Dangerous Compassions

strange trip: relatives, Big Basin, Ano Nuevo, Santa Cruz

We are home safe from the strange trip that felt really long but was only a few days.  I liked seeing my nieces and nephew, but I went to bed early each night from being wiped out.

After the time seeing my relatives, Ming and I drove to Big Basin.  We had wanted to camp but thought there was no way we’d get a spot.  But we were surprised to learn they did have spaces, so we decided to camp for the night.  We took a short hike to Slippery Rock and Sempervirens Falls.  I am not usually a fan of waterfalls, but this one was gorgeous and subtle.  I liked the rock and the beautiful pool that the waterfall’s water flowed into.

We enjoyed the greenness.  We enjoyed hearing ravens squawk.  I bought a postcard for a friend.

In the morning, we woke up early.  We were up at 6 and packed up our gear and tent.  Then we went on another two hikes.  One was around the short loop trail that has Mother of the Forest and Father of the Forest.  Usually the trail is packed, but there was literally no one else on it because of how early we were there.

The second hike was on the Skyline to the Sea trail.  We almost made it to the Maddock Cabin, but we were tired and turned around.  We hiked about three miles in the morning.  Again we saw no one else on the trail.

Then we asked about Ano Nuevo State Park since we had a pass that would let us go to any state park for free that day.  It looked really close on the map.  The worker we spoke with was enthusiastic about Ano Nuevo–he rangered there over the winter–and we decided to go there to see Elephant Seals.  He told us the walk to see them was only one mile.

It took a long time to get to Ano Nuevo, and we stopped at an elaborate fruit stand to ask if we’d missed it.  “Eight miles north,” the worker said.  We kept going and went to the visitor’s center where we bought more postcards and talked to the nice docent.  She gave us visitor permits saying the rules.

Turns out the closest place to view elephant seals was a mile and a half away, one way, so we ended up hiking another three miles.  This was in full sun.  I had a hat, but I still felt very exposed.

There was beautiful yellow lupine on the trail, but I was hot, sweaty, dirty, and exhausted.  I enjoyed the plant life and views of beaches.  I enjoyed pelicans.

But when we got to our destination, rather than the ten or so elephant seals we’d been told about, there were two and a half elephant seals.  The half was a dead elephant seal portion.  It was really gross.  I felt let down and sad. 

So we took the trek back.  A short portion of the trail was over sand dunes, and walking was difficult.  I was even more hot, sweaty, dirty, and exhausted.  I got cranky and felt like the excursion was not worth it.  We’d seen lots, lots more elephant seals before at a viewing area near Hearst Castle months before.  I was writing a bad yelp review of Ano Nuevo in my head and trying not to cry. 

Then we drove back to Santa Cruz to see the mission.  It was small and a half-sized replica, if I understood correctly.  But we had a nice moment sitting on a bench in the courtyard.

Then we went to Santa Cruz’s beach boardwalk, which required more walking, and it’s an amusement park.  I was not ready for the noise and crowds.  Ming suggested we go to the arcade and look for my favorite video game Bust a Move II.  “I don’t think I can handle the arcade,” I told him.  So we walked around in the sun some more, and I felt like hiding.

Finally we made it to Berkeley to my favorite Indian-Pakistani restaurant where I drank two cups of chai, which may be why I’m up still at 1 in the morning.  I changed into shorts and brushed my teeth.  I felt somewhat better.  I enjoyed our conversation.  Ming was very nice to me and listened to me complain about how I was feeling.

The drive home from Berkeley was easy.  I wrote a poem in the truck.  And that’s the story of our trip.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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