Cool Buddies

The 17-mile drive [by Sharada]

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on July 21, 2013

Generous strokes of blue, layered with pale green, both blending together to form the indescribable color of the ocean; the monotony of these colors broken by the deep brown rocks which force the water to transform into a misty white; A dash of green of the trees thrown in along the white sandy coast and you have a perfect painting. And this is exactly what some of the artistically inclined visitors were attempting to capture at the Pebble Beach. Some of us, lesser endowed or in some cases, lesser patient ones could only stare at their artwork in amazement. However, the 12’’ by 15’’ canvas stood no chance in comparison against the vast expansive, larger than life canvas that wrapped us.

The poor camera almost cried in revolt for pitting it against the most wonderful lens, which is the human eye. My eyes could see up till the horizon, capturing subtle colors, movement alternating between a panoramic view and a powerful zoom almost effortlessly while the brain tried to process all this at a high speed sometimes missing a few details that went unregistered. Where the eye was challenged, the mind made up by filling in some details with imagination; and this even the most advanced of the cameras cannot attempt to match. Nevertheless for the benefit of our family, who were eager to see the landscape through our eyes; who were unable to experience all this in person, the photos we captured through our tiny camera would be priceless.

As we drove our cars into the 17 mile drive, the excitement of having caught a glimpse of the ocean made us follow the dotted lines on the map right up to a place called the Bird Rock. The drive through the woods interspersed with photogenic guest houses and private properties was invigorating. I rolled down our windows and opened up the sunroof to let in the sweet smell and sounds of the woods. The moderately tall cypress trees filtering the sunlight and the very tall redwood (sequoia) trees that formed a canopy were the ones we could identify with our limited knowledge of flora of this place. Innumerable and indistinguishable sounds of birds and insects resounded in the woods, their privacy well protected by the thick woods with only their sound let out. Exploring this place on a cycle would have been more enriching if you were prepared to brave the chill winds and this is what we found groups of cyclists had taken to.

Our trails are dictated by the wildlife we spot and this is exactly what happened as we got out of the car and started walking towards the beach. I caught sight of a whitish raptor sitting majestically on a branch of a large tree. I started walking in the direction of the tree to get a closer look. It turned out that there was a walking / jogging trail carved out amidst the bushes that permitted me to get closer to this raptor that was probably resting as it had no intention of taking off. It looked like the black shouldered kite, which is a species we are familiar with back home. However, being unsure, I noted down some of the characteristics of the bird. Ratheesh, who had till now plans to walk along the road, joined me in my excitement. Walking along the same trail led us down to the beach. The white sand cushioned our soles as we walked towards the water. I missed the freedom of running barefoot in the soft sand as I had my boots on due to the cold weather. Any thoughts of baring my sole evaporated as I touched the water with my fingertips; it was ice cold even as the sun shone brightly above us.

Although I had expected the bird rock to be a huge rock amidst the water where the birds roosted, which it turned out to be, however, in comparison to the vast expanse of water, this rock appeared quite small. Never before had I seen such a vast expanse of water as the Pacific and it was extremely emotional and overwhelming to experience this magnanimity. It made everything around it feel small, the boats, the whales, the rocks and the ever-pervasive human ego. I just stood there frozen in time, just amazed by the ocean with my numbness broken down occasionally by the beauty of this scenery. The water looked copper-sulphate blue overall with a greenish-blue border along the coast where it met the shallow floor lined with algae. I sat there, on the white shores watching the huge waves forming and breaking. The warm Californian sun ensured I sat there without having to worry about cold. It was the perfect weather to be at the sea, even though, I would agree that we lose out on the fun of running into the water in our bathing suits. But if you want to just soak in the sights peacefully, without having to bump into a lot of noisy people, it was the perfect season as the crowd was minimal and the views were extremely clear. Without a sign of clouds or fog, I could see the clear blue sky meeting the blue waters as long as my eyes could stretch.

Photographs have an interesting quality; they can mesmerize you with visuals creating a sense of happiness that is often accompanied by warmth. What they fail to convey is the chill winds that would be blowing at the time the photo was taken. When I look at the photographs of this place, I could see a bright sun shining above cool clear blue water creating a perfect setting for settling down in your swimwear with a book in your hand. However, here were two people dressed like eskimos as if they were photo-shopped into this setting from a far-away cold land.

Although the 17-mile drive promised a lot more view spots, I was content watching the far away seals and sea lions and enjoying the breathtaking scenery at the bird rock. The rock was cohabited by sea-lions, seals, pelicans, cormorants and a few other bird species. The sea-lions, with their paddle legs crawled on the rock busy feeding their young ones. It was interesting to watch such a huge animal dragging on its modified legs, it looked as though it was too heavy to lift itself up and walk. But the same body structure worked extremely well for them under water. The seals were smaller in size and were showing off their shiny fur, basking in the sun. The pelicans were busy feeding and occasionally a large group would take to the sky in perfectly synchronized formations and enhance the beauty of the clear blue sky. Sitting here, watching these magnificent creatures in the company of seagulls was one of the most cherished moments.

As an icing to the cake, we could also spot the grey whales very far away through our binoculars. It was first the spout my eyes caught and then my heart started racing, I knew what it was. My eyes started following the trail and then I could see a part of its body come above the surface only for a second and again vanish below the water. But this was enough to get me excited.

“The lone Cypress”, a medium sized cypress tree which enjoys special attention due to its picture postcard looks as it stands at the edge of the island with the vast sea in the background, was our next destination. The tree, although attracts a lot of visitors for its visual treat, is a great example of how cypress trees can adapt to harsh climate, hard, rocky ground and stand strong for centuries. We clicked the customary clichéd shots of this tree and proceeded to our next destination.

Of the other places we visited on the way, a significant one was a beach at the end of our 17-mile journey – Carmel by the Sea.

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