My wife and I recently took a week’s vacation at Encinitas in southern California, about 75 miles north of San Diego airport. Vacationing with us were her two daughters and her son-in-law.
Diary, Friday May 19
Up betimes to catch flight…airport security is such a hassle it’s a wonder anyone flies anymore. Nevertheless, this old timer still marvels at the amazement of flight.
Snarled in bumper-to-bumper traffic leaving San Diego…Stopped for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the Del Mar racetrack.
Walked to Encinitas Moonlight Bay beach. Lovely scene, waves rolling in majestically. Slim youth playing beach volleyball. They made me wish I were young and athletic again.
Diary, Saturday May 20
In Moonlight Bay overlook park a group was enjoying breakfast al fresco…A few young women spread out beach towels to sunbathe…Surfers paddle out to sea, catch and ride waves to shore—if they don’t wipe out.
Watched through sunglasses from our condo at Moonlight Lane and C Street as the sun plunged into the Pacific. Big, round orb dropping slowly, slowly, then just a speck of sun before disappearing.
Walked up the steps, across the road, to the tiny overlook park. It’s visited from dawn to dusk by people eager to see the wonderful sea sight…Streams of happy visitors walking to the beach. Even grandmothers trudge the concrete slope to the beach.
Two cleanup girls entered park with bag to pick up trash thoughtless people toss on the ground rather than carry it to trash cans steps away.
Security car drove by our condo followed soon by a sheriff’s car. Coastal helicopters often fly past the beach. The City of Encinitas spends mucho for safety of guests.
Girl-watching here is magnificent–a constant pleasure all day.
Sunday May 21
Early mornings here are, to quote the great writer Snoopy, “dark and gloomy,” before the sun dissolves the fog.
My wife’s son-in-law and I walked barefoot into the sea. Brrr! But “jolly good” fun, as Brits say…Preparations are underway for an outdoor wedding in the park. The site is a more glorious setting than any church or cathedral in the world provides. A drone flew over the wedding group to photograph the party scene…Men with blowers cleaned the beach debris.
Ravens, with their fierce beaks and widespread black tails, nest in palm trees here. They remind me of Edgar Allen Poe’s poetic ode with its refrain, “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore.’ ”)
A mom on the way to the beach kneeled to photograph her toddler while dad stood guard.
Monday May 22
As I was strolling over the beach I saw a young man, walking with his parents, wearing a Penn State jersey. I paused at the sharp reminder that I was an ancient graduate of Penn State University. (1953)
Our Condo toilet is terribly low with no bars to help old folks get up. Shower and sink spigots puzzeling since they are reversed from those in Sparks-Reno and shower has nothing to grip. And, there’s no light in the refrigerator. No wonder my wife and I were ready to go home after just three days.
Moonlight Bay seemed so empty after weekend hordes.
Tuesday May 23
Stopped at the Ashram (Self-Realization Retreat) to visit the beautiful Meditation Gardens. Goldfish ponds. Gnarled tree. Varied cactuses, some pointed, some straight as poles.
Palm trees everywhere. Many hidden corners for meditation. I meditated in my fashion, folding my arms across my chest, closing my eyes and relaxing completely while sitting on a stone bench. Watched real meditators sitting silently as I turned “hidden” corners.
Actually, the visit was a stroll down memory lane. My wife and I had previously visited Encinitas twice. On one stay I saw a gorgeous whooping crane in overlook park–tall, white, magisterial.
Wednesday May 24
Moonlight Bay park attendants trimmed the big palm by the steps using a huge crane–a gigantic skyhook.
Drama: four dolphins riding the waves toward shore. (Fortunately, no lurking great white sharks.)…Lo, I beheld an “unidentified flying object,” a small hawk perched on the rail at the corner of the overlook. It had a white throat and white forehead. (Peregrine falcon?) The hawk-falcon was constantly being dive-bombed by ravens. Fascinating to watch.
Thursday May 25
American white pelicans frequently fly up and down the shoreline. Gulls are common here, either on the beach or flying by.
Bench behind beach-ball courts carries a moving dedication to a surfer who drowned here in the nearby ocean: “Donn Bauer, May 26, 1935-Oct. 23, 2015. We will never forget you.”
Several tiny tots took turns chasing pigeons on the beach…Kids hung on playground swings, their bare feet dangling in the sand.
My buddy, our vacationing group’s designated driver, and I hiked the nearby nature trail. Passing Cottonwood Creek, we spotted two handsome snowy egrets—a perfect ending to a memorable week.
Jake Highton is an emeritus professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)