The short drive home

Among some members of my family we have a not-quite-regular New Year's tradition of meeting up for dim sum in one of the Bay Area restaurants. I'd say we can usually pull this event together 3-4 of every five years. It's a totally casual affair: anybody who can, shows up at the designated time, friends are allowed, and we all eat monstrous amounts of food. After lunch we hang out, go hiking, visit other friends in San Francisco, or whatever. Today we decided to cross the new Bay Bridge into the City and drive down the coast on Highway 1.

The atmosphere was spectacularly clear. We could see the Farallon Islands, some 30 miles outside the Golden Gate, clear as day out on the horizon. I think I've seen them a total of about five times in my life as a native Californian, and never as distinct as they were today. As we drove south the clouds began to gather, first as wispy mares' tails and then as more substantial masses, although looking nothing like rain clouds. Just south of Pigeon Point I took this photo, where we stopped to watched a dozen or so dolphins leisurely swimming southward:

Highway 1 along the San Mateo County coast south of Pigeon Point. 1 January 2016 © Allison J. Gong
Highway 1 along the San Mateo County coast south of Pigeon Point.
1 January 2016
© Allison J. Gong

I have been grateful to see some green along the roads in our area. After four years of drought the recent rains have been most welcome. Keep it coming, El Niño!

From the exact same spot but facing the other direction (north) and letting my phone adjust the exposure to showcase the clouds and the afternoon sun, I got this shot of the Pigeon Point lighthouse in silhouette:

Pigeon Point lighthouse, viewed from the south. 1 January 2016 © Allison J. Gong
Pigeon Point lighthouse, viewed from the south.
1 January 2016
© Allison J. Gong

South of Pigeon Point we spotted a few whale spouts and pulled off the road at Franklin Point to take a look through the binoculars. We saw mostly spouts and a few backs, not enough to be able to identify them. While the binoculars were in other hands I took another picture of the lighthouse.

Pigeon Point lighthouse, viewed from the south. 1 January 2016 © Allison J. Gong
Pigeon Point lighthouse, viewed from the south.
1 January 2016
© Allison J. Gong

Yes, there's a lighthouse in this photo. See it at the end of the point, way off in the background? I took this photo from atop the highest dune on the trail going out to my favorite intertidal site at Franklin Point.

And again, because I have become infatuated with clouds, I let my phone work its magic and snapped this shot:

Afternoon sky over Franklin Point, taken from Highway 1. 1 January 2015 © Allison J. Gong
Afternoon sky over Franklin Point, taken from Highway 1.
1 January 2015
© Allison J. Gong

It's rather amazing the pictures a non-photographer can take with an iPhone, isn't it?

In the car we talked about how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful place, to encounter such natural splendor on an ordinary drive from Point A to Point B. And I still can't believe that it's part of my job to go to the ocean and simply marvel at what I see. How did I ever luck into that?

I'm not the sort of person who makes new year's resolutions, but my hope for myself in 2016, and beyond, is that I never take for granted this paradise where I live. My hope for you is that you find and appreciate beauty in the natural world wherever you are. And please, share it with me and with others.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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