screeching sound of the airplane’s tires contacting the freshly paved tarmac
was a welcoming sound after an ear-popping six-hour flight. As I departed from the overly-crowded jetliner,
I was ecstatic knowing that I had reached my vacation destination. Vacations are great a time to relax, enjoy
the time away from work and create lasting memories. My first trip to southern California’s
pristine coastline was one that I will forever remember.
Aside from movie stars, nothing seems to
get more attention than California’s coastline. Pacific coastal highway, referred
to as the PCH, runs for over 600 miles with scenery as dramatic as any
Hollywood blockbuster. Coastline colors
change in a matter of miles and beg to be photographed.
from the Griffith Observatory to the coastal cliffs of Dana Point was filled
with fantastic views and overwhelming traffic.
The rental car had a full tank of gas and was ready to take me on the
day’s adventure. The first stop; The
Griffith Observatory. Sitting high on
the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood; the observatory is the perfect place
to take in the picturesque views of the landscape surrounding the Los Angeles area. I arrived at the observatory before sunrise and
watched as the sun peaked over the San Gabriel mountains. Brilliant gold and orange hues bled like fire across
the rarely quiet western city. The terrain
was filled with every vivid color, each one of them as fresh as a new painting straight
from Rome. After gasping at the all-inspiring
views, I continued onward to my next destination.
As I merged
onto the six lanes of Los Angeles highway, the calm, peaceful atmosphere quickly
faded away. Cars laid bumper to bumper, exhaust
fumes belching out, and the once tranquil songs of the White-crowned Sparrow were
now replaced with the sounds of an ear-piercing horn on a 1998 Buick Riveria. The I-5 was transformed into what seemed like a
giant parking lot. Traffic was moving at
a snail’s pace for what seemed like an eternity. A memory I will never forget and
hopefully will never relive.
breaking free from the automotive entanglement on the I-5, the Pacific Coast Highway
led me to food and fun at one of California’s
most iconic piers. The Santa Monica pier
is home to a permanent fun fair; Ferris wheel,
roller coaster, arcades and an endless amount of street performers sharing their
talent with the multitudes of locals and tourist. As I made my way toward Mariasol Cocina Mexicana
restaurant conveniently placed at the dead-end of the pier, my senses were overwhelmed.
An unharmonious medley of sounds echoed from
all around, train track thud of stroller wheels over the wooden planks, the crackly
melodies played out of old speakers from each ride, squeals and screams from children
as they are whooshed away by carnival-style
rides. The repetitive tones of arcade
games callout from the sheltered array of glowing, flashing machines. The smell
of funnel cakes permeating the cool sea air; none of which was able to deter me
from my original intentions; the Coctel Del Mar.
A signature dish with freshly caught calamari, red snapper and shrimp served in
a delicious Mexican cocktail sauce garnished with fresh tomato, cilantro, and onion.
Lunch on the Santa Monica pier overlooking
the Pacific Ocean is truly what memories are made of.
Overlooking the migration of the blue
whales at Dana Point Conservation area was the perfect ending to an adventurous
day. The conservation area provided visitors a three-mile pedestrian trail with
several overlooks offering an opportunity to take in the gorgeous ocean vistas
and breathe in the salty air. Reaching one
of the overlooks, I decided to gaze across the Pacific hoping I would catch a glimpse
of the blue whales during the annual migration. To my astonishment, I spied a pod of barnacle-encrusted blue whales breaching in the
late evening sunlight. About ninety
percent of their eighty-foot length cleared the water each time and then they
turned to land on their side or back. White spray erupted around them as about one-hundred
and fifty tons of warm-blooded mammal hit
the surface. After several hours of watching
the majestic mammals, an orange glow started spreading across the moving sea,
reflecting off every wave. The once blinding
ball of sunlight quickly tucked itself under the dark turquoise sea signaling the
end of an unforgettable journey.
Whether the sun is climbing above the San
Gabriel mountains or sinking into the Pacific, the stress of daily life tends
to fade away when relaxed on a much-needed vacation. Vacations are an undeniable way of creating
lasting memories. Memories that I will
never forget during a weekend adventure to the southern coast of California.