As summer wears on and the mercury climbs closer to the century mark, you might find yourself needing a change of scenery just as much as a tall glass of ice water. Time to pack a picnic, dig out some sweatshirts from the back of the closet, fill the tank with biodiesel and head out on a family adventure. Destination: the beach.
It's a long drive and the kids will ask about a zillion times if you're there yet, but you'll enjoy the scenery along the way.
Fields full of sunflowers and orchards ripe with fruit.
Rolling golden hills dotted with cows and oaks.
Farmhouses surrounded by fertile fields where your dreams could easily flourish.
You're almost there when you reach the dairy farms and cattle ranches that are so close to the ocean and so far from civilization, you'll wonder if the people living there consider it a blessing or a curse. Roll down the window and take a deep whiff of pastures and salt water mingling with fog and eucalyptus.
Take only what you need from the car once you reach the end of the road and the beginning of the trail down to the beach:
Beer, food, blanket, baseball, gloves, camera.
This certainly is not the California beach of songs and movies. No, this is rugged, stark, wild and gray. Not a palm tree or beach ball in sight. It's a natural and organic feast for the senses.
Finish the box of chocolate pretzel bark you brought to sweeten your picnic lunch and fill the box with the treasures you found. The box is small, but that's OK.
Your camera's media card and your memory will hold most of the treasures you discovered at the beach.
On the way up the trail away from the beach, notice all the things you missed on the way down.
Look out for caterpillars, and don't be startled by the dried seed pods that rattle like snakes when you brush against the bushes lining the path. Make sure to empty the sand out of your shoes and use the bathroom, because as you know, it's a long drive home.
Stop by a brewery on the way home, because hoppy beer, salty peanuts and live music will provide the perfect ending for your adventure. Try not to let so much time pass before your next excursion. A change of scenery is good for the soul, good for the family, and exactly what you need.