The Beach Bucket List: Crescent Bay Beach

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Next up in our beach bucket list is: Crescent Bay Beach!

The thing about Laguna Beach is that there are a zillion little beaches and almost all of them are tucked into tiny little residential neighborhoods that are super keen on keeping everyone out of their beach (it’s a losing battle). That means they are hidden and hard to find and there is never any parking nearby unless you go on a Tuesday in the middle of a rainstorm. Newsflash: it never rains in Southern California. And if it does nobody is going anywhere. It’s mayhem. Watch our local news during a rainstorm. We think rain is the end of the world, there’s no beach going during any kind of weather.

Payam decided not to come with us on this little beach jaunt. He had work to do in his shop. Joon was on vacation with her mom so that meant this beach day was for me and Bug and….Her boyfriend!

I would love nothing more than to write five paragraphs about how I feel about Bug having a boyfriend and my feminist views of teenagers dating juxtaposed against my own sheltered childhood and subsequent train-wreck of a dating life BUT this is not really something I am comfortable with so I’ll just tuck it under a rock for another day maybe twenty years in the future when I am a self-proclaimed parenting expert. Today I am decidedly NOT that expert.

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Let’s talk about Crescent Bay Beach! It’s a crescent! A lovely, little, sandy crescent roll of sunshine. It’s small and it has public restrooms, which is a total bonus for people like me who stress about things like that. The path to get down to it is short (not a thousand steps like other beaches) but there is a giant step at the bottom as if the beach lowered itself a foot or two since the asphalt path was built. This was a bit challenging for me since we brought all the gear for this beach visit: chair, umbrella, aesthetically pleasing picnic basket… Thankfully we had a big strong boyfriend to carry the picnic basket but it was still a bit tricky for me wrangling the chair and stepping down the giant step.

The kids ran off to frolic in the waves and I set up camp. It was pretty warm when we got there at about 2pm in the afternoon so I MacGyvered a sun shield out of our picnic blanket and some nearby stairs. I was quite proud of my building prowess.

Then I set up shop watercoloring! Watercoloring is my favorite thing these days.

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My new paint palettes are so pretty but they are a bit cumbersome because I have three of them. I should just take one with me and leave the other two at home but the colors are so pretty I can’t bare to! My old travel palette is really the way to go because it has all the basic colors that you mix to create the hues you want, while my new palette is pre-mixed in specific colors like: ocean, woodlands and skin tones. So you can see my dilemma: bring one palette of boring colors that mix well or THREE palettes of pretty colors! I packed the max of course and I have eyeballs on other palettes in my amazon prime shopping cart that I’d love to add to my collection. Artist problems. Maybe I should just stay home and paint. Haha! No way Jose! The best thing to do outside is paint! So pack it in I do.

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The kids were kids. They might hold hands and act all grown-up with their romance and their google eyes but they are still kids inside (they were fourteen last year!!) and they still love making sand castles and catching sand crabs. I still love making sand castles and catching sand crabs! Wait, not the sand crabs part. I’ve never loved that.

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Bug brought mason jars and made lemonade for our picnic but when the lemonade was gone, they used their jars to catch sand crabs and pretend they were drinking sea water by tossing it over their shoulder. It warms my heart to see them be silly and still act like kids.

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Even though it was really warm, the water was ice cold. Bug stayed out in the waves so long her legs went numb. To warm herself she wrapped up in our picnic sheet. That tapestry has a thousand uses.

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I tried to take as many golden hour shots as I could. It was a really pretty day.

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Payam decided to join us for dinner on the beach and he even picked up pizza for us. But then he accidentally went down the wrong path (I gave him bad directions and like I said, the neighborhoods try to keep it confusing) and he ended up in Shaw’s Cove which is the beach next to Crescent Bay Beach. On a map they look like they are right next to each other, and they are, but they are divided by steep rocky, muscle infested cliffs and tide pools that are pretty much impossible to traverse at high tide.

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But I didn’t know that so I packed up our gear and the kids and we TRIED to traverse the rocks and gullies to get to Payam. We got about 80% of the way and we could see Shaw’s Cove but we could not get there because there was a 10-foot drop onto sharp muscles below. that was impossible to pass. We tried every way we could, up, down and around but it was just too scary for me with my camera and that blasted chair and my big ol’ bag of art supplies. Finally we turned back. Payam picked us up in the car and we had our cold pizza back at home.

