“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow them”. – Louisa May Alcott
Sometimes you find places in the world that are truly special. That is how I feel about Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. During a visit last April, I immediately fell in love with its dramatic windswept ocean views from the jagged cliffs covered in its namesake, Torrey Pines. I swore if I lived in San Diego that I’d be a frequent visitor to this magical place. Little did I know I’d be back visiting San Diego so soon.
Over the Christmas holiday in Arizona, we decided to do another road trip to San Diego from my parents home in Tucson. My husband, a devoted college football fan bought us tickets to the Holiday Bowl where we would see our alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Badgers, defeat California’s beloved USC 23 to 21 in an exciting, action-packed game. Besides the game, we would have a little time to revisit some of our favorite places in San Diego.
After a six-hour car ride, we didn’t have much time to spare for our visit to Torrey Pines. We only had about an hour and a half until sunset. Yet, it was so stunningly beautiful that we had to do a short hike down from the top of coastal bluffs to the beach. The lighting wasn’t the best for taking photos but of course I couldn’t resist. I was amazed by how different the rocks looked at this time of day and how much the color changed with the setting of the sun.
The hike down is not too long. Depending on your speed and the number of stops for photos, you can make it to the bottom in less than thirty minutes. A lot of people prefer to hike up along the road to the top of the reserve where the visitor center is located, and then make the journey down. Since the park closes at sunset which is 6 pm in the winter time, we didn’t have enough time to make the entire journey. Furthermore, we had to leave enough time for the kids to play on the beach.
As we set off our on hike, I let myself fall behind and try to enjoy the moment of being there. The air was stunningly fresh and the sound of the sea instantly brought me an inner calm and peace that I only feel when I’m at my most relaxed state of being. I can see why so many yoga and meditation tracks include the lulling sound of the waves. Nothing can be more relaxing than that beautiful crashing sound against the beach.
The foliage is not as green and full of flowers as it is in the spring or summer but it is equally beautiful. I was surprised to see a few lone cactus alongside the torrey pines. The torrey pines are some of the rarest pines in the world and they flourish here along the coastal bluffs of the park. Here you can see them off in the distance, looking as if they are about to fall off the edge.
The kids and my husband were long gone by the time I reached the last part of the trail. I took a shot of the stairs leading to another part of the park yet to be explored. Despite the pull of desire to climb up these stairs, I wasn’t meant to follow this path yet.
Alas I approached the beach which is what the kids have been waiting for. It is a slow walk down a few steep stairs but we are there in the nick of time. The tide is moving in and soon there will be no beach left.
There is much to explore along the beach. The rising tide has brought in many seashells and rocks to toss back to the ocean, a favorite pastime of the kids. The coastal bluffs are also dramatically changing in color from pale yellow, to pink and a magnificent blood orange color that is so bright it almost hurts your eyes.
Of course I had to take a few family shots. I never seem to be in them however which is not good for the holiday cards each year. I love capturing the beauty of this place and the look of enchantment and delight in my children’s eyes.
I take another set of photos of the rocks and the sunlight on the ocean. It is such a precious time of day.
As the children play along the beach, the sun makes its final surrender within the sky lighting up the bluffs in a brilliant red.
“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud”. – Emile Zola
It is hard to believe that these are the very same bluffs shot in the pictures taken just ten minutes earlier.
And, a few last shots goodbye.
I sincerely hope we make it back to San Diego again soon. It is a wonderful place.