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Monday, September 5, 2016

Beach Bliss

California is a beautiful place! What joy to be reminded of the beauty that I grew up as Doug and I spent a couple of days out of the desert heat and enjoyed the refreshment of the California coast.
I cannot remember the last time I spent time languishing in my beach chair on Newport Beach. My mind was filled with nostalgia as I remembered childhood beach days with the whole family followed by many, many summer days as a teenager spent in pursuit of the perfect tan!
I have to say that the water was surprisingly warm. I love to swim in the sea, bouncing around in the surf, making feeble attempts to catch a wave. My body surfing skills are not what they used to be! Equally enjoyable was sitting in my little beach chair, listening to the surf come in and out, watching skilled surfers enjoy the waves with an occasional wipe out. Miles and miles of beautiful sandy beach. After enjoying the privilege of traveling to so many different seasides, I had forgotten how special the beaches of my childhood really are.
We took a nice drive down the Balboa peninsula our first evening there. We were surprised to see the community of fishermen reeling in mackerel as fast as they could! The lit shoreline looked lovely after dark. 
We awoke to a typical morning fog so decided to do some exploring by car.
The S.S. Minnow, heading out for a 3 hour cruise.
 (Gilligan's island humor for non-Americans.)
We ventured down to Corona Del Mar, a stunningly beautiful beach area where cliffs, rock formations and tide pools are on offer. This is as beautiful a coastline as any I've seen, not to mention the multi-million dollar properties that graced the hillside surrounding the beach. It was such a joy to climb on the rocks, gaze out across the beach, listen to the surf crashing along the shoreline. Too bad we weren't there in the evening so we could build a fire in the fire rings, a favorite thing to do as a child.
At about 11.00 a.m. the morning mist burned off so we headed back to Newport to enjoy another afternoon on the beach. That evening, after dinner, we walked to the Newport Pier and enjoyed watching the setting sun over the Pacific. 
For our last day, we had made plans with some friends who live in Seal Beach, an area of the Southern CA coastline I have not spent much time. We first met Jeff and Alba when they were pastors of the American International Church in London, the same church where we spent the past year. They are still quite active in International church ministry and we've appreciated connecting with them through the years. 
After a seafood buffet lunch where there was more food than could be consumed in a life time, we took the Aqua Link over to Long Beach. For a mere $5.00 we were treated to a beautiful ferry ride across the Pacific. We even saw a dolphin! We landed in a beautiful area of Long Beach that has been "re-invented" with a lovely lighthouse and the Queen Mary ship highlighting the area. Always fun to wander around a seaside town. We stopped and enjoyed some refreshments before taking the ferry back to Seal Beach.
Our little beach getaway ended with a very fun evening at the retirement village where Jeff and Alba live. In the outdoor amphitheater, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, twin sons of the famed Ricky Nelson and grandsons of the iconic Ozzie Nelson were holding a tribute concert. It was great to be taken back to my early childhood, watching episodes of the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, swooning over Ricky Nelson's adorably pretty looks and enjoying some decent old time music. It was delightful to watch the mostly retired crowd enjoy the nostalgia.
We were happy to skip over the traffic while driving back to the desert. We were home a mere 1 hour and 45 minutes later. I marvel at the climate and landscape diversity that all lies within 2 hours of the desert. I was reminded once again why I love so California so much...beach, mountains, and desert all within 100 miles of the other. Beauty abounds and I'm thankful we were able to soak it in.