It’s in the low 50s during the day and mid 30s at night. Cold snap California style, so of course, we should go to the beach!
We were off to Half Moon Bay. Sea salty air. Long lines of sandy beaches. Shelling. Clam chowder with a dash or two hot sauce. Endless rolling of waves in and out.
Sunlight low. Breezes cool. Water icy. Less crowded than the crowds of summer. Peaceful. Plentiful in discovery.
I am always happy here. Always.
The full moon brought an epic low tide. As we walked out on the beach towards the end of the rock jetty, we could see nature in action. Predator versus meal. We decided to stop the buffet by rescuing a crab from a certain demise. He looked okay, so we set him free into the bay, but he would not dig down. The other crabs we found immediately dug a hole to hide in. Not our crab. Was it the shock from the initial scuffle? Maybe he had just given up? Our crab, he didn’t make it. In the end, he was lunch for the local seabirds, much to the disappointment of my children.
All that remained was one sad little crab leg laying alone on the beach with a bunch of squawky happy birds. In crab’s defense, the girls chased the birds down the beach, waving their arms and yelling, “BAD SEAGULLS! YOU ATE OUR FRIEND!”
Finding the perfect shell. A satisfying hobby. Earlier that day, the tide hugged the coastline, erasing the beach. By afternoon, the same tide pulled the ocean way out into the bay. Long sticky mud flats exposed, uncovering a plethora of shells. The beach glittered in the low winter sun. Families were clamming. Other families were crabbing. We were shelling. Ava explored deep into the mudflats. Her jeans caked in sand and seawater. Stuffing her pockets with sand worn shells of every shape and size.
Kids shelling is really straight forward because every shell is beautiful. We did our best not to pick up shells with house guests. Ava did pretty well with this rule except for one. The next morning, Mia came out of hotel bathroom complaining one of Ava’s shells smelled funny. She handed it to me, I looked inside and found a small panicked hermit crab. We quickly returned it back to its’ home.
Mia found her share of treasures. A few shells, a piece of sea kelp, and one red plastic star necklace. She was particularly proud of a broken star necklace. She had discovered buried treasure.
Of course, no trip would be complete without swimming in the hotel pool. It was heated (thank goodness). The kids jumped and played, while I wished out loud to go into the hot tub.
I finally convinced them the hot tub was the way to go and we enjoyed the steamy heat as we watched the sun sink low into the sky.
A spectacular sunset. Deep textured color. The sun glowed orange while slipping behind a low fog bank. Soft pink and orange streaks painted the still glass of the marina. Moored sailboats cast long shadows. Relaxation filled our souls.
Seafood lunches and dinners. Mia likes to visit the future meals at Sam’s. She sits quietly by the lobster tank and chats with her crustacean friends. Not sure she made the connection that her friend, the lobster, was my sandwich for lunch. After the crab incident at the beach, I didn’t have the heart to tell her. Meals with conversation, giggles, and games. Heated rounds of tic-tac-toe. Word search puzzles. Coloring pages. A made up game of would you rather be this or that had everyone almost on the floor in hysterics. Mostly because Mia would pick the worst item on the list with great confidence and flair. Would you rather be stinky cheese or a flower, and she would choose stinky cheese, proudly.
The next morning, we went for a walk along the coastline. The girls traveled by scooter. Mia got really mad at one point for some mysterious reason. Kicked her scooter. Someday, I will show her dates this photo.
Once the Mia storm had passed. We picked bouquets of delicate yellow flowers. Located a strange unburned beach fire structure. Discovered more shells.
Ava rode her scooter far ahead, loving the freedom of a long straight path. We marveled at the eroding cliffs eating their way ever closer to the highway. The tide is high and the beach is empty. No surfers are on the water this morning.
The morning passed quickly, it was time for lunch at another favorite place, Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. Indoor and outdoor seating. It a favorite for families and dogs. We giggled as a very large Great Dane begged at his family’s table for scraps. Almost as tall as the humans sitting around the table. He stared, drooled, and waited for a treat to come his way.
Mia poses for a particularly interesting set of photos. I love this series. You can really see who she is via still images.
Once the tide began the march out to the deep sea, it was time to visit the Fitzgerald reserve. It is a massive reef located just north of Half Moon Bay. Our main goal was to search for starfish. In the end, we had to walk far down and out onto the reef for any sign of starfish. We found two to be precise. Only two starfish. A starfish plague has taken the lives of millions of starfish up and down the coast, and they are only beginning to understand what is happening.
However, there was plenty of other sea life thriving on the reef. The blue sky and clouds reflected in the stillness of the pools, while big waves crash just feet away. The tide pools were filled with brightly colored anemones, crabs, and grasses. Coralline algae painted the tide pool rocks pink. A colony of harbor seals found shelter on the furthest reaches, near the break. Pearlescent abalone and tiny purple swirly shells dotted the reef. Mia found a full fish bone, intact. She held it up with great pride. I discovered a heart-shaped rock. Can you find it? We talked to rangers and learned new things. Small hands dipped in water exploring; touching the life on the reef.
Small trips like this help create an appreciation for our planet.
We ended our trip down the coast at the Ritz. Relaxing oceanside seating and a sunset welcoming bagpiper. We snuggled under green blankets and sipped hot chocolate.
Winter at the beach.
Just twenty minutes from our home…
and it’s perfect.