The Sonoma Coast State Park, Pure Bliss for Max

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Max and I found dog heaven on a recent trip along the California coast. The Sonoma Coast State Park offered a choice of more than half a dozen different beaches, all of them dog-friendly,

The seventeen-mile stretch of sandy beaches, secluded coves, and craggy rocks that form the park is located less than a two hour drive north of San Francisco. oOn our late January trip I searched for a beach with just the right kind of access. The parking lot needed to be close to the shore. Yes, lazy me wanted an easy stroll to the beach, but that wasn’t the only reason. As soon as Max exited the car and sniffed the sea, he would be prone to leaping off tall rocks to get to the water, a feat he tried some years back.

On that initial visit Max was an energetic two-year-old  who had never before seen the ocean. His enthusiasm knew no bounds. We had parked high above the sea and descended a narrow trail to reach the beach a thousand feet below. Scrub brush enclosed the trail most of the way so Max couldn’t see the water.

  • img_1408But then, when the trail widened atop a huge boulder, the ocean came into plain sight. There was also a remaining drop in elevation of twenty feet between us and the beach. The sight of Pacific Ocean triggered Max’s instinctive love of water. He flew into the air straight off the rock.

I stared at Max, frozen in shock. My mind registered the seconds between his leap and his landing as a slow motion movie. My heart pounded with fear that many of poor Max’s bones were about to shatter. To my amazement, he landed, shook himself, and raced to the surf. He happily immersed himself in the sea.

Over and over, Max ran into the waves and back to me, wagging his wet tail with joy. The ocean was his holy grail and he had found it.

img_1404But this year, Max was older and calmer. The trek to the shore was uneventful. I walked along the sun-splashed sandy beach while Max sniffed at the kelp and crab shells.

Intrigued by the magnificence of the surf crashing ashore and curling back to the sea, I failed to notice the black sand beneath my feet was wet for a reason. With little warning, one of the mesmerizing magnificent waves rumbled toward us nonstop. Foaming saltwater swirled wildly over and around my previously dry feet and legs. All the warnings to be aware of the dangers of fast moving waves are true. Fortunately, this was a fairly small wave.

While I scampered away from the ocean, Max pranced away without even getting wet. At the end of our morning at the beach, Max was sandy but perfectly dry. This year I was the wet one.

Many websites offer helpful information. This one is comprehensive:  The Sonoma Coast State Park.

The Tideline is edited by Marianna Shearer.

Packing light, the things we carry

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Max prances to the door with a toy in his moth when he senses the slightest chance of an outing. Lately, the object of his affection is a stuffed green alligator. HIs packing list, if he had one, would include one item, a stuffed toy.

I travel with as few items as possible to avoid the hassle of checking luggage. My newest treasure is a travel vest. I love my Scott eVest as much as Max likes his toy reptile.

The vest’s pockets that zip close hold my passport, phone, phone charger, cash, credit and debit cards, and cash. The other pockets carry my prescription medicine, a small brush, a toothbrush, toothpaste, an eyeliner pencil, cotton squares, Argon oil, baby oil, a Lush shampoo bar, conditioner, sunscreen, deodorant a plastic razor, Q-tips, and a nail file.

I toss in a nail clipper even though a TSA agent may confiscate it. A medium-sized pocket holds a pen and journal. The large pocket in the back is a space for clothes: a wrinkle-free dress, an extra top, leggings, socks, and lingerie.

A Sholdit brand infinity style scarf provides yet another zippered compartment to secure some cash, an extra credit card, comb, and lipstick. Max also wears a scarf when he travels. His is a sporty bandana in red, blue, or green, depending on the season.My shoulder bag holds a MacBook, an adaptor cable, and an extra set of clothes.

I’m bound for Florida this week, so I’ll tuck in a pair of sandals. While I’m at the Key West Literary Seminar, Max will stay  home with Nick and his stuffed alligator. I’ll be missing both of my guys.