Saturday, January 3
Today Julie and I take a trip to El Matador State Park, just north of Malibu. The skies are sunny, temperatures are warmer than expected, and the drive north along Route 1 to get there is punctuated with idyllic ocean views and fun beach houses.
I wish I could peek inside some of those homes, I bet they’re fancy and beautiful. There was even a time when I would have wished to live in a house like that, but not anymore.
My brain still conjures up all of the benefits of beach living effortlessly: evenings grilling on a deck over the ocean while the sun sets, waking up in the morning for a walk along the shore before the tourists arrive. How relaxing and marvelous it would be to have those options available right at your doorstep.
But there are opportunity costs with everything in life. Living on the ocean is expensive – how to afford it? You either need to be born into money, which I am not and cannot change so there is no point on dwelling on it, or you have to make a lot of money.
I have no doubt that if living on the beach was my main goal in life I could find a way to make it happen: more schooling followed by a high paying job, a 40+ hour workweek, and roommates. I think of ocean living as a perpetual beach party, but the reality would be less free time to enjoy the benefits than I have now RVing. When I think about it critically like this the positives don’t outweigh the negatives for me.
Also along Route 1 are RVs parked on the shoulders, many of which look like they’re regulars on this stretch of road. A lot of RVers would say that they’re enjoying the same great view and beach access as the expensive houses for free, but that’s not the whole truth. They aren’t paying property taxes or rent it’s true, but they’re paying with less indoor space, fewer amenities, and less permanence. They just don’t see those points as a cost because for them the positives of their chosen lifestyle outweigh the negatives.
There are a couple things to take away from this musing.
- People are different, and value different things. While I would be miserable in a high stakes, high stress job, some thrive in that kind of environment (and for those people, the cost of living in a beach house would be lower, since they’re enjoying their job more).
- We really do have a lot of freedom in America, but we seldom take advantage of it, because we we want everything for free. If there’s something you really want, be willing to make sacrifices to get it. If the sacrifice is too high, you simply don’t want it enough – keep searching.
- Finding the thing you’re willing to make sacrifices for and obtaining it (love? A beach house? Full-time RVing?) is going to be far more rewarding than settling for less.
The 45 minute drive flies by quickly, and soon Julie and I are at the park. It’s $8 for a day pass (self pay), and because we arrive earlier in the day, parking is not a problem. There’s not a whole lot to El Matador really, just an eroded trail from the parking lot down to the beach. If you have a hard time finding this one, there are several more small state parks like it in this part of California, in between the built up residential neighborhoods.
The Pacific is much different than the Atlantic. The water is colder because the currents move north to south, it’s clearer, the shore is rockier, and there are a lot more bluffs. Even the sand has a different texture, it’s coarser than I’m use to.
But despite all that, it’s still got that magic that melts away worries and makes me feel connected to something timeless. We enjoy a long leisurely stroll along the shore as the tide rolls out, detouring around and sometimes through large boulders that are resisting the relentless roll of the waves. While the Pacific is known for surfing and big waves, the sea today is no rougher than I saw when I was living along the coast of South Carolina.
We peer at seaweed washed up onshore, scrutinize what may be anemone in tide pools, and I find a rock with large aquatic fossils in in, bigger than anything I’ve seen before. On the spires of rock offshore, seabirds watch us with a wary eye. I spy pelicans, and a smaller dark colored bird that is harder to identify.
And of course there has to be pictures of everything. The new blog header was taken by Julie at an aesthetically pleasing group of rocks, complete with sea birds. I’m there in that header, just small and hard to see.
During our meanderings, we happen upon a particularly spectacular house, perched on the edge of the bluff looking over the beach. It has decks on two floors and more ocean view windows than you can shake a stick at, but I see no one around. I hope that whatever the occupants are out doing, that it’s worth the cost to them.