Beach trip and what I learned from a sea anemone

The day after our wonderful Sonoma visit, we were back in the car and headed towards the ocean.  Our first stop in Half Moon Bay was Maverick’s, the famous big-wave surf break about a quarter mile off the coast.  During the winter, waves here can measure up to 50 feet and when you combine that with the freezing water, rocky beach and numerous shark sighting, it’s a pretty fearsome place to paddle out!  Though it wasn’t breaking that day and all we could see was the spot of flat water that produces these giant waves, it was still really cool to be looking at a surf break I used to read about all the time growing up.

After a picnic overlooking Maverick’s, we headed down the coast-hugging Highway 1 to Cowell Ranch Beach.  Half Moon Bay gets a bad rap for not having much to do other than the beach, but in my opinion that’s the perfect beach town!   It’s undeveloped by big resorts and still very much an old coastal agricultural town.  After a nice walk through some farmland, we came up to the bluff and saw the most wonderful little crescent of a beach.  We claimed a spot in the pebbly sand and didn’t move for a couple of hours, just soaking up the sun (actually shining that day despite its famous reputation for being obliterated by constant fog!) and listening to the waves crash ashore.

The beach was bookended by a cliff on one edge and a set of rocks on the other.  We climbed up onto the rocks to see what was on the other side and found a completely inaccessible piece of pristine beach identical to ours.  It was so cool to be sitting on the rocks jutting out into the Pacific and watch waves break on a shore we couldn’t get to.

We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the town of Half Moon Bay before driving ten miles north along the coast to Pacifica for dinner.  There’s really nothing more beautiful than driving Highway 1 as the sun is getting low over the water, making it shimmer in the half light.  After dinner we headed back towards town and stopped at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

This particular beach is known for excellent tide-pooling and we were there just before low tide at around 7:00 p.m.  Though the tide wasn’t really low enough that night to expose the whole reef, it turned out to be a magical experience!  When we got down to the beach, a whole community of seals and their newborn pups were just off to our left.  As we walked back up and over the cliff to get to the other side of the beach (can’t walk through the seal community!), we found the trail went through a cypress forest hugging the shoreline.  Talk about beautiful!

The other section of the beach was completely empty and we could walk right out onto the reef.  We stayed here until the sun went down and it was one of those magical travel experiences we’ll never forget – just the two of us on the most beautiful beach, searching for sea anemones in the reef as the sun turns everything around us silver and gold before slipping away into the water.  It felt like we were the only people on Earth, just enjoying God’s creation together.

One thing Charlie noticed is that some of the anemones looked more vibrant than others.  These were the ones that had made their homes deeper in the reef and were still under water even when the tide was at its lowest.  The others were in more shallow areas of the reef and thus exposed to the ebb and flow of nutrients, making them appear duller.

In thinking about this later, the Lord showed us how the same goes for us and our spiritual nourishment.  If I have a shallow faith in which I’m not constantly nourished by God’s word and prayer, I leave myself open to be affected by life’s ebb and flow.  Yet if I make my home deep in His word, then no matter how low things get I am always fed and affected more by the nourishment of my Savior than the depletion of the world.

This really hit home since Charlie and I committed to reading through the Bible chronologically this year.  I know God wants to use this time to deeply nourish us and build on the foundation of His word in our hearts.  Life can be hard and the effects of living in the world threaten to deplete us.  I want a well-nourished faith that is in constant contact with the Living Water I know will carry me through.

See more pictures from our beach trip here.



Filed under California

2 responses to “Beach trip and what I learned from a sea anemone

  1. Mark

    Thanks for sharing your exploration. I’m so glad you found this place and hope you’ll both go back! Dad

  2. sheila

    What GREAT pictures! I would love to see it all first-hand, the crashing waves, rocks and cliffs, so different from the beach I’m familiar with. It’s hard to imagine a forest right next to the ocean.

    Thanks so much for sharing,
    love to you both,

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