We don’t live too far from the ocean. Growing up I was never more than a block or two from the Pacific ocean or at one time the Thames River in Connecticut where I learned to swim when my father threw me out into the water.. But there’s something about the sound of crashing waves and the mystery of tides that keeps me captive, and I have spent many days painting it.
Yesterday we headed out down a heavily wooded road with native redwood trees hiding the sun in speckled sections, toward Half Moon Bay, a lovely little coastal town in Northern California with a couple of friends for a relaxing day by the ocean. Several stops along the way included a cemetery containing the remains of Union soldiers which we had passed hundreds of times and never noticed. Interesting to see soldiers from the Civil War buried here in Redwood City in a tiny oak-shaded memorial park.
Next stop was a funky breakfast shop in Woodside with a collection of everything including a life-sized green Statue of Liberty greeting you as you walked in the front door and an 8 ft. anaconda skin on the wall. After that it took a few cups of great cappuccino to get us ready for the rest of the trip.
It was a brilliant sunny day with an invigorating sea breeze, so we walked to the edge of the cliff and inhaled the first pure air since we were there before. My friend is from an island in the Azores, and he too feels right at home by the sea. He said they took it for granted as we do, and the thrill of the day came when as boys they looked up occasionally to see an airplane which they knew was going to America from the direction it was flying.
Half Moon Bay,California is filled with nice small shops, bakeries and good restaurants, and the comfortable feel of a small town. It was settled by Portuguese fishermen and as you walk closer to the water, there are boats and fish shops and more restaurants. The largest building in town is Cunha’s grocery store which has been there over a hundred years and seems to be the focal point of the town. At one time there was a dance floor upstains and the downstairs was a large bar. Easy to imagine the party when the fishing boats came in at the end of the day.
The Flying Fish restaurant was our goal and the whole purpose of our trip, because they probably have the best fish and chips since our favorite pub in London near Paddington station, where we once happily survived for a week on fish and chips and beer for dinner. (And perhaps Spotted Dick for dessert!)