“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.
Sounds like a very special place. Lucky you. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks! It was a nice visit and worth a few long days in the car!
The best places usually are!
San Diego is my hometown. We don’t live there anymore, but Torrey Pines is still one of my favorite places on earth! That’s where my husband and I used to meet for dinner when we were dating. We’d grab something to eat, sit on the beach, and watch the sunset. This was before the parking area was regulated and you could stay as late as you wanted.
Your pictures are gorgeous! Makes me miss this lovely beach! Thanks for sharing.
Oh wow thanks so much for sharing! I can picture how romantic that must have been. I kept thinking of how nice it would be to have some wine at sunset. I really love San Diego. The climate is so nice, it has so much greenery and lots to do and explore. Where do you live now? Thanks so much for sharing this memory with me. 😌
Another place to put on my list for the next visit to our older daughter. Go, Big 10!
Does your daughter live in San Diego Janet? You should definitely go to Torrey Pines! You would love it! 🙂
She lives in Pasadena, Nicole.
That sounds nice!
This place looks and sounds magical! I think it would be a favorite of mine too if I ever lived nearby.
Yes there is something quite spectacular about the wide open water of the ocean. I’ve always lived by water but only lakes. I love water.
What a beautiful place. Wonderful to see more images after seeing the stunning one on Instagram.
Thanks Sue! I sure love it there. I really want to someday do a drive from South to North along the ocean of California and continue onwards. One of those bucket list dreams!
Great read as usual. I enjoy your photos – especially the stairs, they are gorgeous. It seems you had a great day there. I can imagine – travelling around the world with your family is something I would love to do as well.
You should really try to go a couple of thousand miles to the north. We have tons of precious shores around as well.
Thanks! I love your photos as well. They remind me a little bit of the North Shore of Lake Superior here in Minnesota. Yes, Canada is a gorgeous country. Much there to explore. Thanks for the comment.
What a beautiful place. And wow! you got some fabulous shots.
Thanks Alison! The shots don’t do it justice as I am not good at taking photos in full light! I still need to learn this skill! But it was quite beautiful. It is really cold here now so I think I will go back and look at those photos again and close my eyes to pretend I’m there! 🙂
What a glorious place – somewhere to check out next time we are in the US.
Yes it is amazing! 😌
Take me with you! 🙂 🙂 My favourite shot is that first one of the bluffs with the rocks in the foreground. Stunning! You know I could linger there for hours, Nicole. 🙂
Weird to watch your children growing up through the blog. Your son, so tall now! A healthy and happy 2016 to you all 🙂
I am sure you could Jo! It would be perfect for one of your walks! Yes it is five years since I started this blog and the kids have grown up way to fast. My son is very tall for his age and almost as tall as me at only 11. 😌
Beautiful captures! I so loved SD. Your children are grow fast. 🙂
Thanks Amy! It is scary how fast they are growing up! I often wish time would just slow down a little bit but of course that is impossible!