Just call me Ansel.

My husband and I went for a long hike yesterday. In high weekend gear, as usual, he stated that he wanted to go because I had been with a couple of friends the week before, and he thought it sounded fun. So, in the brilliant late afternoon sun, that’s just what we did.

It felt good to get out and move around, enjoy the fresh air and be less than pleasantly reminded that I am horrible when it comes to hiking—that is, hiking when hills are involved. Yes, I know that hiking isn’t really hiking unless one has donned large boots with thick treaded soles to trudge up and down hills, climb rocks, and perhaps swing from trees.

You’d think I’d been a smoker all my life for all the gasping I did. My husband barely worked up a sweat the entire time. How is that even possible? The guy is a desk jockey who doesn’t exercise—unless I count the times he jumps off the couch and rushes the television when he thinks there’s been a bad call made against a player who’s on his Fantasy Football Team. Pushing the buttons on the remote absolutely does not count.

It’s not fair with all the walking and swimming and stretching and complaining (jaw exercise…?) I do. One would think that I’d be the athlete in the house.

The determination behind this particular hike is that once you’ve dragged yourself up the enormous hill, wandered off the main road and down through the winding paths, then schlepped back up the crude steps built into the hillside, you get to trek down, down, down to the ocean. At least someone figured out that there should be some redemption for people who think looking at indigenous scrub on eroding bluffs after months with no rain is not beautiful. “Oh, look honey…A black sage. I wonder if its twigs ever have leaves on them?” Or aren’t too thrilled by the concept of waiting for a rattler to spring out and chomp on your ankle for interrupting his afternoon nap.

<alt img="Ocean Bluffs Torrey Pines"/>

Sarcasm aside, I do think the landscape is quite interesting in all its unique beauty, but it definitely falls into the acquired taste category—at least at this time of year. Now, I would be interested in coming again when it rains. If it rains. I could also be convinced to think differently about returning if I didn’t have to concentrate on how to keep air in my lungs. It sort of takes the fun out of trying to remember all the botanical names.

Yes, thankfully, there’s an ocean at the end of it all. You get to rip off your shoes, peel off your sweaty socks, and walk through the refreshingly clear surf. Very nice, and more than motivating.

It’s such a stark looking reserve at this time of year; most of the native plants look quite dead. The occasional pine’s long needles add a bit of green to the scenery, and termites busy digesting fallen trees uncover rich shades of gold within the trunk. But dust covers everything, and I can’t help but wonder how anyone would have wanted to settle here like they did hundreds of years ago. You know. The people who anchored their sailing vessels off the coast and decided to call this home. Not a palm tree in sight. Just the torrey pines, wild sumac and other plants that magically eke out an existence in the arid environment that is Torrey Pines State Reserve.

I did seize the opportunity to look a bit through Ansel Adams’ eyes and examine the contrasts of light and dark created by the sun. I know little about photography, so can’t tell if any of my photos “work,” but it was a pleasant change of pace and I do like a few of them.

<alt img="Ocean Ripples on Shore"/>

As we approached the shore, the saltiness of the air refreshed our dusty nostrils, and my attention was directed to the interesting striations of color in the bluffs. As much as erosion is rarely a good thing, the effects of it can certainly be beautiful.

The tide was nearly at its lowest by the time we ventured down the stairs, so we knew we could hike back to our car from the beach. Good thing or my husband would have had to call for an air lift. I was exhausted.

The beach is firm and flat, and the waves push gently toward the shore, so it’s easy to walk in the water and cool down. Smooth rocks and shells lie here and there. Birds with long beaks search for a briny morsel to eat.

<alt img="Man on a Beach"/>

A man and a woman walked toward us in their bathing suits, eyes averted as they passed, no doubt wondering about the layer of dirt on my upper lip stuck to my sweat. Or maybe it was that I’d thrown myself belly first into the water, kissing the sand much like Kevin Costner did as Robin Hood after setting foot in England once again.

It must have been the dirt mustache.

No matter. At least I got my exercise in for the day, and I’m thankful for my husband who is ever so tolerant in more ways than I can count.

And this is what it looks like in color. How could I change it to black and white, Ansel? Tell me what you would have done.

<alt img="Bluffs at Torrey Pines"/>






10 responses to “Just call me Ansel.”

  1. i am a black and whit fanatic… but i must say the most beautiful shot you got was the color… i didn’t say most interesting… just most beautiful….

  2. Well I am a smoker, I was gasping the whole time I read this.

    I wish I had the stamina to hike. The best I can do is maybe stroll (slowly) across my back yard.

    Great pictures!

  3. Those are great! I think I will call you Ansel, missy!

  4. So… how are his fantasy football team(s) doing so far?

  5. Hey paisley…I have enjoyed b & w photography in the past as well, but I dunno…it’s not quite the same. Uh…you think it’s the photographer?

    Hi meleah! I may as well have been a smoker — my dad smoked 4 packs a day and smoked the entire time all five of us were packed into a VW bug.

    Thanks, Chick! Maybe I’ll work on people next. Then I’ll be Ansel Scavullo or Lebowitz or someone.

    RJ! Suffice it to say that on the very first game he sat down to watch this season, his number one draft pick was down on the first play of the game with team physicians checking him out. You should have seen the look on his face. I gotta get more info before I do a post on it.

  6. I just want to lay in the photo of the water and let it wash over me. How inviting and how exquisite the texture you drew out of sand and water. Laying in the surf on the beach reminds me of how we are made of little more than earth and water ourselves. How splendid the image. Thanks!

  7. I appreciate the pictures. I’ve never seen landscape like this up close and personal. I live in Southeast Louisiana where everything is extremely flat and well… very wet. A hike is very different down here!

  8. Great pictures. I love hiking and would be love to be able to hike routinely in view of the ocean.

  9. GLORIOUS pictures! But, the “dead tree” one is showing up broken for me, just so ya know.

  10. Thanks, Phil. I like that one, too. It’s a bit interesting to see how a photo turns out when you’re walking, kicking the water, and trying to take photos all at the same time. And yes, the simplicity of knowing that’s what we’re made of is quite calming to me — especially when life gets hectic. I wonder about all the commotion and pain we cause ourselves making things so complicated.

    Hey Micki! I lived in Florida and South Carolina when I was growing up, and I do remember the wetness in the south. I remember green everywhere. I remember heat, but not the humidity. Whenever I travel, the green anywhere is what I notice first. It all is so different from here.

    Hi Cooper, Yes I do remember that you’ve mentioned hiking quite a bit. I think the ocean is just a tease unless you venture down like we did. Some people park on the hill, so have to climb back up it to get to their cars. I like the way we ventured much better.

    Hi Jenny — Thanks! And I’m not sure what’s up with that picture. The link works to Flickr. I think that’s my favorite…

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