San Onofre beach is a state park an hour and a half south of LA, and next to a military base. It has a world famous surf beach (Trestles) and you have to pay to go there. The man at the booth waved us through but we stopped to pay the $15 day use fee, he said we didn’t need to if we were headed to the beach. The 3 other vechiles in our group had to pay. We figured we got through because Pat looks like he’s in the military and our rental car has Texas plates. It didn’t fell weird not paying the fee. I am not accustomed to paying to go the beach.
It is however, one of the only beaches in Southern California where you can still park right on the beach and still be blocked from highway view and noise. Apparently in summer to get down to this beach, you’d have to wait in a queue of cars for 30 minutes that back up the highway.
It was unusually quiet for that beach that day. There was a Native American group doing a ceremony and a few old surfers and us. Four families celebrating Ellie turning 11.
I avoided the huge black sea cucumbers as I waded out, over the beautiful stones, in the water. Dived under and had 5 seconds of bliss back in the Pacific Ocean. As I turned around I saw a huge nuclear power plant that was blocked from sight at the parking lot. Out in the water, the 2 huge nuclear cooling towers were smack in my face. I’m at a beach, sandwiched between a nuclear power plant and a military base.
For dinner we made calzones wrapped in tinfoil and cooked on the campfire coals. Ellie wanted pizza for her birthday and it was the best we could manage. Nick always has these little quips “Thought up by Amy, executed by Pat.”
The tide came in, the sun started to set. It was dreamy. It was a great day.
Then it was 8.03pm, and we were all packed up waiting in the car. Pat was checking the surfboard tie downs when a white truck pulled up right in front of us, it was the ranger. There was no “Hi guys, how’s it going?” or “Hey, just to let you know, we’re closing the gates soon.” Instead he shined a blaring white light at us. The type of white light that you imagine catches people running from prison. Then the recording came on, loud and clear. “You are in violation of park hours. Leave immediately.”
We said goodbye, everyone returned to their homes in LA. On the drive I wished we were returning to a house too. Our house. I wished we could drive and drive and end up back on Oceanbeach Rd. Not to a bus in a campground. Pat felt the same way. I love life on the road, a nomadic existence, but it’s not always beer and skittles.