The definition of ‘pacific’ is; ‘peaceful in character or intent’. This is patently untrue of the Pacific Ocean… particularly in Northern California. We are continuing our driving adventure down Highway One, heading South on the California coast, between San Francisco and San Diego.
I have taken photos of this lighthouse on other trips, and shared them here, but I never drove out the little road to visit it before.
This is the Pacific Ocean of Northern California. Not the white beaches and palm trees of the southern end. This is a rocky coastline, full of shoals and reefs and submerged hazards. This is cold water that will kill you with hypothermia in a short while. This is kelp beds full of Great White sharks. This is fog and mist and sudden squalls and raging storms.
My most interesting… of the many… near-death-experience stories in my life occurred along this coastline. You should use the search bar and type in variations of ‘near death experience’, and ‘drowning’, and read that story. Go on, we will wait for you by the lighthouse.
I said, in this series, that we would talk about the sea, that volatile, crazy mistress. A lighthouse is the perfect setting for that conversation. Because lighthouses aren’t just cute photo ops. They saved lives, back before GPS and satellites. They still do.
This is a sea that will turn on you in a heartbeat.
Her calm beauty one moment can swiftly turn to howling insanity.
Her gently caressing waves and alluring swells can become towering walls of black water dragging behind them foaming white tresses. The soft breezes can whip themselves into the frenzy of a wailing Banshee.
The rocks that are home to sea bird and sea lion wait to to stove in the beams of the unwary.
You can love this mistress, but you should never turn your back on her.
I have been a sailor. I have loved this sea, but I have also feared her.
To the left in that photo, in front of the lighthouse, rests a large chunk of the side of a schooner, built in 1883. She perished on the rocks right below the lighthouse. The placard beside this remnant explains how the lighthouse keeper of the time waited impatiently for the wreck to break up. There is nothing more disheartening to passing sailors than the sight of a wreck, cast upon the rocks… right below the very lighthouse that was built to save such ships from that very circumstance.