Eureka – Finding California

The Sea – part 4

No Man is an Island.

The van came screeching, then skidding to a halt in a cloud of gravel and dust.  Boards and bodies flung forward in disarray, we slowly emerged and determined that we were, in fact, still alive.  Apparently someone decided this road should make a hard left turn directly adjacent to a fabulous view of the ocean.  On an ordinary day this can be problematic but on a glassy afternoon with a clean swell running, it almost proved disastrous. Fortunately there was a gravel driveway extending exactly in the direction the road had been going, so that the driver with his eyes fixed on the ocean didn’t even have to try to turn on to the driveway as he suddenly veered off the road.  It may be more accurate to say the road was at fault for suddenly veering out from under the sketchy windowless van.  We brushed off and congratulated one another, piled back in the van, and continued down the coast.

As evening approached, we knew we’d have to sleep somewhere.  One campground was full, and another wanted 25 bucks just to park the van overnight.  This would not do.  We parked on a quiet street in a small coastal town, and grabbed our sleeping bags and headed to the ocean. Nobody wanted to sleep in that van anyway. It smelled. Just down the bluff, if you timed it right between waves you could hop across a small pile of rocks and scamper up to a good sized rock island.  We didn’t have wood for a fire, but we sat around into the evening talking story and enjoying our claim to the island, surrounded by the sea in wonderful way.  We’d all been hassled in the middle of the night at one time or another and told to move on by various rangers and authorities, but there’d be none of that here. The sea was our protection.

Huddling down in my bag, though, I thought I was gonna freeze. It got cold out there.  It didn’t help that I had no money for good gear in those days so my bag was a hand-me-down from a friend who slept to close to a fire and woke up with hot coals melting away his bag.  He later patched it with duck tape, and after realizing it just wasn’t cutting it anymore he gave it me. I was stoked. It was way better than just wrapping up in an old blanket.  But this night it was all the same. I don’t think I slept.  I just watched the shivering moon trace it’s coarse across the sky, knowing that soon after it set, the sun would be up. The sound of the seabirds beginning a new day, with the promise of the warmth it would bring, was the best thing I’d ever heard.

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