Ocean: A body of water occupying two-thirds of a world made for man – who has no gills.
– Ambrose Pierce
Ah yes, the ocean. That great swath of blue and green that seems to go on for miles. Time literally stops when you’re walking on the sand, and it seems as though you could stroll on forever, your eyes constantly scanning the waves as the tide laps at your feet. Or maybe it’s just your underused calf muscles screaming at you. Maybe it just SEEMS like a lifetime since you began your unending journey. Maybe all that seaweed sloshing around your ankles, like some sort of slimy ball and chain, is slowing you down. Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, where the ding dang did we start from? The pier? THAT pier? That tiny toothpick tower that now appears 12 miles away?! And then you begin thinking, I can’t possibly carry on, I cannot conceivably take another step. I’m going to collapse, in a weathered heap, right here, next to this dead pelican. People will stop and say, oh, the poor unfortunate thing, and try to pluck feathers from your head. It is in this instant, your epiphany appears. You regain your strength. You CAN and must press on. Your legs become weightless, your stride grows longer, you suck in great gulps of salty air, and finally, after climbing endless cement steps…you stop. The Holy Grail awaits you. That sweet elixir of life to tempt and tease you, the burn in your throat that pops the eyes, opens the nasal passages, and gives you the will to FACE THE SURF ONCE AGAIN! You smile as your cowering “let’s-take-the-dogs-to-the-beach-it-will-be-fun” roommate pours you a second shot of Cuervo, and prays you don’t pummel her into the nearest sand dune.
Marlin: Now, what’s the one thing we have to remember about the ocean?
Nemo: It’s not safe.
Marlin: That’s my boy.
– Finding Nemo
Yes, we took the dogs to the beach. Yes, it was an experience. Yes, I’m still picking the sand out of my teeth. It appears that a trip to the beach has changed a lot since I was a kid. It appears to be a bigger production than I remember. It appears to require a whole lot more packing. And I mean a LOT. Gone are the days of just throwing your bathing suit on, grabbing a Frisbee and tossing Fido in the car. These are the days of loading up 12 fluffy towels, 4 pairs of shorts, sweats, jackets, socks, sneakers, sunscreen, CD’s, doggie toys, doggie kibble, doggie treats, 9 pairs of flip-flops, extra T.P., the Thomas Guide, the camera, and the sunglasses. Oh, and the hats. I don’t remember wearing a lot of hats as a kid, but that was long before I discovered that just a couple hours under the searing sun is a welcome mat on my chin for one ugly cold sore. Yeesh. And let’s not forget the ice chest, crammed to within an inch of it’s breaking point with water, sodas, cheese, salami, cocktail fixin’s, and our good friend Jose. Plus the bag of Wheat Thins, Triscuits, and granola bars. Yes, it’s obvious the coconut doesn’t fall too far from the palm tree, as Cinderella-the-packing-challenged was channeling Margaret a couple weekends ago…except for the big plastic tubs. It’s hard to fathom that 2 dippy blondes and a couple of wacky mutts could need so much frickin’ STUFF for a single day trip. But in hindsight, we should have packed more tequila.
On vacations: We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings. – Erma Bombeck
And so with two four-legged beasts in the backseat, hanging their heads out the windows, ears a flyin’ and lips a flappin’, we began our Beach Blanket Bingo on wheels. Of course we had to make several stops before even TOUCHING the freeway, because, well, we had to. We had to get batteries for the camera, Cinderella had to gulp her 140-degree-white-chocolate-Starbucks-concoction-with-a-double-shot, and I had to scarf down an Egg McMuffin before I got cranky(er). Soon we were careening down the road at breakneck speed, with Cinderella at the wheel, and yours truly assuming DJ duty. I’m not sure if Boo and the Pork Chop appreciated our scary impersonation of drunken Karaoke wenches on American Idol, but considering they kept their furry faces OUTSIDE the entire trip, I can only assume they were hoping Simon Cowell would just show up and put an end to the whole dreadful thing. A couple pit stops and 3 hours later, we landed in the lovely and scenic town of Pismo Beach, where the bougainvillea bloom in gigantic fuchsia bunches, and the pelicans wheel around in great and glorious groupings. http://www.classiccalifornia.com/ Then to the pier we headed, mutts in tow, a vast expanse of sand before us. Sand for days. I’m talking a TREMENDOUS amount of sand. Walking in the sand is like trying to trudge to shore with a huge pachyderm strapped to your shoulders…in a tar pit…in the Sahara…with cement blocks attached to your feet. It’s slow and steady and extremely discouraging, especially when a five year old comes hurtling past you like Forrest Gump, a bucket in his hand, a shovel under his arm…a hotdog, a soda, an ice cream cone…and a Dumbo backpack. You curse the sand in your eyes, between your toes, tangled in your nose hairs and under your fingernails. You hate its enormity. You abhor its grittiness. You despise its sharpened edges. But when that same five year old slips on a gull turd, and performs the finest face plant this side of the Rockies…well…sand…good…sand…friend…
You can tell all you need to about a society from how it treats animals and beaches.
