Clearly one of the best things about living in San Diego is the close proximity to the beach. Even in March it is a luxurious, free treat to take a walk along the cliffs above the beach, enjoying the view, the people, the fresh air and the exercise. San Diego County may be an expensive place to live and visit but this is one amenity you can enjoy all you want and it is available at no extra charge.
I was enjoying a walk last week with Enzo, our German Shepherd, along Coast Highway by Swami’s. That’s a pretty famous surf spot in North County. There is a nice stretch of walkway that goes along the cliffs where you can look out over the surfers and the coastline. Enzo and I needed to get out and relax a little, we were working on getting him to ignore other dogs rather than bark and try to play with them and I was getting over the stress of losing my job.
It was a glorious, sunny day. It was after a nice, big storm that had brought us a lot of rain so the sky was uncharacteristically clear and the surf was still high. The surfers were really enjoying the bigger waves and they were out in full force, even though it was a week day. Obviously, there was a little case of surfer’s flu hitting the county this week, although I am happy to say these guys looked like perfectly healthy specimens to me.
The mix of people on land was fun. There were the recreational walkers like Enzo and myself of varying ages, the serious runners, who mostly used the bike lane to avoid the clogs caused by the rest of us in the path, friends out for strolls and chats, moms with strollers, skateboarders, surf watchers, bicyclists who looked annoyed with the runners in their lane. There were people who watched the ocean and people who looked like they might as well have been on their treadmills. People who had on headphones and others who listened to all that was around them. People smiling and others scowling.
I enjoyed a group of four that had just flown in from Georgia. They were sitting on a curb to take a little break and chat and noticed Enzo so we stopped for a second and he got some loving.. I had spotted a pod of dolphins just off the coast in front of us and mentioned it. They were sitting right there and hadn’t seen the 4 fins, the blows and even the playful jumps these dolphins were performing for them! They were happy to have it pointed out and did watch for a bit, but were more interested in the dog. Now, I am a crazy dog lover, don’t get me wrong. I see a dog and it’s all I can do to keep from going up to it… usually I don’t even try to stop myself. But I have lived in San Diego most of my life, born and raised here, and I will watch dolphins until they are out of sight EVERY TIME. These dolphins were behaving differently too. Usually they just cruise along the shore, coming up to breathe every so often, beautiful, graceful and quick. These guys were dallying. Hanging out in one spot. Splashing around with one another. Jumping a bit. I don’t know if they had very young juveniles with them or what but they put on quite an extended show and I was very bummed I did not have my binoculars. I kept watching. My new friends from Georgia wandered off. I’ll bet they went to Sea World while they were here though.
The Surfer Change?
So far this is working wonders on my tension, I am feeling much better and so thankful for where I live. As I approach where I parked, right near the parking lot at Swami’s I notice a few surfers have come up from the beach and are by their cars. If you haven’t been around surfers after surfing or anyone coming off the beach really, you have missed out. We do this thing called a surfer change because the bathrooms at the beach are cold, wet, sandy and not too convenient. Our gear is in our cars so we go back, peel our wetsuit off our shoulders, maybe rinse down with some water out of a jug, if female at this point pull on a shirt then pull down the wetsuit to the waist, wrap a towel around waist, pull off wetsuit and dress your bottom. It sounds easy, but think of all the possible fail points! The breeze. The awkwardness. The clothes sticking against the towel. The bending.
Now around here, we are used to it. It is my impression that we are basically polite and avert our eyes, allowing folks to change without being intentionally observed. I am probably giving perverts too much credit, but since I do this myself I choose to believe it. It is definitely accepted practice at the beach. I probably wouldn’t try it and would be surprised to see it in a grocery store parking lot inland. BUT, it sure makes me smile to see healthy, tan, broad backed men (yes, and women) changing out in the open even when I am not trying to see anything Disney wouldn’t put in a movie. It makes me smile because it is SO home. It feels SO free. I know some people who would be SO appalled. It is just part of what makes this place SO right. Well, that and the dolphins, right Enzo?