Sunday, June 28, 2009

Miramar Road Trip: Retreat from the Heat

Sunset on the mighty Pacific, the western edge of America. You can see the last of the sun's rays reflected in a couple of the windows, lower right.

The same view at dawn, next morning. You can see why they dubbed the small bay "Half Moon."

It was really hot this morning when I made the decision to head for cooler weather. The oddest thing I've discovered about California is the lack of air conditioning. "You'll never need it," people say. "The heat here is dry heat."

Dry heat can make you just as wet as wet heat and in the wet-heat-climates, people have sensibly turned to air conditioning (Florida comes to mind). It's not a new thing. It's available everywhere. Except in the San Francisco Bay Area, apparently. They think it isn't green-appropriate. But actually, the most environmentally sound thing to do (in my opinion) is to air condition every house on the planet and keep those machines going full blast twenty-four/seven. That way we'll use up all that nasty petroleum and then be forced to discover greener alternatives.

This is the long way 'round of telling you I headed for the coast this morning. If they won't move the air conditioning to me, I'll just have to move to the air conditioning. It is only 23 miles to the Pacific Ocean from my digs, over a small mountain and into the lovely cool. Everyone else had the same idea, so the road was jammed. But it wasn't Philadelphia jammed. It was just slightly slower than usual. Fortunately, my car has an air-conditioner.

Leaving the Santa Clara Valley it was 100F at 1:00 p.m. and as I--along with the rest of the world--coasted down toward the Pacific, the thermometer dropped to 77F. Aaaah.

I left home with only my toothbrush and without hotel reservations. But it was Sunday and I bet on finding a vacancy.

Miramar Beach with the tide coming in. It is just south of San Francisco.

Within the city limits of Half Moon Bay, but still well outside of town, I dropped out of the traffic on Highway 1, and found a little beach village called Miramar. It was charming and just far enough off the road to be nice and quiet, except for the pounding of the surf. Looking around Miramar, I found an inn right on the beach. The Landis Shores has just eight rooms. Breakfast--made to order at the time of your choice--and afternoon hors d'oeuvres are included in the fare, and, if you come Sunday through Thursday you can make a bargain with the owner and his wife on price. Ellen and Ken Landis are sommelier (she) and chef (he) and they built the inn from the ground up.

The Landis Shores on Miramar Beach, owned by Ellen and Ken Landis.

My room wasn't quite ready, so I had the chance to take a stroll along the stretch of the California Coastal Trail that runs adjacent to the hotel. I'm not big on hiking. I prefer to get my exercise on a treadmill at the gym and do my walking among the counters at Saks. So it takes a really nice trail to capture my attention. This certainly did that.

The California Coastal Trail was busy today, but the people I saw must have been lost in the mist when I took this photo.

It is perched along the cliffs just over the ocean, and this stretch, which runs about eight miles, is surrounded by acres of native coastal foliage. It is paved for strollers, rollerblades, bicycles and people like me who like to walk on flat surfaces. The wildlife was buzzing as I walked along and the sky was full of mist, swirling around from the sea. I could feel the sting of salt on my lips as I dallied, taking pictures of the surf below, the beach houses adjacent, and the trail itself.

A beach cottage along the Coastal Trail.

I've complained about California's distaste for air conditioning, so now let me tell you something California has done a much better job of than has my "other" home state of Florida: preserving its shoreline. In 1972, California voters approved the funds and the plan for this Coastal Trail and the state has been putting the pieces of it together since then. No high-rise condos mar the view along this stunning coast, and everyone can thus enjoy its beauty.

A gorgeous beach house along the trail. I'm sure the upkeep is a real pain in the neck.

The wealthy have low-impact homes along the path, and the working stiffs have easy access to the beaches. In Florida the view would be blocked by enormous high-rise buildings full of concrete condos and if one questioned the efficacy of this, one would hear the dreaded words "private property rights" as a code for unbridled development.

Many of the fences along the trail are of old, recycled redwood lumber, which holds up well in the salty air of the coast.

As if people all over the this great land had not limited those rights repeatedly, for the benefit of the whole, with planning and zoning rules of all kinds. For more than thirty years my home state of California has been getting it right. Florida is beautiful too, but I could never understand why it was so far behind California in this. Air conditioning, Florida has heard of. Coastal preservation? Not so much.

Looking from the Coastal Trail, back toward Highway 1. No big high-rise buildings mar the view.

The California Coastal Trail, near Miramar Beach.

California Coastal Trail

Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn

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Florida Beach Basics said...

great post, and you're certainly correct in our care and treatment of beaches here in Florida. there are some nice mini-airconditioner units that might be appropriate for your digs - marge

Robin Chapman said...

I knew my friends from Florida would have some good air conditioning suggestions. And on the green side, you are lucky, Marge, to live near the Canaveral National Seashore, the only really big stretch of Florida Atlantic beach that is preserved, thanks to NASA.

Devon C. said...

Preserving the Florida coastline would also help provide a natural hurricane buffer.

Robin Chapman said...

What a concept that is! It would also save a lot of insurance companies from bankruptcy (and thus benefit all rate-payers) paying for repairs on buildings that should not have been in the storm surge area in the first place!