I am a student of Kriya Yoga and used to go to the temple and listen to the weekly inspirationals on Sundays. At one of these talks, the speaker spoke about being happy where you are. He said that if you couldn't find happiness where you are now, you wouldn't find it anywhere. He continued to say that you shouldn't wait until you go on vacation to have fun; find fun, make fun, everyday. It affected me strongly because I was tired of the snow and the cold and I was miserable. I thought the grass was greener in California (as it turns out, in December, it is!) and was certain I would be happy there.
About a year later, my life long vacation began in November 1999, when I moved to Half Moon Bay. Riding my bike on the coastal trail or walking the beach before heading to work was a great way to start the day. On the weekends I hiked at Burleigh Murray Ranch ( I saw more bobcats there then any place else on the coast thus far), Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, Montara Mountain, Pillar Point (I actually saw an octopus, picked it up and put it in the water while tide pooling), Sweeney Ridge (accessing the trail from the Shell Dance orchid greenhouse parking lot in Pacifica) or hung out at Poplar Beach. Camping at Butano and Sanborn County Park with friends and family w/little ones was loads of fun.
After a couple of years, the summer fog weighed on my spirit. I don't mind some fog; hiking or walking on the beach can be just as nice and the cool respite much appreciated, but come mid-July, it was tough. When I needed a dose of sun, I would drive to Santa Cruz. Driving down Hwy 1 is a joy in and of itself; stopping at the farm stands, buying strawberries in Pescadero, getting a treat from Whale City Bakery in Davenport or hiking at Wilder made a trip to Santa Cruz a mini-vacation and helped recharge my batteries.
Circumstances prompted a move back to Chicago for a year (maybe I had lost the "vacation" mentality). After the karma was burned, I returned to CA and lived in Monterey for a year and then Carmel for a year and a half. Boy, that was fun! Garland Ranch, Del Monte Beach and Pt. Lobos (If you're a hiker, park on the road outside the entrance and walk in...you'll save a few bucks, you're more likely to see deer and maybe a bobcat on foot and the scenery is outstanding. There's a map posted just past the entrance near the restrooms to plot your walk.) became my workout venues.
When I wanted a more rigorous worked out, I went to Garrapata State Park (the spring flowers are *stunning* as are the views) and did the Rocky Ridge Trail.
I usually did it early Saturday morning but on one occasion I did it after work at about 6:00pm and enjoyed a beautiful sunset and a slightly scary descent into dusk. Another rugged trail with a great payoff is Snively's Ridge at Garland Ranch. Both are real glute-busters. So, yeah, vacation includes exercise, and in a beautiful location, how can you lose?
Since I'm short on pics, you'll have to check out the links. In lieu of photos of the places mentioned, here is a pic of a dolphin at the Seymour Marine Lab (topic for upcoming post). Also, I add to the phone wallpaper collection a pic of Ganesha taken at Ambrosia in Monterey mid-May when we chowed at the buffet. Pure bliss:)
I'll end with my hiking tips and a wish that you enjoy your California Dreamin':
1. Check weather in advance and dress appropriately. Most of these places have trails that are well maintained so you can safely wear shorts. Cloud cover, tree shade and traversing through canyons can cause dramatic shifts in temperature. Wear light layers to peel off or put on as needed.
2. Bring sunscreen, water, snacks and wear appropriate shoes. Vaseline on toes/heels before socks prevents blisters.
3. I like to go early; it's not as hot. I don't like to carry anything, don't like camel backs or back packs. I prefer to leave water and food in car if hike is two hours or less. I have a small fanny pack for phone, lip balm, a small bottle of water and a snack for slightly longer hikes. Hikes over three hours require a back pack, pbj sandwich, apple, and at least a liter of water.