Thescreeching sound of the airplane’s tires contacting the freshly paved tarmacwas 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, enjoythe time away from work and create lasting memories.
My first trip to southern California’spristine coastline was one that I will forever remember.Aside from movie stars, nothing seems toget more attention than California’s coastline. Pacific coastal highway, referredto as the PCH, runs for over 600 miles with scenery as dramatic as anyHollywood blockbuster. Coastline colorschange in a matter of miles and beg to be photographed. The cruisefrom the Griffith Observatory to the coastal cliffs of Dana Point was filledwith fantastic views and overwhelming traffic. The rental car had a full tank of gas and was ready to take me on theday’s adventure. The first stop; TheGriffith Observatory. Sitting high onthe south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood; the observatory is the perfect placeto take in the picturesque views of the landscape surrounding the Los Angeles area.
I arrived at the observatory before sunrise andwatched as the sun peaked over the San Gabriel mountains. Brilliant gold and orange hues bled like fire acrossthe rarely quiet western city. The terrainwas filled with every vivid color, each one of them as fresh as a new painting straightfrom Rome. After gasping at the all-inspiringviews, I continued onward to my next destination. As I mergedonto the six lanes of Los Angeles highway, the calm, peaceful atmosphere quicklyfaded away. Cars laid bumper to bumper, exhaustfumes belching out, and the once tranquil songs of the White-crowned Sparrow werenow replaced with the sounds of an ear-piercing horn on a 1998 Buick Riveria. The I-5 was transformed into what seemed like agiant parking lot. Traffic was moving ata snail’s pace for what seemed like an eternity.
A memory I will never forget andhopefully will never relive. Afterbreaking free from the automotive entanglement on the I-5, the Pacific Coast Highwayled me to food and fun at one of California’smost iconic piers. The Santa Monica pieris home to a permanent fun fair; Ferris wheel,roller coaster, arcades and an endless amount of street performers sharing theirtalent with the multitudes of locals and tourist. As I made my way toward Mariasol Cocina Mexicanarestaurant conveniently placed at the dead-end of the pier, my senses were overwhelmed.
An unharmonious medley of sounds echoed fromall around, train track thud of stroller wheels over the wooden planks, the cracklymelodies played out of old speakers from each ride, squeals and screams from childrenas they are whooshed away by carnival-stylerides. The repetitive tones of arcadegames callout from the sheltered array of glowing, flashing machines. The smellof funnel cakes permeating the cool sea air; none of which was able to deter mefrom my original intentions; the Coctel Del Mar.
A signature dish with freshly caught calamari, red snapper and shrimp served ina delicious Mexican cocktail sauce garnished with fresh tomato, cilantro, and onion. Lunch on the Santa Monica pier overlookingthe Pacific Ocean is truly what memories are made of.Overlooking the migration of the bluewhales at Dana Point Conservation area was the perfect ending to an adventurousday. The conservation area provided visitors a three-mile pedestrian trail withseveral overlooks offering an opportunity to take in the gorgeous ocean vistasand breathe in the salty air. Reaching oneof the overlooks, I decided to gaze across the Pacific hoping I would catch a glimpseof the blue whales during the annual migration. To my astonishment, I spied a pod of barnacle-encrusted blue whales breaching in thelate evening sunlight.
About ninetypercent of their eighty-foot length cleared the water each time and then theyturned to land on their side or back. White spray erupted around them as about one-hundredand fifty tons of warm-blooded mammal hitthe surface. After several hours of watchingthe majestic mammals, an orange glow started spreading across the moving sea,reflecting off every wave. The once blindingball of sunlight quickly tucked itself under the dark turquoise sea signaling theend of an unforgettable journey.
Whether the sun is climbing above the SanGabriel mountains or sinking into the Pacific, the stress of daily life tendsto fade away when relaxed on a much-needed vacation. Vacations are an undeniable way of creatinglasting memories. Memories that I willnever forget during a weekend adventure to the southern coast of California.