Saturday, May 25, 2024

Seeing at sea level

I noticed stairs at a cove about a half mile from the seaside park I’ve made my day camp. “That’s a lot of stairs,” I thought, “but, come on, don’t be an old man. Give it a try. And if I have a heart attack, hey, it’s a lovely place to die.”

I took an elevation reading at the top of the bluff: 132 feet above sea level. That didn’t seem bad until I translated it into stories. About nine or ten floors in an office tower. Oh my.

On the way down I passed some heavy people taking a break from their climb. I like to think I’m in better shape than that. “I won’t worry about that right now. I’ll just enjoy this nice beach.”

It was low tide with only minimal waves. Some people were braving (or foolishing?) the cold water. A family with young kids poked around in the sand. Squadrons of pelicans glided overhead, refusing to pose for a photo. I walked to the far end of the beach and back, then just sat and enjoyed being there—both physically and mentally. I felt fresh and young. Time to do the stairs.

About a dozen steps up my left knee sent a message. “We’ve got a tendon, ligament or something thinking about quitting. Let’s take it nice and easy, okay?”

“Message received.” 

Just to prove to myself and anyone who might be watching that I wasn’t a decrepit old man, I avoided pulling on the handrail. I just ran the side of my hand along it for balance—and in case there was an emergency in the knee.

I made it up just fine, with heart rate only slightly elevated, as is normal during exercise. Yay, I’m not in horrible shape!

I used to think proper beaches needed to be mostly flat, at lest 50 yards deep, a mile or two long, and made of only powdery sand. Classic Southern California beaches. If I wanted a Beach Boys/Baywatch type beach now, I could go just down the road to a 15 mile stretch from Pismo Beach to Point Sal. If I were confident (or foolish) enough, I could even drive out onto the sand.

But now I also appreciate the small gravel and rock coves at the base of cliffs. They’re more… personal. The water is closer and the bluffs embrace you. I like them, even when I need to climb 90-something stairs back to the ordinary world.


  1. Ah, envy! Olde & phat, 'iz me. Nice photos. Water unusually clear?

  2. Beautiful beaches and ocean - glad your knees survived. :)