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Author and journalist

London and Palo Alto

Where’s your most beautiful place on earth?

I have many places that are dear to my heart.  Algonquin Park, Canada. The city of London.  The Rocky Mountains. But the place I find the most shockingly beautiful is 17 Mile Drive south of Monterey, California.  Samuel Morse, one of the founders of Pebble Beach, the famous golf course situated on 17 Mile Drive, called it “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world.”

And how they meet! They smash! They pour sea foam onto the craggy rocks and dash it up against the sky! Sit by the shore and the sea rushes towards you with all the force of thundering horses, often slightly above you because of the worn-out land upon which you stand, frightening your inner child until the waves break, dissolve and nourish the tide pools at your feet.

The tide pools are a treat all on their own, because here they have more variety and color than you see at most other seasides.  Pink anemones shrink when you tickle them.  Hermit crabs carry stolen shells upon their backs and compare real estate.   If you’re lucky when you peek between the newly tide-wet rocks you’ll see a crab blinking back at you. It’s the only place where I can sit for hours without thinking of better things to do.

Yesterday we drove higher above the surf to Cypress Point, another of the lookouts on 17 Mile Drive.  I parked the car and came up to my sister and Jonathan, yammering in my usual fashion, until Jonathan put his finger to his lips and pointed to the beach at my left.

On it were 40 seals taking an afternoon nap. Forty. That’s not counting the few young ones sidling up to them (well, not so much sidling as humping) from the surf and hoping they wouldn’t notice.

Imagine a seal on her back, whiskers in the air, front and back flippers tucked up tidy.  It looked like a beach full of grey and blonde mottled rocks.  They were far enough from the sea to miss all but the biggest waves, but when those came, they merely raised their snouts and tails in unison like some plus-size ballet troupe, until the water receded.

Watching the meeting of land and water makes me think beyond myself, beyond my lifetime, and still feel just fine.  So I’ll ask again: Where’s your most beautiful place on earth?

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