Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Grand Gallivant: Humbug Mountain

Birthday portrait: how I look when I've just turned 28, I haven't brushed my hair yet, and Zach makes me laugh

Our drive down to Humbug Mountain State Park on July 7th took a few hours, but when our car popped out of the woods onto a cliffside that overlooked the ocean, all three of us gasped— huge dark rocks jutted from the ocean, covered in seabirds, and the ocean glittered so brightly in the sun, it looked like it was made of molten silver. So we came to Humbug Mountain State Park late afternoon. We set up at a nondescript campsite and walked a couple minutes to the beach. A stream babbled toward the sea, hit a sand dune, and curved off to the far left, creating a little peninsula of sand. The rest of the beach was cradled between two jagged rock outcroppings less than a mile apart, and wind howled over us as we strolled down the golden beach.

We took a couple beach walks that night, first with Gary, then with Ivy and Heather. We tried to watch the sunset from a sandy alcove along the dunes, but the sun sank into the clouds before it touched the horizon, and we walked back to camp under a subtle pink sky. 

It was our last night of camping, and we stayed up late huddled around the fire, eating too many marshmallows, and debating about the ethics of Batman.

Zach and I woke up at seven the next morning to catch the low tide. It was July 8th, my 28th birthday, and I wanted to begin the day with a beach walk. Without even brushing my hair or eating breakfast, we set out.

The wind had died down on the beach, and the rocks that had barely been jutting out yesterday were exposed down to their anemone-clad roots. We poked around a maze of kelp-drenched tidepools, spotting starfish both purple and orange, huge seagreen anemones, little crabs scuttling out of the way, and thousands of barnacles, clams, and limpets. Two wading birds with long red beaks, called black oystercatchers, whistled at us and wheeled off, and we also spotted a murre (which looks like a smaller, sleeker penguin, capable of both swimming and flying) floating in the waves, and some pigeon guillemots (pigeon-sized black and white birds with red feet) flapping overhead. Having visited the Atlantic far much more than the Pacific, I’m used to seeing the sun rise over the ocean, but here it rose over the mountains, pouring golden light onto the waves. 

Another birthday portrait: me being a model

As we walked, I felt perfectly at peace. I was happy it was my birthday; I was happy Zach was walking with me; I was happy to be at the beach. Ten years ago I never could’ve imagined this future for myself, but now that I was living it, I was incredibly grateful.

We packed up around noon, said goodbye to Ivy and Heather, and hit the road. The drive home was long, and I was so tired that I even slept a bit. That night, Gary took us out for Mexican food in honor of my birthday, and after four days of hot dogs, the burrito tasted absolutely amazing. It was a wonderful day.


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