– Frank Deford
It’s truly amazing how a canine critter reacts to the ocean, especially on his maiden voyage. There must be a thousand different thoughts sifting through his Milk-Bone-adled brain, as he sniffs and whiffs, and has his senses pulled in a million directions at once. Who ARE all these people? What’s all this stuff? Can I chew this? Can I chase that? Hey, is that for me? I need to pee here. I think I’ll poop there. Whose poop is THAT? That’s not MY poop. Yes, it’s Short-Attention-Span-Theatre when the dogs are out barking, running, drooling, whizzing, and leaving no shell unturned. Speaking of which, I think the little Civic was about 12 pounds heavier on our return trip, as Cinderella was bound and determined to collect every single, solitary, itty-bitty, shell, rock, pebble, and sand-dollar piece on the West Coast. “Oh Madge! Look! A rock! A GREEN rock! Have you ever seen such a thing? Oh, we HAFTA, HAFTA take this shell home! It’s so beautiful! It’s white! Oh my goodness, a WHITE shell! Can you believe it? OH MY GAWD BECKY! A sand dollar! A WHOLE sand dollar! HOORAY! It’s gorgeous! It’s amazing! It’s the best thing ever! Eeeww, it’s still alive! It’s moving! It’s nasty! It’s fuzzy! It’s disgusting! Don’t touch it! Bleah! Gross! Can we take it home?” Soon after amassing this prized collection of sea creatures, rambling the shoreline, noshing on Fish n’ Chips, apologizing profusely to WELL-behaved pet owners, and watching the poor Boo dog heave up 97 gallons of salt water, it was time to hit the proverbial road. Again. In search of more sand.
Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn’t happen. – Stephen Wright
So even though I was spent and the mutts were snoring into the upholstery, Cinderella’s energy was boundless, and the happy Honda landed on the breezy doorstep of Morro Bay. http://www.morro-bay.net/ Well, after the endless meandering of side streets and city blocks, and being forced to ask some amused locals exactly WHICH freeway we needed. Was it 101 to 227? Was it 41 to 146? Was it a hop, skip, and a jump? A stone’s throw? As the crow flies? As the moon rises? As the sun sets? As the world turns? All I know is that by the time we got there, I was ready for a snooze, the dogs were ready to hibernate, and Cinderella…well, she was ready for The Rock. “Oh my lord and little fishes! Do you see it? There it is! It’s the rock! It’s MORRO ROCK! Get a picture! Did you get it? Get me in it! Am I in it? Did you get that bird? That plant? The sunset? Did you get it? Hey, YOU get in it!” As my eyes slowly rolled into the back of my head, and the salt spray began to burn my chapped lips, I marveled at the sheer unabashed joy that is my goofy roommate. She did cartwheels, tormented seagulls, scaled rocks, laughed, screamed, and ran barefoot through the turquoise foam. I know what you’re thinking. She doesn’t get out much. And you’d be right. But be that as it may, it’s nice to see there are some things from childhood that we never truly abandon. Like building sand castles. Like collecting seashells. Like jumping waves, running from the tide, chasing birds…and acting like a five year old. Just watch out for the gull poop.
There is nothing so desperately monotonous as the sea, and I no longer wonder at the cruelty of pirates.
– James Russell Lowell