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September 20, 2011 / annakpf11

Scotty Odyssey—Patrick’s Point

What is there beyond knowing that keeps
calling to me?

—Mary Oliver

Just a few miles up the road from Arcata, we pull into the village of Trinidad. This little community, proclaimed by a plaque to be the oldest settlement on the North Coast, is well worth the small side trip.

Black crags called “sea stacks” dot the small bay, some shaped like giant shark fins. We park the trailer with a view of the ocean, and then hike down to the harbor.

Dave takes photographs while Basil and I chase each other along the scalloped shoreline.

Five miles further up the highway we detour again, into Patrick’s Point State Park, reputed to be one of the most scenic spots on the planet. We don’t plan to spend the night here, just take a look around, but the place draws us in. Set amongst stately Sitka Pine trees, close enough to the cliff edge to hear the surf far below, the campground is so tranquil, so utterly beautiful, that we cannot bear to leave.

We make camp in a peaceful spot, sharing the forest with only a handful of other campers. (Traveling after Labor Day has turned out to be an inspired decision.)

Sunlight burns through the fog for the first time in days. We lace up our walking boots and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the rim trail around this enchanted peninsula.

A world of rock and sea, forest and mist. The woods are dense with ferny undergrowth, hemlock, red alder, pine and fir. Our feet tread paths carpeted by moss, fallen leaves and tree roots.

Early morning, still dark outside, I wake to the sound of seals baying off the point. Dave and Basil snore together in bed while I brew tea and type these notes. Yoga is not possible right now, just too cold and damp. I resolve to be flexible (NPI) and practice in the afternoon instead.

After breakfast, Dave walks Basil in the forest while I hike down to Agate Beach in search of a birthday present for Silva. 

Ochre, green, copper and pearl-white stones color the long stretch of pebbly sand. I begin filling my pockets, searching for the most beautiful agate I can find. Each time I reach down and pluck a sea-smoothed gem from the beach I tell myself I’ve plundered enough of this shoreline, but still I continue, lured on and on by the possibility of a better, more perfect specimen than the ones I’ve already collected.

Finally, I force myself to stop. And then, as the aphorism goes, as soon as I stop looking, I find something even more perfect than what I thought I was looking for—a birthday mandala in the sand:

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