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Redwoods, beach, kitesurfing


Today Jim (did I mention Jim M is visiting?) and I wandered southward a bit. The original plan was to go to the beach, but then it occurred to me that the Henry Cowell Redwoods were on the way to the beach, so we stopped there first.

The redwoods were, as always, magnificent, stately, awe-inspiring. (Somehow whenever I'm in a peaceful quiet woods, I start thinking “Glooms of the live-oaks, beautiful-braided and woven,” even though redwood groves and live-oak marshes are not even remotely alike, and even though I've never actually seen the latter.) Trees that have been there for two thousand years. It's mind-boggling.

Oh, and we ducked into the Fremont tree, which I had never known about before; a small triangular opening in the base of the tree opens out into a huge internal space, big enough for at least a dozen people to stand upright.

After a stop in the visitors' center and another stop in the gift shop, we got back in the car and continued onward. We stopped for lunch at a forgettable Chinese place in Santa Cruz, then went to the Natural Bridges monarch butterfly landing place. It's a month early for monarchs, but we saw about a dozen of them flitting about.

Then down to the beach. Jim took photos of the natural bridge (anyone know why the name of the place is plural? I've only ever seen the one natural bridge there) while I sat in the sun and sand, and I waded into the water a little way (I had dressed too warmly, thinking it would be a cool day), and it was all very pleasant.

When it was time to head home, it occurred to me that we could go up the coast on Highway 1 instead of back over 17, and Jim said sure. So we drove on up the coast, and chatted, and I snuck occasional glances at the views, and we rounded a corner—

And there in the air were a dozen bright-colored perfect arcs swooping above the water.

And I thought, wow! and then I thought, whoa, paragliders? This low over the ocean?

And we finished rounding the corner and there were more like two dozen of them, swooping over the beach, and they were smaller than I'd thought, and I thought, wait, these are kites?

Because they were all the same size and shape, and in a multitude of colors, and they were gorgeous.

Somehow, something about the semicircular (?) arc was just deeply, immensely satisfying. And seeing them gliding and swinging all together took my breath away.

So I pulled over into a convenient parking area, and we walked across the highway to the beach—

And then we saw that they weren't just kites.

It was a couple of dozen people on surfboards, holding (and being pulled by) these amazing mini-parasails.

I've seen windsurfers before, but I've never seen anything like this.

So I stood there on the beach, gaping at them, and one in particular caught my eye, for no particular reason. I watched as he or she swept in toward shore, turned, swept out again toward a small wave—

And then was airborne.

In slow motion.

The surfer (still on their board) lifted up into the air, hung there suspended for a long moment, turned a hundred and eighty degrees, and gently dropped back down onto the water, and continued outward. All, of course, while continuing to hold onto the sail.

I'm out of superlatives. It was totally amazing.

I watched the same surfer for several minutes longer; they did several more jumps, usually appearing to wipe out after each one (but somehow getting back upright and on the board within a couple of seconds; the board may've been attached to their feet like a snowboard, I'm not sure). Jim came back from wandering along the beach to get better photos and video, and I told him about the jumps, and then we both saw another surfer do an even higher and slower and more amazing jump.

Eventually, we continued up the coast, past the Pigeon Point Lighthouse (which brought back fond memories of a certain wedding out thataway) and Pescadero, and then inland on 84, down 280, and home.

I think I've been a little bit sick the past couple of days: occasionally drippy nose, and a kind of foggy head. (Yesterday I was seriously groggy all day; today was somewhat better, but still tired and a little spacey.) But I'm really glad we went out there, and especially glad that we happened to decide to take the coast road.

I wondered if this sport was called “parasurfing” or something. Turns out it's kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding. If you've never seen it, you can get a bit of a sense of it in a video (skip ahead to about 2:30 to bypass the preliminary stuff).

I don't think I would actually want to do it; it requires too many skills I don't have. It gives the impression of being like surfing (which I've never done and I suspect wouldn't be much good at) while attempting to control a giant kite that can lift you off the ground (which I doubt I have the strength or coordination to do well). But boy did it look fun.

Reminded me that I've been wanting to try hang-gliding and/or sailing for a long time; I should make sure I get moving on that before my leave ends.


Oh, this sounds so beautiful!

And yes, I think you should try hang-gliding (or parasailing? if you're interested) or sailing or both. I did a little sailing as a kid. I don't know that I would do it now, since *I* would be responsible for storing the boat and getting it to and from the water :-) and I spend most of my on-water time in a canoe. But I think you would like it.

Wear sunscreen.

Thanks for writing about this! Sounds like a beautiful day.

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