All aboard Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner…breathing lighter into a new week.

 

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Autumn in Southern California is defined by cool, often foggy mornings, very warm, if not blazing days, and the closing out with very cool evenings. As the days grow shorter I do enjoy the warmth of an extra blanket on the bed, although, would it surprise you to know that we sleep with the French doors open all night? There are advantages to endless summers.

And to me, summer–even in October–is beach time.

I refer to the ocean, and specifically a day of sitting on the beach, as “my happy place,” and I’m always eager to plan a day to let the cares of life just sit somewhere else and wait for my return.

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What if we took the train to drop us off right at the San Clemente Pier?

 

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Sophia, Karina, Papa and Nan boarded Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, leaving Los Angeles Union Station heading south to the Orange County beach city of San Clemente for a day at the beach without a concern about watching other people on the road or competing for prime parking space.

Despite the warm days the crowds aren’t as fierce in the Autumn months and we can sit and watch the surfers–young and old–soaking up the rays. The waves were calm, but that didn’t deter them from trying.

 

And then there were the other creatures that look for their food along the shore.

 

The day was perfect. The girls could swim–or at least splash around quite a bit–look for itty-bitty sand crabs…

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And at the end of a long day, all we had to do was get right back on the train and head for home.

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We will be doing this again!

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And not a drop to drink…unless you’re a Pinniped

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I wasn’t really ready to come home from the Central Coast. Last weekend we headed north to the serenity and beauty of Cambria, mesmerized by the rugged coastline nestled within a forest of coastal pines and spectacular ocean views–and quiet.

In the Los Angeles/Pasadena area where I live–the San Gabriel Valley–early fall often brings temperatures higher than we experience in summer’s July. Accordingly, October is “fire season” and it’s not uncommon to hear locals comment about the “feel” of earthquake weather. There is no such thing, but there is something in barometric pressure or terrarium-like cloud covers or perhaps the squeeze that comes with unrelenting heat that brings a certain jumpiness.

Cambria was calling me. Notice the beautiful sunshine of the day and the fog rolling in with the evening.

I have said quite enough about our drought conditions, I’m sure, but while in Cambria we experienced a few new shifts in awareness and convenience that seem worth conveying.

This was the first time we visited the area and continually thought of Coleridge.

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

The Central Coast is experiencing severe drought. Residents are saddled with extreme personal water usage restrictions and struggle against the rationing with an economy dependent upon tourism, naturally leading to greater water usage. The future is uncertain. It makes me jumpier than the heat, quite frankly.

We were encouraged to re-use towels and not expect a routine change in sheets.  The coffee cups and water glasses were replaced by disposable paper. After years of being cautious about what we add to the landfills, depleting water sources makes that a very secondary concern. And in a fine dining establishment we were offered water bottles (think landfill again) and charged a nominal fee. It costs too much to wash the glassware and is too expensive in other ways to offer drinking water to thousands of tourists. It is risky business.

The coastal beauty of Hwy 1, San Diego in the lower south through Mendocino County all the way at the top of the state, is what I call my “happy space” and I never travel without thanking the State of California and the Coastal Commission for its many protections. California is highly protective of preserving the beauty of the coast and guards against development. It remains as pristine as possible.

So when we talk about desalination plants, I have to wonder. All this ocean….water…is it a resource? If we don’t learn how to live within the confines of water restriction even in times of sufficient seasonal rainfall, what course will we be forced to take? What is advancement?

“Will California — like Israel, Saudi Arabia and other arid coastal regions of the world — finally turn to the ocean to quench its thirst? Or will the project finally prove that drinking Pacific seawater is too pricey, too environmentally harmful and too impractical for the Golden State?” 

At this point all we can do is observe. I also pray for rain. And I totally, completely, unreservedly appreciate the beauty that we have and I enjoy sharing some of the little surprises you might not anticipate.

These elephant seals aren’t sitting around waiting for rain, are they? Do they seem worried?

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The Northern Elephant Seal Rookery at Piedras Blancas, just north of Cambria, is a wonderful stop along Highway 1. There are approximately 20,000 elephant seals at Piedras Blancas, but they aren’t all there at any given time.

Once nearly extinct because of hunting for blubber and oil during the 18th and 19th centuries, some saying the population was down to a mere 50 elephant seals, there are now breeding colonies from Baja to British Columbia. There are four major California mainland sites, and this is one of the best for close viewing.

From December through February numbers will increase during mating season, and I’d love to return in mid-February as the females wean their pups.

Turkey Vultures are vigilant sentinels along this stretch of beach. I don’t think I want to know.

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Next post I’ll take you with me to “The Enchanted Hill.”

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Hearst Castle is a wonderful way to escape the concerns of reality. What a place for fantasy–an excellent way to breathe lighter.

Enjoy your “weekend exhale,” my friends. It’s a beautiful, warm and sunny day here today–big surprise. Sun! But it is cooler and should be a lovely weekend. And I do love weekends!

Inhale the sea air, Exhale the week’s hurry…and Breathe Lighter

After a week of temperatures hitting six to ten degrees above the century mark, we headed to the coast to unwind and cool off in one of the central coast’s charming and beautiful little towns.  Cambria has been a favorite of ours for decades and is just a a few short hours north of home, a mere hop-skip and jump from Morro Bay–where we enjoy our yearly family reunion. 

Some people prefer to unplug for the weekend. I have had so little available time during the week I thought this weekend would also serve as an opportunity to plug-IN. I was looking forward to some time tonight for on-line visiting. However, the Internet is so slow that I’m fairly sure the Universe is giving me the distinct and unmistakeable message that it’s time to sit back and listen to the sound of the ocean and tune out all other distractions. I can do that!

I took many photos today at Moonstone Beach, but since I can’t seem to upload any more, these will do as a tease for future posts. To my friends at home who have sweltered along with me all week, I was going to show you photos of the fog that rolled in around 6 PM. I didn’t even complain that the fog obscured the sunset. It was beautiful and damp–I was actually cold!

Tomorrow we’re headed up the coast just a couple of miles to San Simeon and taking a history tour of Hearst Castle. I will have lots to talk about when I get home.

Tonight I’m breathing lighter enjoying fresh air–a wonderful break from non-stop air-conditioning.  If we could only bottle this air! The sound of the waves is a pretty good lullaby as well. Can I just stay here?

Enjoy your weekend, too, my friends. Remember to exhale…