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California Dreamin'

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

I have a love/hate relationship with the state of California. It is an amazing place in terms of geographical diversity, but there are just too many people there for my taste. So it was with some trepidation that I recently traveled with my wife to meet my cousin at Salt Point State Park, on the California coast.

As we drove south my fears were quickly realized. Our route took us down I-5, not a big deal. We exited to head over to the Clear Lake area, where we would turn south. The road from Clear Lake to Calistoga was a nightmare – two lane hairpin turns over a pass with a continuous stream of oncoming traffic (and the same, it seemed, going our way). Where were all these people coming from, and where were they going?

We approached the coast at dusk, finally eluding the crowds. We found my cousin Lisa, and spent two and a half idyllic days at Salt Point, where a ten minute walk took us from our campsite to a rugged point of rocks overlooking the Pacific. Being mid-week in early February, almost no one was there, and the weather was fabulous. (Well, as a photographer I would have enjoyed a bit of fog or mist, but I toughed out the sunshine!) After a few days Lisa headed back to the Bay area, where she lives, and we wandered north along the coast for several more days.

Perhaps the highlight of our trip was a morning spent on the headlands of Mendocino and Russian Gulch. A local we talked to there informed us that it was a “king tide.” That, combined with strong winds the day before, created powerful waves that broke violently on the featured cliffs. I would estimate that the water level rose and fell perhaps fifty feet as the waves crashed and then receded. It was one of the most awe-inspiring natural phenomena that I have ever witnessed.

I usually leave California saying that I’ll never return, but this time I returned home wanting more.

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