Though I take this walk nearly every day when I am at home, I rarely take photographs, and hardly ever reflect on the beauty of this part of the earth. I use this glorious walk as a little bit of silent stepping out, a relaxation built into my already relaxing retirement. Today, I’d like to share Morro Strand State Beach with you.
It’s exactly in the center of the long state of California, a couple miles of beach that slowly curves just like the coastline of my home state. We have a mild winter, and today is typical of that time between winter and spring. Really, the only difference between the seasons is a couple degrees of warmth and an hour or so of sunshine. Today, we are recovering from welcomed rain, so the world will be washed and clean for our walk. Sadie knows the way, so she leads.
In and around the natural setting of the coastline, we wind into the rustic dunes from a man-made grassland that hopes to bring nature back to the area after a housing development took its toll. The fences keep us away from the sensitive areas, but still gives us a view into the dunes.
We pass through a shaded section, over a sweet bridge crossing a creek that is usually dry. As you can see, today it is full of murky rain water, and the ducks look happy to have more than the usual pond for swimming. I wonder if they venture out onto the beach when the water dries up, or if they pad over to the park wetlands. I think they have a nest here, as I’ve seen them in this same spot now for a month or so.
This area has sections dedicated to a tiny bird called the snowy plover. They are pretty little birds that run together in groups of hundreds. During the winter, they earn their name by turning a brilliant snow white, and look like popcorn popping on the beach as they bounce up and down in their huge bird groups. When they fly into the air en mass, a gorgeous white flash fills the sky. We are not to walk in their nesting areas, though, because if a human approaches, they will desert their nests. Or if a dog sniffs, they will desert their nests. Or if loud noises rouse them, they will leave their babies behind. I think they are better at being like popcorn than at parenting. We turn here, recross the bridge, and because dogs are not allowed on the Plovers’ beach, Stanley and Sadie return home and I continue alone.
To the beach, through the dunes. The distant roar of the waves has joined us on our walk, becoming loud and soft again as we strolled in and out of the grassland and dune trails. Now, it blasts my ears with its insistent call. I am the most powerful thing on earth it says, proving its point by reaching your mind whether or not you allow it.
I struggle through the soft dry sand before reaching the packed sand, easy to walk on. Even easy enough to ride a bike. The snowy plovers are the small birds, cute but not the best parents in the bird world. I turn my camera south toward Morro Rock, but decide to walk north.
In the distance to the north is the town of Cayucos. It’s a longer walk than I’ll be doing today – probably six miles to the restaurants – but it’s always tempting, since it is an easy straight-ahead beach walk.
Along the way, fishermen try their luck and beach-combers hunt. I reach the steps up the cliff, my turn-around point, and spend some time in my favorite beach activity: rock hunting. Or I should say rock-admiring, since I am trying to take photos rather than taking the rocks themselves.
Back toward Morro Rock, then home. I hope you’ve enjoyed Morro Strand State Beach. Wouldn’t you like to take this walk yourself? As a decades-long former resident of the California Central Valley, this walk now in my front yard fills me with gratitude.