Sunsets on the Pacific are pretty stellar. The entire sky emits a gorgeous scheme of colors that reflect off of the ocean. Taking a horseback ride on the beach with dusk approaching rendered this Mexican moment even more glamorous. The sun hovered around the horizon casting long rays of light out onto the sandy shore.
As night settled in, I was able to explore some hot springs along the beach. Steaming water bubbles up in a “secret” location. Anyone with a shovel and a lil’ bit of grit can essentially dig their own hot tub. Some places within the pit were too hot for even my feet to handle.
Mexico, you’re a quirky country, with lots of fun things to explore… especially when the sun goes down.
The waves picked up, barreling over my kayak as I struggled to paddle perpendicular to the shore. The salt spray blinded me momentarily until I was through the shore break and out into the relatively calm waters.
It was a beautiful Thanksgiving day south of the border. An almost record high of 85° convinced me to brave the chilly Pacific waters. The bright sun was intense – a welcome relief from my recent dunk in the ocean. I bobbed on the sea for a spell, thinking about everything and nothing. My last experience in the Pacific involved a surfing lesson after my time spent in the Channel Islands.
It was then that I spotted a brown face and sleek body emerging from the ocean’s surface. A sea lion decided to swim on by, checking out this oddly colored piece of plastic floating in his waters. I watched, I listened, I enjoyed life.
Fast forward 4 hours.
Bike riding along the beach was a fun pass time, but I was on a mission: hunting for sea slugs. These fascinating creatures are squishy mollusks that release reddish ink when disturbed. After a zippy three-mile bike ride, I found one!
My Mexico Thanksgiving was full of unique experiences and living “treasures”. I took a moment to appreciate my special outdoor experiences and how blessed I am to continue trekking around the world seeking out natural spaces.
I was also grateful that the sea slug ink came off… eventually.
The gentle murmur of waves greeted me as I shook off my morning slumber. Half asleep, I listened to the ocean purr and gurgle, rhythmic in its lullaby. Pulling on my hoodie, I tiptoed out to the shore for a morning stroll.
Pelicans dove violently for their breakfast while gulls skittered nearby picking for crabs buried stealthily in the sand. And oh, the sand! So fine it felt like flour, with tiny flecks of gold in it that caught the light of the rising sun. My feet took pleasure in its sloppy wet feel, and I gazed out over the Pacific Ocean.
This was Mexico.
I was expecting a touristy vibe similar to that of Cancun, especially knowing that the Baja Coast is a well-developed region. We pulled down a dirt road to get to the beach casa and narrowly missed hitting livestock on the way in. When “security” had to pull a rope tied to a rock to lift the gate arm, I knew I was in for a genuine Mexican adventure.
But back to the beach.
It was just me and the ocean at 6:30 am. Cold salt water (pleasant) and the smell of something burning somewhere (not so pleasant). I walked back to the house to get a cup of coffee, and saw the dolphins: seven of them cruising along the surf, leaping joyfully in the air. I waved back and smiled.
I was quite content to watch these fascinating creatures for another 20 minutes, while they took their time whisking through the sea. A feeling of complete and utter kinship accompanied me.
It was only 7 am, and it was going to be a darn good day.
The crowds of people were easy to maneuver: a hop here, a jump here. I skittered across the rocky portions of the trail, surefooted like its namesake. Those whom I jauntily passed by were scrambling slowly and uneasily through simple sections of uneven rock. One lady had a mild panic attack; I coached her through a slick section of rock amidst her protests and cries of despair. While I was helping her move sluggishly along, the trail built up quite a bottle-neck. A round of applause greeted the poor lady when she finally made it through, those in the crowd cheering their own eventual headway rather than a stranger’s actual progress.
I had managed my expectations before setting out to the Maryland side of Great Falls to hike Section A of the Billy Goat trail. And rightly so – one of the most popular hikes in the Northern Virginia area can take hours to complete due to the hoards of well-meaning individuals who underestimate their own abilities. Given the immaculate fall weather, it was worth it. Solid hiking boots allowed me to trek around the crowds on the path less-traveled when necessary.
There were numerous overlooks, all of them involving moving water. The cascading Potomac made me think of my hikes in the Smokies. The trail portion along the canal was reminiscent of my time biking the towpath in Cuyahogo Valley National Park. And the general autumn weather? Definitely à la Tetons. With that being said, Great Falls and the Billy Goat trail had its own special feel. The leisurely views filled me with a warm-fuzzy feeling, the intense sunlight adding to the overall effect. I breathed deeply, soaking up this natural place and relishing the feeling of being outside.
Yes, there was lots of chatter I overheard.
Yes, there were people who didn’t follow proper trail etiquette.