Monday, July 21, 2008

Just Go! to Sea Ranch, California

A few weeks ago my husband and I spent a long weekend at Sea Ranch on the California coast. It was such a wonderful respite! Living in Sacramento for the last month has been like living in a campfire – hot, smoky, and nearly unbearable. But as we drove down the valley, through the mountains, along the Russian River… the temperature fell, the skies cleared, and suddenly: there was the ocean. Relief.

I’ve never been big on beaches. I am too fair skinned to sunbathe. In fact, I have to be really careful or I will be burned to a crisp. So, I really like a beach at night or on a cloudy day – sometime when I don’t have to worry about sunscreen and hats and long sleeves and skin cancer.

Our weekend at Sea Ranch was perfect: it was grey and foggy, but so cool and pleasant. We were staying at a friend’s house up in the woods with an incredible view of the forest running down to the beach. And we were able to take our dog, Lucy, with us, too.

Lucy is a wild girl – all spunk and fun. And Miss Lucy is quite the swimmer! We have always known this. Swimming pools, fountains, puddles, bathtubs: you name it, she will splash in it. To watch her play in the water is to see pure joy and athleticism. But at Shell Beach, she decided to conduct her own Olympic Trials (and scared me to death, too).

On Saturday morning we went down to Shell Beach. My husband had Lucy on the leash because there was a family on the beach with little kids. Lucy loves kids -- and sometimes knocks them over, so we didn't want her to frighten anyone. Besides it wasn't really an off-leash beach. I was taking photos and enjoying the seals that kept popping their heads up just off shore. There were two of them frolicking in the surf and enjoying the day, too.

This wasn’t Lucy’s first trip to the beach. She loves running in the waves and rolling around in the sand. But today, she decided she wanted to play with the seals. She kept swimming further and further out. Mind you, she was on a leash, so she was trying to drag my husband further and further out, too. I was enjoying the show, and then took off down the beach to take some photos.

This particular beach was like many in Northern California: spotted with beautiful rocky outcroppings and rugged boulders where the waves splash and crash. It is beautiful and made for some lovely photography.

A very wet Lucy and husband followed me. My sweet husband yelled, "Angela, call your dog!" I turned around and called Lucy (who will usually run right to me when we do this). But between us there was an rocky inlet to the ocean. Lucy started running toward me -- and then took off for the water instead. She leapt in and took off out to sea. We were both so shocked it took us a few seconds to register what was happening. And then she was out of sight in the rocks and surf. My husband took off after her, and suddenly I couldn't see either one of them.

The waves crashed against the rocks as I waded out a bit further and a bit further. I still couldn’t see them. I waited. I still couldn’t see them. My feet started to go numb. “Lucy had a leash on. She could be caught on a rock and drowning. My husband is a good swimmer… but it is really cold.” My brain froze. I couldn’t decide what to do: wait for them safely on shore, or throw myself into the waves, too.

“I am going to lose my entire family.”

Just as I was throwing off my purse and camera bag to wade in after them, my husband came back into sight. But Lucy was still missing. "She's up on the rocks over there," he pointed. I couldn't see her from the beach, but she was perched on some high rocks like a seal. Just then a wave came in and washed her back into the water -- and closer to my husband who was finally able to grab her leash again and bring her to shore.

Poor husband was very cold and very wet. Lucy was cold and wet, too, but I didn’t feel sorry for her at all. She was having the best day of her life!

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