Sunday, August 30, 2009

Early Morning Play-by-Play

Laguna Beach, CA, August 30, 2009

6:15 am Alarm goes off; hit snooze.

6:20 am Get out of the snuggly bed and notice the sound of the waves coming from the open window.

6:35am Discover that the hotel’s complimentary breakfast room is still locked. Head to Starbucks, not at all disappointed.

6:40am Order a hot chocolate and vanilla scone, and notice that all the customers at this hour are older men. This must be the local’s hangout? There are no tables and no restroom – obviously a tourist town where they don’t want the beach bums using their restroom!

6:45am Walk along the boardwalk back to the hotel, past four people playing volleyball (at this hour?!), one man doing jumping jacks, and a sanitation worker who is emptying the trashcans in preparation for this summer’s last August weekend. See a white fluffy dog who looks like George, on a leash by the still-closed lifeguard tower.

6:50am Find a table at the hotel’s beachside restaurant, closed and deserted, except for two workers who are opening all the umbrellas and wiping down tables.

6:52am A flock of seagulls who had been sitting far down the beach, camouflaged among the piles of seaweed, suddenly take flight and head south along the coast.

6:58am Notice that the waves are calmer than yesterday, but they still form long, perfect curls of water as they crash in waves the length of two football fields.

6:59am Take note of the people on the beach at this time: A man is standing at the edge of the surf with his dog and keeps gesturing toward the waves with his arm, encouraging the dog to get in the water. The dog looks at the water, then at the man, and then he barks - it’s just too cold. Farther down the beach is a lone fisherman. He hasn’t caught anything. Three older Asian women are taking their morning walk on the beach with shoes in hand.

7:00am Think how nice it would be to be able to include a walk on the beach as your daily morning routine.

7:07am The first surfer arrives, climbs aboard his surfboard, and heads far out, past the huge waves.

7:15am Get up to take a photo of this fabulous morning location, and have a nice conversation about photography with the Spanish-accented man who had been hosing down the patio.

7:16am See two swimmers far out in the water, their black arms (in wetsuits) arcing above the water like distant fish. They swim out to a buoy and the turn back toward shore.

7:18am The surfer catches a great wave and rides it for about five seconds before it overtakes him. The fisherman re-baits his hook.

7:19am The hotel workers move to the beach to prepare the private beach area for their hotel guests. They begin pounding stakes into the sand which will hold the ropes and signs that say “Private Beach.” (We sat there yesterday and had drinks and lunch delivered to our chairs. It was nice, but I think I prefer the freedom of having our own blanket and umbrella out in the middle of the action. Being behind a rope, while luxurious, has a sort of animals-in-a-zoo quality.)

7:22am The swimmers head out to sea again. One stops midway and treads water. A man with a camera squats at the edge of the water, setting up the perfect shot.

7:25am A man jogs by with his dog, a black lab who patiently trots by his master, who runs barefoot in a sprightly torso-twisting trot. (When they get nearer, I realize it’s a woman.)

7:26am Two people walk down the concrete steps and sit at a table nearby.

7:28am Spot a lone swimmer far out from shore. Where did he come from? How long has he been swimming? Make a mental note to work out more.

7:34am Notice a dolphin swimming along shore, surfacing now and then in a fluid arc. He surfaces again, in another location. Are there more than one? Watch longer, until suddenly two dolphins jump out of the water side by side, in perfect unison, like at a Sea World show, but infinitesimally better. A few moments later, four or five can be seen at once, their fins black against the sun’s morning glimmer.

7:40am A huge black dog on a leash forces his owner to stop so he can dig. He digs frantically and then they move on. Farther down the beach, he stops again to dig in another spot. And then another. Wish George were here to dig, too.

7:41am Decide to turn off the computer, because deep down, computers and beach vacations don’t mix.

7:41am Look up for one last thing to write, and see the surfer far out past the waves. Others have joined him by now, but he sits on his board alone, slowly bobbing up and down, staring out to sea.

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