae, brimming green, clung to any surface that allowed for its growth, left to tussle about with the persistent swell. I wondered, for how long must these eroding rocks wait before water and wind return them to dust? Carried off to eternity, until those very same forces deposit the particles into a riverbed or lake, or infuse them with the earthly soil from which new life will sprout.
Torrey Pines State Beach - Beach Trail
Clouds .05. The sun began its fiery descent into the Pacific, its changing light unhindered in the atmosphere. As it continued to lower, the horizon streaked passionately at length, reflecting warm colors on the tidal flood wading in and out. A green flash, sun finally out of sight, the colors softened, flaming red giving way to pastel hues of orange, pink, purple, and blue. The shorebirds scurried about, still busy digging for their dinners in the fading light, all seemed to take cue as the beach cleared under darkness.
Torrey Pines State Beach - North Beach
The Southern Coast of California is lined with beach towns up and down, so even when away from the urban sprawls, there is little to see of these city stars. But skies dark enough can be had if one knows when and where to look. Nestled under the palms, the Milky Way arched across the sky, the suns of other worlds not as clearly seen as would be on a desert or mountain night. But without such distraction, the planets of our solar system are easily seen. Particularly our brother Mars, with his famous gleam of crimson blood, immediately discernable just above horizon west.
Big Sur - McWay Falls
Though the sky was shrouded in haze, the sun refused to hide its rays from the falling water and rugged wall that failed to contain the flow. The scenery was set more like a museum exhibit, our star acting as a spotlight on the untouchable pristine shoreline, barricaded by towering cliffs from the tourist droves above, and harbored from any sea approach by the rocky coast and raging ocean below. Only the animals, truly free, are able to bathe in this plunging torrent, where mountain meets the coast.
Sonoma Coast State Beach - Duncan's Point
Starting up the Lost Coast, I was welcomed by a shoreline of turquoise I had only ever seen on the Côte d’Azur. The ocean was speckled frothy white from the turning waves, crashing upon the endless rocky barriers protruding in the tide. As I continued along the undulating, winding, windy road, I came upon a peninsula jutting out toward the Pacific. The ground was covered with sea-fig flowers, their vines of broad leaves intermingled like a well-stitched rug. Looking south, the view sparkled in the light, showing the magnificent underbelly of the path I had just traveled, while the flecks of feathery veils above sailed east.