It was worth it though because we really felt like we had a full, complete beach day. Fun in the water, painting for me, lots of photography and even some rock-climbing and exploring! And if I wanted to get technical I could check off Shaw’s Cove on my beach bucket list. But I’m not going to because I want to go back and visit it properly.

Bug Turns 15: The Road Trip to Nowhere, Part 3

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I don’t have any pictures from our trip to Pismo Beach (because it was horrible and I was driving) but let me just describe it as this: bedlam. I was so desperate for a bathroom and there were none in sight. I pulled into town practically buckled over my steering wheel in pain only to find everything packed with people everywhere. Bug stepped up and was frantically searching for clean bathrooms on yelp. Did you know there was such a thing? I did not. Kids for the win! We found one at a convenience store but there was no place to park! I pulled into a residential driveway where two cars were parked already and I would block them in but I was desperate. No sooner had I put my car in park and started to open my door when a woman hollered over the fence from a beer garden next door (or maybe it was a bar that served outdoors) that I could absolutely NOT PARK THERE!!!! I totally understood. Her staff was parked there and they needed to do a shift change and NOT be blocked in. I was probably the fiftieth person she yelled at that day. So I swallowed my pain and got back on the road.

Fifty u-turns later, a stop at a public park bathroom that was LOCKED and nothing but traffic and people, Bug remembered a hotel her dad had taken her to on a previous trip. We knew they had no vacancy but figured they would at least let us use their lobby bathroom.  AND GUESS WHAT? HALLELUJAH THEY DID!!!

It was the nicest hotel. Five stars for sure. We wanted to stay there but not during these crazy times. There weren’t any people in the lobby and the really nice concierge told me that of course I could go downstairs and use their facilities. What a contrast to the public restroom we saw earlier that had a line of people around the block and several anti-maskers partying it up nearby. I was so happy to finally find a place all to myself in peace and quiet. I have never felt so introverted and relieved in all my life.

So here’s a little TMI thing about anxiety: having to urgently and painfully pee can be a symptom. Yes, I had good reason to naturally need to urinate but also my stress was kicking in and I was a mess. I often fret about this and it can completely ruin a good time for me. Poor Bug was so patient with me.

I remember my grandmother was the same way. When I was a kid I did a personal research project on people’s biggest fears and how they related to their nightmares and I remember my grandma telling me she often had nightmares that she was traveling and couldn’t find a bathroom. So I come by this genetically. I think of her often when I’m fretting like this. I used to the be expert on all public restrooms but now that Covid has closed so many businesses I’m at a loss.

Anyway!!! Enough about having to pee. Let’s get back to our wonderful birthday trip! That was the horrible no-good terrible part of our trip and we survived.

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We got the hell out of Dodge, I mean Pismo Beach and headed north for two more hours to Carmel. It was never my intention to go so far north but after Pismo Beach I was desperate for wide open spaces. It’s funny how some beach communities are full of rich people and others are full of hardcore partiers. Show me to the beaches that are deserted and only nature-loving artists live there and people who like to be alone. I know that’s a high ask and it’s not like I haven’t been a hard core partier myself but you get my drift. I just want to be alone with my kid on a trip and look at nature.

When we got into Carmel we found a cute little ancient hotel called The Pine Inn. It was creak-ity, (why is that not a word? am I spelling it wrong?), smelled like an old folks home and probably haunted but VERY charming. After the Kimpton we were pretty spoiled but you gotta find a safe place to sleep so this was fine by me. Our room had an old antique radiator that made super loud banging sounds at five in the morning that scared the crap out of us. Thankfully a quick google search by Bug informed us that this was perfectly normal for an 18th century hotel and there wasn’t someone downstairs trying to wake us up by banging on pipes.

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I enjoyed wandering around the deserted lobby and creaky stairs. This photo I found was super interesting.

