After weeks of a wonderfully mild summer, the heat slammed us yesterday with temperatures of 108 and high humidity. There was no option but to pack up, stop for picnic supplies and head to the beach.
When I was a little girl my dad would take us to Treasure Cove several times over the summer. The whole area is now Crystal Cove State Park, but in those days it was just a horse ranch on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean along the Orange County coast. My dad would wake us before daybreak announcing to all that it was a beach day and get ready: which meant put on your bathing suit, your Keds and get into the big green Buick. We’d arrive just as light was dawning where my dad would jump out and unlatch the gate into the ranch and drive in to a small parking area. Years later there was a bucket at the gate and he would deposit a dollar for the parking. Many times hands were out with the horses and would wave hello as we kicked up dust along the dirt road. The road is paved now, the ranch and horses gone. Yesterday it cost us $15 for day parking.
Getting down to the beach was a big ordeal which usually included tears. My dad would carry my little sister and brother while my other sister and I followed along behind him on the steep narrow trail. I don’t remember how my mother got down there. I was too scared to pay attention as to how she got down. My parents, and I, didn’t know then that because I only had vision in one eye, the climb down was treacherous as I couldn’t (and still can’t) judge depth perception. Most of my climb down was on my butt and in tears. Now there are stairs and handrails to guide us down.
Once on the beach my dad would prepare us a feast. He’d hand us a warm tortilla filled with eggs, beans and chorizo while my mother poured us milk or juice. Once our bellies were full and we’d warmed up, off came our sweaters and Keds and into the ocean we ran. I remember only coming out for lunch or to explore the tide pools at low tide. This was OUR special beach and when we’d run into family friends there I always felt as they had come to visit us at the beach. It didn’t occur to me that they might be there just to enjoy the beach for themselves!
Our last family outings there were in my teen years where it became more important to be wearing the cutest bikini and eyeing the cute boys on the beach. In those days I would set my towel far away from my family and turn up my transistor radio to the most popular station on the AM dial. It was a pink radio…so cute.
Yesterday Rudy and I went down for the evening. We splashed in the surf and walked along the beach. We watched the sun go down while eating a luscious dessert of cheesecake with cherry topping. It is still my beach and I can still see my family there on the beach. I see my dad blowing up surf riders for us kids and my mom under her big hat and umbrella. I see my sister and I up on top the big rocks getting our sneakers soaked. I see the red coleman cooler box with our lunch and the little grill where my dad fixed our morning breakfast and evening hot dogs. And on the cliffs above I see the little girl I was; clinging to the rock cliff as she makes her way down. It was a beautiful evening.