Lufenholtz beach, a few miles south of Trinidad, CA has become one of my favorite places on the planet.
Only a 20 minute drive from my house in Bayside, it’s one of the go-to places for my family when we want to get away for an afternoon. A bit of a Goldilocks spot, conditions have to be just right. Little to no wind. Low tide. Sunny weather at 65 degrees or better. Most weekends throughout the year, we keep one eye on the tide charts and weather. Just in case.
When the universe smiles, and it’s a go, packing is easy. We throw a couple of chairs in the car. A bottle of sunscreen, a magazine to stare at, and a few snacks to nosh on while we are there, and we are off. We never pack too heavily; the walk down a steep set of stairs may be short but it’s tricky to manuever with a large load of stuff.
Once on the beach, we often have to navigate through the quiet, meandering stream that runs through the middle of Luffentholtz. It changes course almost daily. It’s always interesting to see what sand bank it has cut into. I often piggy back the girls across the stream. I don’t really have to, but why the hell wouldn’t I? Where we set up shop depends on a few things: position of the stream, height of the tide, direction of the wind, and the most important variable of all: the location of rocks, worthy of collection.
The north Pacific does a wonderful job of shaping and polishing the little nuggets that have found themselves deposited on the shoreline. Heather lays in one spot, meditating on the texture and patterns that the rocks create. Occasionally, she will pocket a keeper; a treasure to place in one of the jars scattered about our house.
The girls wander the sloping beach looking for marine treasures of their own. Waves come dangerously close to dampening the bottoms of their rolled up pant legs. A fog bank threatens to creep in from off shore. The ocean offers up a steady sound track to our afternoon.
I crack a magazine, but don’t get very far. There are too many pleasant distractions to take in. My attention drifts to the dramatic sea stacks located just offshore. Incoming waves struggle to form a surfable face, but never quite make it.
So why am I thinking and writing about a little cove that is more than 5,000 miles away from a ship that is slowly chugging towards Greenland?
The Arctic smacks you in the face with it’s stark beauty. Sharp mountain peaks. Rivers of ice patiently flow down steep slopes. Persistant winds blow across the tundra. A frigid ocean full of an incredible array of ice. White, blue, pock-marked and smooth. Ice is everywhere.
Despite this adversity, life explodes in the Arctic. A colony of a hundred thousand sea birds erupts off a 300 ft. cliff face. Polar bears amble across the ice pack, on the hunt for a ringed seal to swallow. Herds of reindeer graze on tufts of lichen.
It is beautiful here. I am getting to know the Arctic, and want to do my part to protect it. But it is not home.