Ocean Waves of Pacifica

Goal: Watch waves crash into the Pacific coast
Set: 2001
Accomplished: 12.05.2004

Sierra Club newsletter editor and webmaster training brought me to San Francisco for 4 days. On each trip I take I try to set one goal (usually specific to the culture or geography of the area) to accomplish during my stay. I decided early on that my mission would be to ride a cable car. Not just ride a cable car but stand on the edge and lean out over the passing concrete with the wind in my hair as the vehicle clickety-clacks up the daunting hills. Maybe the TV show Full House had a little too much influence on my childhood.

The day of departure had arrived. I still didn’t have an opportunity to experience Frisco’s trademark. Too much time was spent indoors (not by choice). Training ended at noon. I still had a little over an hour to explore the area before catching the subway back to the airport. My plan was to walk to the Apple store and then take a short ride on a cable car.

I hung around headquarters for awhile. As I helped clean up I asked Jenny if there was anything worthwhile to see between here and the airport. Perhaps I could jump off BART at an earlier stop and see some more sights. After a brief pondering, a light bulb flashed on in Jen’s head. She knew the perfect place to spend a sunny, breezy day. Little did Jenny know she was about to make a dream come true.

We jerked our way from intersection to intersection before hitting the open freeway. In no time we were rolling down verdant hills on our way to the coast. The truck rolled to a stop on the edge of Pacifica, a small surfing community on the Pacific Ocean. I slowly opened the door and stepped into the blinding sunshine. Before me stretched the sparkling sand, and, on the edge of that, the salty ocean waves kissed the shore. A smile overcame me. There in the distance the waves rose up out of the liquid like hungry, frothy monsters. They reached their arms higher and higher as they charged towards the city. In one violent motion the waves exploded onto the jagged cliffs shooting spray high into the atmosphere. What an amazing sight!

Before wiggling our toes into the toasty sand we removed our shoes and rolled up our pant legs. A wave began to crawl up the slanted coastline and soon the water was swirling around our legs. I was surprised at how cold the water felt. Having never been in the ocean before I always presumed the water would be a pleasant lukewarm. I looked out at the many surfers bobbing beyond the breakers and admired their dedication. All were wearing wetsuits but their hands and feet were bare.

Jenny and I continued on down the shore, straddling where the land meets the sea. A few large waves crept up behind me and left my pants dripping wet. Somehow Jen managed to stay dry. We walked as far south as the rocky cliffs would allow then turned towards the sea to watch the surfers. The majority of the athletes were straddling their boards waiting for the perfect wave. Every now and then a few daredevils would slide down onto their bellies and use their windmilling arms to position the board on the face of the wave. Timing was crucial and most of the surfers couldn’t get enough speed before the wave broke. Those who did stood up on wobbly legs and caught a fast ride into shore. I longed for my kayak.

As we began our stroll back to the truck a little bird skittered ahead of us. With his beak needling the sand for tasty treats he followed the receding wave towards the ocean. A new wave formed and chased the bird back up the shoreline only to have the process repeat itself. Eating the whole way, the little bird always managed to stay just one step ahead of the frothy monster. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me.

As with every trip, my time spent in Frisco passed too quickly. I arrived at the airport wondering if I would be let on the plane. My pant legs were still soggy from the ocean surf. I made it through security with nothing more than a few stares and soon found myself crammed into an uncomfortable airline pew awaiting takeoff. Somewhere over the snow-covered hills of Utah my fingers touched my mouth and left a salty tingle on my tongue. I paused and tried to remember what I had recently eaten that would leave me with this sensation. Suddenly the realization hit me and I smiled. I had just played in the Pacific Ocean.


rich said…
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