Crystal Cove State Park in California. I found it in a magazine. The picture alone was the selling point. I had been here prior, the summer before when I camped three miles up in the hills and bluffs alongside the ocean. Up there, remotely camping, with the ocean ahead and below on one side and the glow of Los Angeles in the distance behind me was a truly unique camping experience. I was in a super busy area of the country but found a secret area of peace and solitude.
This summer I was back at Crystal Cove, just for the day. I had left Ricky’s home in the morning, when he left for work. Today I needed to make my way towards Las Vegas where I would fly the next morning back to Chicago. Ricky had recommended that I save my drive to for later in the evening, because if I tried during the day, the roads would be ridiculously busy.
I started talking to someone at Crystal Cove, who also recommended I leave later, so I decided just to make a day of it at Crystal Cove. Although the campsites right next to the beach are very popular, the beach at Crystal Cove is not. The park is located in Laguna Beach, and so people chose the more popular beach named after the town. That’s where all the action is. Here it’s a little quieter. Crystal Cove has a series of trails in the hills and bluffs, the beach, and the camping. It’s all accessible from one main parking lot. It’s a very clear and well managed state park.
When I pulled into the lot, I parked my car at the far end where it was quiet and still, where I could be free to spread out, because my first order of business was to clean out my car and pack up. I had lived a month out of this car. I had things tucked in every nook and cranny. I had camping supplies, souvenirs, food, sand, and all sorts of odds and ends I had accumulated.
I pulled out my suitcases and spread them open in the parking lot. I opened all four doors of the vehicle and I began to organize. I thought the whole scene looked ridiculous, as I was so spread out, so I took a photo.
As I pulled out my pins and stickers for Capitol Reef and Arches, I began to get sentimental. It seemed so long ago, yet it was on the same trip. I had traveled so far and seen so many things. I tried brushing the red Utah sand out of my car, which had accumulated around the driver’s seat. I gathered up all my park maps from Saguaro all the way to Great Basin and secured them together in a bag from Disneyland. I had my Rocky Mountain tie-dye t-shirt, my sweet L.A. kicks, the flyer on the plague from Lake Tahoe— I figured I could toss that. I found my map of Nevada with the ghost towns highlights by the park ranger —I wanted to keep that. I had two SD memory cards full of photos, a tin cup from the general store in Moab so I could cook oatmeal over the fire, and my journal with pages exploring my thoughts on the Canyonlands.
There were so many pieces of my adventure to pack up, and it was all so meaningful. Everything held a story, and I felt very accomplished. I had completed the journey, and I had grown in many ways. I could say I grew in experience while also growing in understanding of myself, life, my canyons, and the world around me. Along with that my imagination grew, having visited many different environments and landscapes I had never before experienced, my ability to reimagine, revisit, and wander around these places in my mind would now be in my capacity.
When I was done packing up everything I put on my flip flops and swimming trunks and headed down the short sandy path to the beach. Crystal Cove is named appropriately. The beach is located in a cove and to me crystal is congruent with the beauty this place presents. Some associate the term clear with crystal. The water is nice but not clear as crystal. To me crystal also seems delicate and fine, almost like a gem, and this place is a gem. Its fine and exquisite in beauty —blue sky, blue ocean, sandy beach, sharp rocks with the waves dancing dramatically upon them. I took in the deep salty air, drug my toes into the sand, listened to old man ocean endlessly speak. I layed down and felt the salty breeze blow across my skin and the sun surround me in warmth.
After resting there a while the sky grew cloudy and the air brisk. The wind caused beautiful waves to crash into rocks extra tall and crescendo into the air on the sides of the beach. I went for a walk, and saw something dark pop out of the water a short distance off and remain. It was a seal swimming toward land in the foamy sea.
Out in the distance above the water light beams broke through the clouds sending spotlights down upon the ocean, reminiscent of the beams shooting into the dark crevices of the Canyonlands and illuminating the mountains peaks in the Rocky Mountains. They served as a reminder of what I had learned throughout this trip, how God desires to illuminate the dark places in our lives, make them beautiful, and take us out of our canyons leading us to the mountain tops, which are places of fulfillment and peace.
The ocean, the way it roars, the way it endlessly speaks, the way it crashes, soothes, refreshes, evokes feeling, and is always moving is a reminder of the life God has breathed into the world. Not only that, but the ever present waves remind us of the every constant presence of God in all of nature. God I believe is the author of movement-—to feel the breeze and hear the ocean is to feel the movement of God.
When the wind grew even stronger and the air cooler I decided to return to my car and begin the final step of my summer adventure. The plan was to drive to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area just outside of Las Vegas to camp and wake up early for my flight back to Chicago the next morning. There however would be a few unexpected occurrences that would add just a little more story to be told.
Thank you for joining me on my summer adventure of 2016 here on my blog. Although there is more story to be told, this completes my blogging on this particular trip. To join me on the remainder of the journey and learn more about the adventure thus far, read my book Canyonlands coming out Christmas 2018!