Saturday, July 2, 2011

By the Beautiful Sea 2011

 On Tuesday Joe and I flew over to visit my aunt and uncle in Corona del Mar, Orange County, CA. We left as the temperature was climbing to 115 in Tucson and arrived on a cool (mid-70s) and beautiful sunny day - we could smell the sea air as soon as we stepped out of the airport!
On Wednesday my aunt and uncle generously insisted we take their car to go do the tourist thing, and they didn't exactly have to twist our arms. We always enjoy going down to Laguna Beach but this time, in a spirit of exploration, we drove through  LB and headed farther south, though not too far. At Dana Point the highway seemed to run out, literally, so rather than get on Interstate 5 we decided to explore what had become Las Ramblas Drive (or Road, or something) to its dead end, where we found a trailhead leading up a hill that promised interesting views. It was time for a hike!
These thistles are prickly and probably non-native, but they have their own beauty, I think (and they made me want an artichoke - one of their cousins - for dinner!).  One of my favorite novels, Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, has a supernatural and not very nice character called "the man with the thistledown hair." Well, here's some thistledown. Lovely, isn't it? It's easy to imagine what a headful of such hair would look like.
At last we neared the top
and looked down the other side
to where too many people live in too many houses rushing all the way down to the sea. But it's not hard to see why so many people want to live there, especially on such a gorgeous day. We enjoyed the view for a while and then (temporarily) turned our backs on all that civilization and started back down.
On the way up, the trail reminded me of these lines from Christina Rossetti (though she wrote them in an entirely different metaphorical context):
Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

In the next picture you'll see the end of the road, where we parked; if you can pick it out, the tiny little dot on the far left of the wider road on the left is my uncle's car, so you can see it was a bit of a climb, especially as we circled the hill rather than going straight up, choosing the longer rather than the much steeper trail (though we did take the steeper trail going down, which in retrospect wasn't terribly smart). 
 We were hungry by the time we got back to the car (no surprise) so we stopped at a grocery store, bought a big deli Greek salad and some sushi, and ate our picnic on a park bench at the Dana Point harbor. Then we walked some more, around the shops and up and back the full length of the harbor and all its marinas, which are lovely but would be more interesting if 99.9% of the boats weren't painted white.
We tossed pennies into the water for luck, and I wondered what the story was behind the cell phone down there in the water. Maybe its owner's luck had run out somehow . . . .
The nicest part of our walk was the park that runs parallel to the breakwater,

where people were enjoying the water, where I learned that Dana Point is named for Richard Henry Dana, Jr., who wrote the classic Two Years Before the Mast (which I've never read, but now I think I will),
and where we made the acquaintance of several of the dramatically colored Dana Point population of California ground squirrels. Some of these friendly little guys are almost entirely white, while others are more like pinto ponies or appaloosas, and they're not afraid of people at all, no doubt because they're used to being fed. I felt guilty that we'd eaten all our lunch and had nothing to offer them.
Feeling relaxed and refreshed by the cool sea breeze, and having fallen in love with Dana Point for its charm, its relatively small size, and its relative lack of pretension, we headed back the way we had come, stopping for a while in Laguna Beach on the way, but I'm afraid you'll have to wait at least until tomorrow for the second half of that day's adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. Happy you were able to get a way from the heat.