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What a bunch of stylish old chaps, no? I know there is a ton of Ansel Adams history here. Apparently we stayed in one of the first hotels that was ever built in Carmel by the Sea. Good to know! It’s seen better days I’m sure but I kinda of felt lucky that we could stay in such a famous tourist spot and NOT be swarmed by tourists. The Il Fornaio that is attached to the hotel was closed but they did offer us a complimentary breakfast of packaged danishes, bananas, yogurt and some craptastic water that faintly tasted like coffee that I quickly dumped in a trash can outside and replaced with a proper coffee from the coffeeshop across the street.

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Then we walked down the street five or six blocks to the beach to enjoy our breakfast. Not too shabby!

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It was cold though. A stiff wind blew right over our heads and somehow blew the waves but not us. We found a log in the sun to sit on and warm up a bit.

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Then we packed up our hotel and headed off to one more spot before starting our long journey home.

Next spot: POINT LOBOS!

I was feeling a little bit nervous about being so far north and needing to get home in one day but Bug assured me that Point Lobos was well worth delaying our homeward trip, even if it meant possibly missing some plans we had back home. So off we headed. I’ve been here before with Toby when I was married and Bug has been with her dad a few years ago but my memory had faded some.

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There was no parking available in the park and not anywhere near the park. I was super worried, what does that mean? The park is full?  Bug was adamant about going. She assured me that the park was big enough that we wouldn’t run into anyone. I guess the last time her dad took her they couldn’t find parking either and hoofed it in. Well, hoofing it in was like a mile and a half!!! Normally I love a good 20K step walk but lately my hip has been giving me trouble so I was not too pleased. But Bug insisted. She is a bigger wuss than I am about walking so if she insisted it was worth walking a mile and a half to get there then it really must be something else.

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She was right.

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Point Lobos is AMAAAAAAAAZING! I don’t really even know how to properly describe it. I know the pictures will help but it was so much more. Just imagine all encompassing fresh air, color and nature coming at you full force! I think of it as a bunch of coves with jewel-like colored water splashing and crashing all around you in vibrant colors of blue and green. It’s God’s own personal crown.  It’s kind of weird when you look up the history of this beautiful place it is known for whale-killing, abalone harvesting, mining, military secrets and NOT it’s crazy beauty!!! I’m very happy that it’s preserved now.

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We walked the trails and thankfully Bug was right! There weren’t that many people. I’m not sure where they were but they weren’t on the trails we were.

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Sometimes I’m not sure which is prettier, Bug or the scenery.

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She’s growing up. That’s the hard fact.

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I’m so happy Bug is a nature-lover. She takes after her dad that way. She’s also taken up old-school film photography so that makes us all super proud.painting-in-point-lobos

I found a spot to sit and paint. Bug sat behind me and photographed. She even made a movie using my phone that I put on my instagram stories. I’ll have to find that and save it. It was really cool.

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Pretty pretty waves. Not so pretty hunch back neck.

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Hi Bug!

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Then it was time to pack up, find some lunch and start our long trip home.

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I’m so glad we were able to go on this trip. Especially now that I’m over feeling so guilty about it. Thank you for bearing with me. I’m a stress case and I let that get in the way of our enjoyment of an important mother-daughter journey. The trip was a good thing but it was also a risk. I think taking a risk like this was dangerous. Of course there were lots of ways to go and be careful but as you saw from my needing-to-find-a-restroom nightmare, even the best intentions could go haywire.

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Like hair blowing in the wind! You never know which way it’s going to go!  Hahaha. That was a lame segue but I gotta get through all these photos and put words between them!

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Or not. Just looking at pictures is nice too.

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I love this one. I title it: Small Girl in a Pandemic.  I always try to block out things like cars, people, buildings… masks and evidence of a pandemic but I know someday we will look back on these photos and the mask will mark a huge historical pinpoint. I wonder how we will change and how masks will stay with us.

Personally, I know I haven’t been sick since I started wearing masks regularly and I usually get at least one cold every season so I’m thinking I might keep my masks around for good. They work!

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But this post is not about masks. It’s about finding the good in the midst of bad. It’s about being safe and and also scared. It’s about a girl growing up into a beautiful young woman who’s mother might be a bit of a basket case. But aren’t we all these days? Aren’t we all just trying to do our best and hope we don’t have too many vulnerable spots that can be shot at with troll arrows?

Love you guys.