I left my northern California hotel room one morning looking for a place to run. The small fitness room had one treadmill and I hoped I could do better outside but I had my doubts. We had traveled north of LA to the tiny town of San Simeon. Driving north on Hwy 1 if you blinked you would miss seeing this handful of hotels close to the Hearst Castle. I didnít relish the thought of running on a highway but then again I didnít want to run back and forth on the short outer road. I headed north and entered a small beach access path. I took off thinking maybe I could run on the shore but the tide was rolling in and I didnít fancy running in water. Back on the outer road I headed south quickly reaching the end of the drive. Now there was nothing left to do but run on the highway and thatís when I spied a tiny dirt trail. To my delight I had stumbled upon a state park. It was fenced with wire and rails like a cattle ranch and I soon found myself running on a single path dirt trail across an expansive field. The trail wove atop the bluffs of the coast and I found myself savoring incredible vistas of the Pacific Ocean. The sun warmed the earth creating a fragrant aroma of the flowers and herbs that filled this coastal land. I relished this trail and couldnít wait to get out and run it again the next morning.
We stayed two nights which allowed me to run the bluff trail twice. The second morning out I sighted a small group of elephant seals in a cove. I got as close as I could to these big guys standing on a jagged hunk of land watching them for a while. A few were sunning themselves on large rocks and others were in the water. One seal in particular turned and looked right at me. In fact he swam and held his head up and we watched one another for a long time. Ok, Iíll admit it, I talked to him. I talked and waved and he just looked at me intently perhaps because I had on a bright turquoise shirt and stood out on the shore. I donít know if you can say we communicated but there was a definite awareness of one another as we both held eye contact. As I headed back finishing my run I found myself thinking I am going to miss this place, but then I reconsidered. No I would not actually I would take this place with me. That magical moment with the elephant seal, the fragrant plants, the crashing coast were all vivid memories that were now a part of me. I wasnít leaving anything; I was taking something with me-memories.