Sometimes, a man just needs a break.
A break from the hustle and bustle of adult life.
A break from those angry emails that say you cover too much of one thing, followed by the angry emails that say you don’t cover enough of the same thing.
A break from the cold weather, even though I’m the one who willingly moved to northern Utah, where the temperature inversion is a way of life.
So, this past weekend, I went away. Far, far away, in fact. So far that I’d be somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean had I gone any farther west.
Shortly after we finished putting out last Thursday’s edition, I got in my parents’ car and headed toward the central California coast for a long weekend of much-needed rest and relaxation.
After spending Thursday night in Reno, where I encountered a not-so-charitable Wheel of Fortune slot machine, after a long drive through stretches of northern Nevada best experienced in the dark, we met up with my sister, her husband and their three daughters in snowy Truckee, California, and then headed toward the coast.
Now, I’ve been to the beach a fair amount of times in my life. I lived an hour from Malibu and three hours from San Diego for almost five years. My grandparents had a house a block from the Sea of Cortez in Mexico for 20 years. I’ve been to the Mediterranean coast in Spain. But none of those prepared me for what awaited in Carmel, where my parents had rented a large beach house for the weekend.
The house itself was cool enough — a turn-of-the-century stone French cottage with character to spare, tucked amongst the cypress trees just off the iconic Pacific Coast Highway. I’d seen pictures, but it was impossible to fully appreciate the view until I stepped inside and looked out the west-facing living room windows.
There, not more than 200 yards away (and down a rather precarious stone staircase) was a fairly angry-looking Pacific Ocean, with the sounds of its crashing waves reverberating through the various trees and shrubs. The ground was littered with an abundance of abalone shells, each one more colorful than the last. I walked to the edge of the cliff above the shoreline and saw more otters than I could count just swimming in the surf.
And even though the weather could have been better, especially if the marine-layer fog had burned off at some point, it was still the kind of stuff more often seen on postcards than in real life.
If you’re looking for tourist attractions, particularly something educational, Carmel’s your place. Point Lobos State Reserve was just a couple miles down the road from the house, with harbor seals and California sea lions lounging on the shores and scenic views as far as the eye can see. The Monterey Bay Aquarium wasn’t far either. (We took the orange-and-blue jellyfish as a positive sign for our beloved Denver Broncos, who picked up yet another nail-biting win a couple days later.)
But, perhaps the most valuable memory of all is the time I got to spend with my family. We could have been anywhere and it would have been a good time. Well, maybe not anywhere. Ever been to Nebraska? But I digress.
It may have only been a short trip, as I returned to work Tuesday morning in the wake of a brutal 13-hour trek back to Utah the night before. But I already find myself wondering when I can go back.
Darren Vaughan is the community news editor for the Transcript Bulletin. He was reminded how much better seafood can be when you’re several hundred yards from the ocean rather than nearly a thousand miles. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.