“And now for something completely different:”
Tucker and I haven’t spent a night away from our humble abode in almost six months. That’s a record for us—and not one I’m pleased with. We’re adventurers and wanderers. Home base is a lovely place to be, but it’s just a base. Our real home is the open road.
Usually it is the mountains and forests who call to me when I lie awake restless. But this time it was the ocean who called to me. I longed for the northern Californian coast with it’s dramatic cliffs and flowery bluffs.
But 48 hours wasn’t enough to drive the 300 miles north, enjoy a hike, and drive back. I had to settle for a compromise. One hundred a fifty miles north, southern California becomes northern California. At that critical juncture is the hike from Jalama Beach to Point Conception. It’s 11 miles out and back along a beach to a lighthouse. It was exactly what we needed. I packed a bag for Tuck and me, just in case our longest-hike-ever left me too tired to drive back at the end of the day.
Because we had to skirt the ocean the whole way there, the tide schedule was critical. High tide was conveniently at 9:30am before we arrived and low tide was 2:30pm, just about the time I expected to arrive at the lighthouse. The last thing I wanted was for us to be stranded on a beach, unable to get back because the tide came in. Most of the hikers who had done it on alltrails clocked it at 4-5 hours, so I gave us six, not being the fastest hikers (not the most in shape.) It was a walk at sea-level, but walking in deep sand is exhausting.
Road trips are fun for me to get out and see new beautiful spaces:
And hour and a half later, after the road swung back inland, leaving us from the ocean, I can understand why Jamala is not crowded. I wonder how many people know about it, and those that do, if they risk the journey there. Taking a left off Highway 1 on a road with a “No outlet” sign at the beginning makes you question your judgement. The two-lane country road winds through hills and valleys for thirteen miles, narrowing like a mountain road. There are no pictures of this stretch as I needed both hands on the wheel to take the sudden tight turns and avoid careening off the cliffs into the sprawling valleys below.
The campsites were booked for the weekend, but there were still spaces for day-use folks like Tucker and me. People gathered around tents and RV’s and drank and ate. Kids played. Humans walked their excited canines on leashes through the parking lot.
As we started up over the sandy dune from pavement to beach, I saw an orange triangular object come bouncing over the dune. I didn’t know what it was and thought it was travelling unusually fast given that the wind wasn’t fierce. I turned and heard/felt a “thwap!” on my back. Huh. I continued waling until I heard a child yelling, “Wait! Lady! You saved my kite!”
I turned around to see an eight year old boy running toward me, and then looked up to see that there was indeed a kite above me. The boy fumbled with my backpack, and finally released the end of his kite from whatever it had gotten hooked on on my backpack.
For those that don’t believe all of life is in the timing, you’ve never inadvertently saved a boy’s kite by being in precisely the right place at exactly the right moment.
We crested the sand dune and before us was the glorious ocean under puffy clouds. A kiteboarder was coming for a landing, and Tucker seemed a little concerned at his awkward descent:
So (since no one reads this blog anyway, I can say this), we took the road not-supposed-to-be-travelled. It was the path on the map, and the path that most people who had seen the lighthouse had certainly taken, given the photos they took.
Tucker and I climbed up the path, and hoped we would find a quick path back down to the beach. Unfortunately, the road took us away from the cliff and deeper into the Nature Conservancy’s land. (Dear Nature Conservancy, please create a legitimate route for those us wanting to see the lighthouse to go up onto the bluff and back down again to the beach so we don’t traipse through the land you’re conserving. Thank you!)
If humans didn’t exist would Nature be so beautiful? Of course it would. The natural state of the world is beautiful, even the spaces where the only domesticated ones to experience it are cows and the few ranch hands who patrol every now and again.
Side query: Why does every abandoned government property look like the zombie apocalypse just happened?
Finally, at the top of the hill, next to an abandoned building with a satellite dish on it, and under the hum of the wind through the electrical wires, I looked over the wall and finally found that which we walked for:
I recalled some photos online of people on the stairs, but at this juncture, I wasn’t going down with the obvious consequence of having to walk all the way back up again. I wasn’t tired from walking six miles, but my leg muscles were getting delayed in their response for movement that I requested. We still had five and a half miles to get back and the wind was starting its offensive against us. I thought it was battling with us only because we were high on the bluffs.
Three-quarters of a mile later, we found one. Still a little windy, but no flies.
And an excellent view—if his eyes were open.
We took in the scene on our way back. Even though we had walked this path before, we had not seen it from this perspective. Sometimes you have to remember that: where you aren't is the the place you see, but the space you inhabit and experience the world from, and that makes all the difference.
Tucker napped for another hour in car until we arrived at my second spot of adventure for us. Being the start of summer, and only a mile off course of our drive home, how could I not stop here?
Tucker allowed me a moment to sit and sip a glass of wine, but soon wanted more than just a spot on the floor.
Tucker was not pleased and felt it very un-dog friendly of the place. How uncivilized to not allow him in a proper chair.
We soon headed out and were back at our place before night fully darkened the skies.
Within twelve hours, we had driven up part of the coast of California, walked 11 miles along the beach, visited a lighthouse, trespassed on two different properties to get there, met a few dogs, saved a child’s kite, climbed on fossilizing trees, got sand in our hair & fur, took in the clean ocean air, enjoyed a glass of vino at a winery, and drove back down the coast with the sun setting behind us.
I suppose we don’t necessarily have to be away from home overnight to have adventures.
Don’t worry about waiting up for us; we might very well be home before dark.