Pacific Ocean at Rialto Beach

Pacific Ocean at Rialto Beach

“That far-resounding roar is the Ocean’s voice of welcome.  His salt breath brings a blessing along with it.”
— Nathaniel Hawthorne, from “Footprints on the Sea-shore”

Olympic National Park has several beach access points to the Pacific coast.  On this road trip, we stopped at three beaches and walked barefoot in the sand.

Rialto Beach was the wildest shore with stretches of pebbly sand and sea stacks jutting up from the water.

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Ruby Beach was glorious in the morning light.  We descended a short trail down from the parking area to the beach.  Old tree trunks littered the shore above the tide line.  This beach, too, had sea stacks.  But it also had tide pools to explore and fine sand to walk on.

Arriving at Ruby Beach in the early morning

Arriving at Ruby Beach in the early morning

Sea stacks

Sea stacks

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Kalaloch Beach seemed tamer, with a wide expanse of soft sand down to the water’s edge.

Kalaloch Beach

Kalaloch Beach

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“The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean —
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.”
— Robert Frost, “Devotion”

 

The Cry of Seagulls

August 17, 2016

“And oh, the cry of the seagulls!  Have you ever heard it?  Can you remember?”
— C. S. Lewis

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One memorable part of my day trip to Rialto Beach was that I got many great photographs of seagulls in flight.  They were feeding in the surf, right at the edge the water, and they were swooping past at eye level.  So here are the results of my photo frenzy capturing the freedom of flight:

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Juvenile seagull

Juvenile seagull

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Watercolor sketch of seagulls

Watercolor sketch of seagulls

Another watercolor sketch of seagulls

Another watercolor sketch of seagulls

 

 

 

Sol Duc River at its mouth on the Pacific Ocean

Sol Duc River at its mouth on the Pacific Ocean

Olympic National Park is really huge and encompasses such diverse landscapes — snow-capped mountains, freshwater lakes (like Lake Crescent), ocean beaches, and temperate rain forests.  It really is a marvel.  Rialto Beach was less than an hour’s drive from Nature Bridge campus, so three of us interrupted our retreat to make a day trip there.

Rock cairns on the Rialto Beach

Rock cairns on the Rialto Beach

Walking barefoot on the beach

Walking barefoot on the beach

Rialto Beach is wild, windy, and glorious.  The surf pounds.  The air is rich with ozone.  Sea stacks off shore appear and disappear in the mist.  Huge logs litter the upper beach.  Tall evergreens border the ocean’s edge.  The beach is sandy and pebbly, and all the pebbles from small to large are flat and smooth.  The parking lots were full, but the immensity of the coast absorbed all those people so you felt the space as expansive.

We walked along the beach to the Hole in the Wall, ate a picnic lunch, and then painted for an hour or so.  Here are some photos of our day at Rialto Beach:

Sea stack like a ghostly phantom on the horizon

Sea stack like a ghostly phantom on the horizon

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One of the world's giant sandboxes

One of the world’s giant sandboxes

Two friends

Two friends

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Ink and watercolor sketch of sea stacks

Ink and watercolor sketch of sea stacks

Watercolor painting of sea stacks at Rialto Beach

Watercolor painting of sea stacks at Rialto Beach

Another view of sea stacks from First Beach, La Push

Another view of sea stacks from First Beach, La Push

 

” . . . and there they are, thousands and thousands of tourists driving by slowly on the high curves all oo ing and aa ing at all that vast blue panorama of seas washing and raiding the coast of California . . .”
— Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

View of the coastline from the lighthouse at Point Reyes National Seashore

View of the coastline from the lighthouse at Point Reyes National Seashore

I have a dream of someday driving every mile of the U.S. lower 48 coastline.  Starting with Neah Bay in Washington State and driving south along the Pacific coast to the Mexican border.  Then starting again in Brownsville, Texas and going along the Gulf of Mexico to the Florida Keys, and then north along the Atlantic coast to the tip of Maine.  I don’t mind doing this journey piecemeal, and I’ve already driven much of the Washington and Oregon coasts.  This trip was an opportunity to cover some of the California coast from Point Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco to Big Sur.

While the weather was sunny in San Francisco, we encountered pockets of low lying fog along parts of the coast.  This is a wild coastline, with pounding surf and inaccessible shorelines at the bases of cliffs and bluffs.  The pockets of accessible beach occur every so often — many are state park lands — and the popular ones were busy with people picnicking and playing in the sand.  Few people were in the water or wading in the treacherous surf.  We saw surfers on the beaches of Santa Cruz. It was easy to park roadside at the more remote beaches — remarkable that you could have these great stretches of beach almost to yourself.

The gray whales were migrating south to their birthing grounds, and we were lucky to have spotted evidence of their passing — three spouts above the water.  No actual sightings of the whales themselves.

Watching for gray whales

Watching for gray whales

The California coast is extraordinarily beautiful.  Here are some photos:
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South Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore

South Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore

South Beach, Point Reyes National Seahore

South Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore

Marina at Pillar Point

Marina at Pillar Point

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay

Point Lobos State Reserve

Point Lobos State Reserve

Point Lobos State Reserve

Point Lobos State Reserve

Point Lobos State Reserve

Point Lobos State Reserve

Seagulls resting on Bird Island, Point Lobos

Seagulls resting on Bird Island, Point Lobos

Off Highway 1 on the way to Big Sur

Off Highway 1 on the way to Big Sur

Big Sur

Big Sur

Our lunchtime view of the Big Sur coastline from the deck of the Nepenthe Restaurant

Our lunchtime view of the Big Sur coastline from the deck of the Nepenthe Restaurant

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean