I had lived near the L.A. area for almost four years before I finally saw the ocean.
Unbelievable, I know.
My excuses ranged from “I have school/homework” to “I don’t have a car and the bus takes forever”.
Why was I so reluctant to visit the coast? Part of the reason was I’m biased toward Florida’s coastline. I had grown up there and didn’t want to acknowledge that any other ocean could be as good. The beach my family always visited had not only pure white sand but also a civil war fort (Fort Pickens).
But of course I should have known better. Every place has its own beauty and attractions. Palos Verdes is no exception. I was introduced to the area through a geography field trip.
On the trip I learned about the area’s geologic history, examining the layers of exposed earth and what creates the landslides the area is famous for. Afterwards I learned how to use GPS devices to locate points – a sort of treasure hunt only without any treasure. Then finally we were taken to an observation point where I saw the ocean. There was even a genuine lighthouse! Yes, I had never seen a real one until then.
After that I was hooked. I stated planning how to go back. I needed an excuse to convince my mom to let me borrow her car so I could drive out there. Thanks to journalism, I got one.
I was taking an online media class and one of the projects was a photostory (a slide show with narration and music). It was to be the biggest project of the semester, so it had to be something good.
Then there was the hike to Palos Verdes that the Geography Student Association was having. Talk about perfect timing. This was also my introduction to the association. I went to one of their meetings and got permission to do my story on their hike. Now I go to all of their meetings and learn about both the academic and fun sides of geography.
The hike itself was amazing. We hiked along the Lower Portuguese Bend. I had imagined the trails would be large and well-kept and more traveled but instead it was wilder looking.
The trails were so narrow in some places that only one person could walk through at a time and the land was all loose dirt and rocks. Some trails were extremely steep and right on the edge of the hills. Some places even had shrubs growing over them. At one spot I almost stepped on a baby snake. I quickly followed it as it dashed to the side of the road but was unable to get a good photo. We even ran into some people on horses along the bigger trails.
I loved it all. But my favorite moment was the one when we reached the observation point and got a full view of the ocean with Catalina Island in the distance. My favorite picture from that trip is the one I use as the banner for this blog.
At that point my fellow hikers also introduced me to the prickly pear, a type of small red fruit produced by cactus. Sorry to say, as much as I love trying new things, I don’t like trying new foods. I’m just a picky eater by nature. But everyone else said it was great so perhaps if I ever get the courage I will try it for myself.
Here is where I would put up the final version of my photostory, but I can’t upload videos to this blog. If I ever figure out how I will put it up in another post.
I hope the pictures I’ve posted though motivate you to go hiking along the Portuguese Bend. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place right on the edge of urban Los Angeles. There is no excuse to miss out.