Somewhere Beyond the Sea

If you take Highway 1 for about an hour north of San Francisco, you'll find yourself at my favorite place in the whole world: Point Reyes National Seashore, a nature preserve with expansive beaches, jagged cliffs and rolling green hills. This majestic landscape is in distinctive class of its own. Its beaches are neither sunny and hippie like Venice Beach nor is it exotic and tropical like those in, say, Hawaii. There's nary a palm tree in sight. Instead, the Bay Area's signature fog holds court over the skies, rough winds will lap at you, and it's likely you might not see another soul on the sand for miles around.

I would've never known about this place had it not been for a wrong turn made many years ago by an ex who had intended on taking me to Napa Valley. Even upon realizing his mistake, he kept on driving in the wrong direction anyhow, which, to be honest, unnerved me–at least initially. As we drove further and further from the Golden Gate Bridge, however, the more lush and breathtaking the scenery became. I no longer cared where we landed. The ride itself was mesmerizing and the long stretches of road felt liberating, especially after years of being accustomed to the suffocating confines of Manhattan. 

We finally came upon a small town and stopped into a store to pick up provisions–a bottle of wine, a loaf of sourdough bread and a wedge of blue cheese. "Where are we?" we asked the shop owner. "Point Reyes," she replied. "If you take a turn and go down that road there, you'll find a wild beach." So we followed her advice and took an endless road that wove its way through miles and miles of pastures dotted with grazing dairy cows before finally arriving to what felt like the ends of the Earth.

As we sat on a sand dune with our goods, watching a gorgeous sunset sink into the abyss of the Pacific Ocean, with rabbits and deer darting around in the tall grasses behind us... I remembered thinking: Point Reyes. I must return here one day. I suppose I was afraid that I might never find myself there again because it was a relatively obscure place and required a bit of driving to get to. (I'm terrified of driving.)

While my travels thereafter took me to Spain, Japan, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Caribbean and beyond, I'd never forgotten about the magic of Point Reyes. 

Two years ago, my boyfriend convinced me to go on a motorcycle trip up the coast of California. We stayed in Paso Robles for a night, then rode up through Big Sur and stayed for a few days in Carmel. Our last stop was supposed to be San Francisco. Truth be told, I don't care much for San Francisco at all. It was then that I proposed we extended the boundaries of our trip just a little more and visit this very special place that I happened upon over a decade ago...  

When I was in Point Reyes last weekend, it occurred to me that, sometimes, the memory of how you discovered a place loses its meaning over time, especially when you're there creating new moments with the person you're with. What was past faded into a misty backdrop; what was real was before me... Until that fades away too.

The lyrics to that Beatles song "In My Life" encapsulates this sentiment perfectly:

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more
In my life, I love you more