If the interior West exudes space, solitude, and silence, the Pacific Coast offers drama: isolated beaches, quaint towns, high cliffs, shifting mist and rain, and a coastline littered with large rock formations. We visited the Pacific Coast in early June, before the travel season peaked and, luckily, when the weather was good.
We drove from Point Reyes National Seashore in California northward along the coast to the western side of Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula (in Washington). Unlike when we traveled through the plains or interior West, at the Pacific Coast, we drove at a snail’s pace, stopping at small waysides and parks, sampling the seafood chowder everywhere we could, and finding, in our slow pace, a new travel experience.
We ignored our destination and focused instead on the current place. We spent eight days traveling about 1,060 miles, or roughly 130 miles per day, and we stayed in motels. We didn’t know how long we’d take on the coast, and we had no meaningful time limit. We didn’t need to be home for about a month.
When we left Point Reyes, we drove until we encountered a place that looked interesting and stopped. Then we explored that place until we wanted to leave. Then we repeated that process, stop after stop, as we worked our way northward.
The coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington have hundreds of small waysides, scenic vistas, and state and federal parks. We didn’t realize how many there were until one of us mentioned it maybe three or four days into our journey. Then we talked about picking up the pace and setting some daily destinations, but we decided, no. We figured a return to traditional travel with planned distances and destinations would rob us of something new and special, even though we weren’t then able to communicate just what it was.
Our travel mimicked child’s play, where kids simply move from one attraction to another at no particular speed, having no timeline and no aim other than to be there, playing in the moment. Perhaps the only difference from childhood is that children are usually serious about play, whereas we were lighthearted and unattached.
A Buddhist would describe the experience as traveling in the present moment. At times, we were in a moving meditation: we had rocks to climb, driftwood to inspect, beaches to roam, all against the sound and rhythm of the waves. Time after time we stood still or sat, watching, listening, and marveling at the connected, endless nature of our present enterprise. We didn’t suffer stress or worry. Our cares and problems lay mute somewhere in the past. We were here, now, and small.
The following photo gallery shows some of what we saw and maybe will give you a sense of peach. Click on the first photo to enter the gallery, then hit escape or click on the X in the upper left corner to exit.