Loving Orange County #1: The Beach

2 Apr

You knew this was going to be numero uno. Anytime I feel down about living here, I just think of the beach and my spirits instantly lift.

The beauty of the ocean and expansiveness of the horizon. The warm sun kissing my skin. The feel of soft sand underneath my feet. The pull of the waves when playing in the water. Lazily hanging out with girlfriends and comparing tan lines. Going for a jog and taking a well-deserved nap on the sand. Watching the surfers and body boarders. Eating a warm burrito while wrapped in a towel. The sway of the palm trees. I even enjoy gingerly walking around fish innards and pigeon droppings to watch people fish off the pier.

The beach nearest to me is Newport Beach. The pier area can get very crowded, so we tend to hang out about 2 miles north of it. It is an easy 4 mile bike ride from our apartment. I can sit there for hours, watching the waves or reading a book, snacking on nuts and fruit. Sometimes I jog the Santa Ana River Trail, which ends at the beach – a lovely reward at the end of a run.

If we do decide to walk down to the pier, we stroll by all the oceanfront rental properties, picking out the ones that are our favorites. Then we indulge in delicious ham and cheese croissants from a little donut shop nearby, watching the sun set over the ocean.

Sometimes we beach hop around Orange County. Starting with Seal Beach, a mellow little town where you can grab a cup of coffee and walk down the pier. Then we head to bustling Huntington Beach, navigating through crowds and checking out all the shops on Main Street. We pass Newport Beach and head down to Laguna Beach, with cute boutiques, art galleries, and little restaurants. Maybe we check out the tide pools or the harbor in Dana Point. Then on down to San Clemente, the beach where I spent my high school years.

I also love the beach because it’s a symbol of the importance of public space, the commons. It doesn’t cost any money to come here (if you can get around the parking meters, one good thing about being local), it’s open to everyone, and everyone enjoys it. In a place that doesn’t always feel welcoming to me, the beach reminds me that I belong here.

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