In every walk with nature, one receives far more than [one] seeks.
These words of John Muir greet us as we begin to explore the Muir Woods National Monument. As we are surrounded by stately redwoods that dwarf us and let just enough light through to illuminate us, those words float away from the sign and into our souls and perform their duty as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Pacific Coast Highway I’m most accustomed to is made of quiet two lane roads. It’s straddled by farms and steep cliffs and secret beaches. Aside from the farmland and a home or lighthouse here and there, it’s a place where an understated wildness can still thrive; where solitude is welcomed by the most perfect natural company.
Santa Monica’s Highway 1 is the opposite of that. The car-laden pavement spreads to the edge of an unnaturally large beach that is flattened regularly by the tractors that drive on it to pick up trash. A narrower bit of pavement runs through the sand for bikes (and pedestrians and rollerbladers too — if you don’t mind justifying your presence to an angry biker or three). Perpendicular to that are paved paths that lead to the ocean, because heaven forbid you get a little sand between your toes on your beach day.
It’s a bit of a silly scene and oh so LA. It’s definitely not as beautiful as the more wholly craggy and undisturbed coast I’m used to, but it is endearing. I like the purposefulness, the activeness and the accessibility of it all.