Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Long Walk Home :: Or, How a Mistake Turned into One of the Best Walks Ever

We were planning a walk that afternoon, somewhere on the cliffs above Los Obos, north of Morro Bay. But first, we had to have barbeque. Out of the love in my heart, I'd hunted down this little place in Cayucos - I am a vegetarian, so give me credit here - but I can appreciate the atmosphere of a shack on the beach with a kickass barbeque. So I sat with my somewhat sad veggie sandwich and watched my loves enjoy their wood-smoked meat, pulled off some bone or other, topped with crisp apples and celery, tucked into handmade tortillas. 

This made me happy.

I'll admit, the fresh-baked cookies on Main Street also made me happy.

We said goodbye to my parents, who'd joined us for lunch, and set about exploring the town and the pier. We'd meet them back home, and get ourselves properly organised for our walk on the bluffs later ... food and water, shoes, daypacked provisions.

And then, with their car's exhaust just clearing from the air, we realised our mistake. Our car's keys were in the back of their car.

We'd have to walk home.

This wasn't exactly our plan - our plan had involved being prepared for a walk, not a 5-plus-mile beach hike with nothing but a camera in tow. But then, this wasn't exactly the middle-of-nowhere. We bought ourselves a bottle of water and hit the strand - the long stretch of sand between Cayucos and Morro Bay, where we were staying.

The tide was just going out, so Nelle ran ahead of us and drew letters in the smoothness.

We walked behind, Robbie and me, at our own slower pace, ready to identify the next letter we saw.

There were desiccated seals and swarmy piles of tubular seaweed to explore, shorebirds and flying dogs to watch. We made our way with a sort of casual purpose toward the great distant Rock and the Smokestacks of Morro Bay.

And then, suddenly, we were home. Our tired feet plodded up off the beach and onto sidewalks, and our games moved from letters in the sand to letters on streetsigns. At the end, but only at the end, Robbie carried Nelle - fading from sprints and sea air and sunshine into his arms. 

Awhile later, my dad gave Robbie and me a lift back to Cayucos - with our keys, this time - to retrieve our car. We marveled at how far we'd walked, the distance so long even on four wheels. 

But more than that, we marveled at the beauty of the place we'd become part of, even if just for one, unintended afternoon.

Amanda xx

(from our visit to Morro Bay, Christmas 2012)


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