The entrance to the beach was on a switchback road just outside of Fort Bragg, California. It’s easy to miss it you don’t know it’s there. I’m sure the locals know it well. When I was there for the second time, I was surprised to see a horse on the beach tied to a trailer. There were few clouds in the sky and I could feel the breeze that is always present as you near the waves. I saw some people who had just been or were about to go out into the water. One guy had on a body suit. Another was just in trunks. A girl was in a swimsuit. I couldn’t imagine how they could stand it. It was cold even though it was June. To get closer to the waves, I had to make a tough walk over a stretch of sand. Muscles were being used that hadn’t been used in a while as my feet sank in with each step. I started to adjust to the temperature. I wasn’t exactly warm but I was no longer cold.

That crevice of sand I had to cross opens up to a long beach with the kinds of views of the Pacific that you hope for. There are rocks, there’s the breeze, all shades of blue as you look at the sky and the waves, shiny sand just washed by the water, weird sea stuff washed up on the beach and driftwood. I saw a couple walking without shoes with their dog across the beach. The lack of shoes looked very free, and as crazy as it sounds, I had never been barefoot on a beach before. I love playing chicken with the waves, but I always risked getting my shoes wet. This happened when I was a kid at a different beach in Fort Bragg. I think I was seven or eight and my mom had to help me clean up my feet.

I’m annoyingly cautious sometimes, but I try not to be. I walked away from the waves towards a wall of rocks, removed my shoes and socks and rolled up my jeans. The sand was warm. It felt like a massage as I walked across it back toward the waves. I was still overdressed compared to the locals, but I felt good in my shoeless state even if it was with jeans, a cardigan and a scarf. I walked up to the waves, and instead of having to run I let the water run over my feet, rising up to my ankles. It was cold. The water rushed toward me and I could just stand there and take it. Such a simple, freeing pleasure to be closure to the waves.

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