Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Girl Who Couldn't Find The Ocean

My friend Nancy who I was cat-sitting for recently, had a decorative starfish lying on her coffee table.

Realizing I had not been to the ocean in months, and also knowing I had a free Sunday coming up, I decided that I would have my next beach day.

I always drive to either San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, or somewhere else South on Hwy 1, but this time I wanted to go to a beach I’d never been to before. I wanted to curl up in a coffee shop and stare at the ocean. Did that mean I would have to go back to the Chit Chat CafĂ© in Pacifica? Surely, there must be another beach, I thought.

Rachel, another friend of mine, suggested I head north to the Pt. Reyes area. She marveled about Pt. Reyes Station and the little town of Inverness. I had never been to that area and she told me that the town had bay beaches. Well, I can already see the bay from the freeway where I live and so I asked her how far the ocean beaches were from Pt. Reyes. She didn’t think they were that far, so I made a date for me and Pt. Reyes for that following Sunday, June 26th.

I started to get excited at the thought of collecting seashells on the beach and putting sand in a jar to bring back to my apartment. I officially had summer fever and was ready for my next beach adventure.

But that Sunday came quickly and I just couldn’t get out of the apartment soon enough and next thing I knew I was heading for the coast at 2:50pm. “That’s fine,” I thought, “after all, it is summer and there will be daylight until 8:30,” I assured myself.

Well, Rachel had warned me not rely on my GPS for directions and to have the location mapped out in advance because cell phone reception was spotty in the Pt. Reyes area. I totally remembered this important point. As I was getting on the freeway, that is.

“I’ll just pull over somewhere when I finally get to my desired freeway exit,” I told myself. It shouldn’t be a problem…

I exited on Lucas Valley Road off of hwy 101 and made a left. I drove West on a windy road for about 5 miles before I pulled over into a residential area and got out my trusty smart phone. I found some directions, read them quickly and headed back out. About another five miles later, I came to a fork in the road and made a right. After driving another few miles in that direction with no sight of the ocean anywhere I pulled over again.

I checked my directions and sure enough I discovered that I needed to make a left at that fork so I spun back around.  Another 5 miles or so later I finally arrived in the small town of Olema. It looked promising. “Perhaps I will come back here,” I thought. But I still didn’t see the ocean.

I drove a few more miles, passed the town of Inverness and finally made it to Pt. Reyes. It was a cute town, but I could not smell the ocean air. I pulled over into a Mexican restaurant and asked for the nearest ocean beach.

A man with a heavy accent paused for a minute. He suggested that I back track to the town of Inverness and head that way. I got back in my car and drove back about a half mile and made a right at the sign that read "Inverness". I drove through the town and I saw bay beaches, but again, no ocean. I kept driving thinking I would run into it. When that didn’t happen a few miles later, I spun back around again and headed back to the town of Olema.

I was hungry and entered “The Farmhouse” for a bite to eat and some inspiration. It was getting to be 5pm by now. I talked to one of the waiters about my hunger for food and ocean waves. At this point, he pulled out a map. Duh, why didn’t I think of that?

“Ocean? Well, Drakes Beach is about 45 minutes from here…”


“But Limantour Beach is about 20 minutes..”

He explained to me that there were no “ocean beach towns” because the beaches are protected from pesky developers and that’s why all the towns are inland.

NOW you tell me!

At this point I couldn’t think about driving another 20 minutes, so I sat down, took his map, ate a bowl of clam chowder and physically refueled. Once recharged, I got back on the road and it was now nearly 6pm, but the sun was still out and I was NOT LEAVING until my face saw some waves.

At Limantour Beach there were still a few cars in the parking lot when I finally pulled in at 6:20pm. I grabbed my coat, phone and water bottle and walked the beaten path to my final destination.

I passed people heading back from the beach and as far as I knew I was the only one walking towards the water. I started to feel a little isolated as dramatic dark thoughts passed through my mind…..

“Her car was found in the Limantour Beach parking lot after midnight…”

“She was last spotted in the sleepy little town of Olema around 5:30pm…”

"The only information detectives could find on her were these pictures recovered from her camera phone…."

Okay, so I watch too many crime shows on television.

I finally hit the sand and saw a few beach stragglers still hanging on to the last bit of sunshine. I decided to attempt to look for sea shells, but my findings were a lot less glamorous than what you can buy at say, Pottery Barn.

Pottery Barn Sea Shells:

Actual Random Sea Junk that I found:

Abandoned Sandcastle from those who came to the beach on time:

Look ma, I made a hole!

Those who walked it before me:

When there were was no one left on the beach besides me and a woman with a guide dog, I decided to head back inland before it got dark.  But not before I took a few more shots:

As I got back into my car, I was kicking myself for not getting an earlier start.  This past Fourth of July weekend I played it safe.

Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica

The Girl Who Finally Found The Ocean