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Simon’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 26 Apr 2008

Location: On the beach, California, USA

MapToday is my One Month Anniversary of cooling my heels in the US of A – that was quick!

The CNN Weather Report was right – and not for the first time. Today the temperature is hovering around 88, so all good intentions of ‘having a bit of a drive’ have been dispensed with in favour of simply hanging about Goleta beach. Yes, again!

CNN used a great phrase that I intend to coin for the remainder of the trip: Beach Relief! With an on-shore breeze, the heat of the sun was slightly reduced on the coast when compared with inland, so the weather reporter vouchsafed that ‘Beach Relief’ from the searing temperatures was available to all who lived in the oven-like valley.

I have a sort of triangular ‘patch’ that I occupy that’s split between the sand itself, a spot on a grassy bank, and a seat under a tree. I move between these points depending on how warm I get and I’m sure the plethora of families BBQ-ing around communal pits and knots of students throwing footballs must raise an eyebrow at that slightly red-of-face guy who seems to be constantly on the move!

As the tide was out, I went for a looong walk right along the shoreline and soon left the sunbathers behind as the beach itself became more isolated. Fringed by the Specific [sic] Ocean on one side and towering cliffs on the other, the sand was flat and, on occasion, crossed by small streams that had originated at the top of the rocks. Being a shallow and slow-moving channel the water there was very warm and in stark contrast to the still chilly seawater, so much so that you actually hope it is only water and not a substance that has originated from (cough) another more municipal source...

In fact, the crest of the cliff does boast a sprinkling of exclusive domiciles and even though it would seem that their precarious setting is very much an impermanent one, the swathes of brightly-coloured flowers and the long walkways down to beach level do make you wonder who could live in a house that that. I remember driving around Beverly Hills many years ago and being equally enamoured by the fort-sized houses there, but these were even more aspirational. Well, at least until they crash to the beach...

A rumble of earthquake proportions from below reminded me that I hadn’t eaten anything since an obligatory bowl of raisin bran hours previously, so I started to make my way back to the main beach to scrounge up some lunch. On the way there I passed a nude (female) sunbather, a practice that, according to local literature, is ‘tolerated’ although not ‘encouraged’ (the botty-baring, not the noticing of the same...). Fully understanding that it’s rude to stare (and ultimately to point – ba dum tish!), I steadfastly fixed my gaze out to sea until I felt safe enough to ‘look back to ensure things were OK’. As this is a blog for all ages, I’ll leave it there...

After enjoying a hearty calamari steak sandwich with home fries (which was delicious), I made my way back to my loyal tree and just watched the world go by for a while, which was just what I needed.

When I got home my face had that nice sort of tight feeling that tells you you’ve been out in the sun for most of the day without actually burning to a crisp (go factor 30!) and, too tired to do anything more constructive, I found a movie (Harry Potter, no less...) and fell into bed.