Swimming in Wildflowers

Tomales Point, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

April 14th, 2018


It’s 7:45 am, I suppress a shiver in the brisk morning air as the night’s chill rapidly retreats from the insistent California sun.

I’m looking forward to this morning’s run at Tomales Point, a narrow, jagged, fingernail of land jutting out between the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay.  With the recent spring rains, I’m hoping the wildflowers are putting on a show. The first taste from the trailhead looks promising.


A few hundred yards from the start, the trail bends around a hill, and I’m suddenly greeted with the first amazing ocean views of the day.


As the trail climbs up to the top of the ridge, Tomales Bay peaks out on the other on the other side, still covered in wisps of morning fog.


This early in the morning, the trail is deserted and deliciously quiet. The only sounds are the muffled crash of waves breaking on the cliffs below, a chorus of birds welcoming the day, and a lone bell, mounted on a buoy in the bay, tolling languorously, like a church bell calling the faithful to worship.

Continuing on my trek, I soon reach a hawk perched on rock, surveying his domain while soaking in the morning sun. He eyes me warily until the trails leads me inside his comfort zone and he takes to the air in a flurry of feathers.






Not much further along the trail, I encounter the first elk gang, lazily starting their day basking in the sun to chase off the nighttime cold. (“Gang” is the official term for a group of elk 😃)






Rounding another bend, the point itself becomes visible, surrounded by the Pacific on the left and the bay on the right. IMG_1989

About four miles in the magic starts. The entire ridge morphs into a sea of wildflowers, filling all the land in sight with an exuberant riot of color. 






At times the trail is overgrown, and I’m wading through a wide, shallow sea of flowers. The sensation is hard to describe, surrounded and immersed in this unrestrained explosion of life. Flowers everywhere, I forget there’s anything in the world but flowers. The pictures and videos barely capture it’s essence…

The magic lasts for a good half mile or so, then the soil turns sandy and the trail starts dropping down to the rocky point.IMG_2026

As I descend, the ocean tugs on my awareness with a greater sense of urgency. The tip of the point protrudes precipitously out into the water, and the ocean becomes a fully immersive sensory experience, waves crashing in a thunderous roar with the raw energy of the Pacific, ocean spray filling the air with briny wetness, waves shattering onto rocks in reckless, frenetic motions, like a pot of marbled liquid jade brought to a hard boil. Farther out, the pristine waters fade into the flawless blue sky. The experience arrests my mind in wonder, as I stand there, engulfed in the perfection of nature.

When the ocean is finished having her way with me, I head back around the point, towards Tomales Bay, and climb a flower-covered hill up to the trail.






With my mind quieted by the ocean, the wildflowers seem even more ubiquitous on the way back. I could take pictures for days and not capture it all.






Reality seeps back in as I leave the flower sea and start encountering hikers on their way out to the point, snipits of chatter bringing me back to the world. The first gang of elk I met is now up and grazing as I return past them.






Back at the trailhead, the parking lot is already completely full of cars, at 10:30 am, and a massive group of hikers is preparing to head out – I’m glad I got here early. This is a very popular spot, with good reason.


Here’s a longer video:

For full directions on how to get here, scroll down to “Favorite Run #5” on the TrailStompers website.

Questions? Comments? Please share in the comments below.

Getting Started Diving in Monterey

Sunrise over MB
Sunrise over Monterey Bay

Ok, you just earned your Open Water certification, and you’re wondering what to do next. As a brand new diver (or a recent transplant to the area), it can be a bit daunting figuring out how to develop your diving in Monterey. Fortunately there are plenty of groups, shops, and resources to help you on your way.

Diver Dan’s (Santa Clara)
Diver Dan’s is my go to dive shop, even though I live farther up the peninsula. The size of the shop, number of instructors/trainings available, and amount of gear for rent makes them one of the top shops in the bay area. (I did my AOW and Rescue Diver trainings here, the instruction is excellent) Diver Dan’s hosts bimonthly dives in Monterey. (http://www.diverdans.com/monterey/discover-local-diving), which is a great way to discover new dive spots and meet new divers. At $25 per dive, it’s highly economical. If join the dive club for $50/year, the local dives are free, and you get two $50 rental coupons – a deal which is hard to beat. Dives take place on Saturdays and are led by one of the Diver Dan’s instructors, who can provide help and guidance for novice divers. Everyone usually dives together, which can get a bit cumbersome with a large group. Every dive has a briefing at the store on Friday evening before the dive, which is a great way to learn more about the area, but kind of a  pain if you live far away.

Any Water Sports (San Jose)
Any Water Sports posts regular group dives on their Any Water Divers FB page.
I’ve never actually been in the physical store, but I’ve attended a couple of their dives. They provide a short dive brief in the morning, then people tend to kind of buddy up and dive on their own (at least on the dives I attended). Events are free, which is great, but the hosts are definitely more hands-off than the Diver Dan’s events, so these might be better after you have some more experience. Everyone is super friendly, and someone usually stays on shore to watch over stuff.

Monterey Open Divers Group on FB often has people looking for buddies:  Since this is just a FB group, it is obviously less organized than the first two. But it’s a good way to meet other divers, buy/sell used gear, etc. I met one of my frequent dive buddies through this site.

There are plenty of other dive shops in the area that also host dives. Bamboo Reef and Pacific Scuba Divers are just two examples. I’m sure they great, but I haven’t tried them, so I can’t speak to them.

Please feel free to share your comments below!

Experiments in Lifestyle Design

I first heard of lifestyle design in the book The 4-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss. In essence, lifestyle design is the concept of structuring your life to meet your needs and desires, rather than accepting the norm of working 9-to-5 for 40 years, then retiring and living the life you want. In Ferriss’s words:

“Life doesn’t have to be so damn hard. It really doesn’t. Most people, my past self included, have spent too much time convincing themselves that life has to be hard, a resignation to 9-to-5 drudgery in exchange for (sometimes) relaxing weekends and the occasional keep-it-short-or-get-fired vacation.”

The 9-to-5 job seems to work for some people, I’ve met people who value the routine and predictability of a stable job. Other people, including me, chafe under this imposed structure. After struggling for more than a decade to cram my round peg into the square hole of corporate America, I’m starting to consider other options, guided in part by The 4-Hour Work Week.

I started thinking about other options after yet another promising job interview didn’t materialize into a job offer. My long-term contract at a large Fortune 500 is ending in October (2018), and I’ve been looking for new jobs for awhile. Even though some jobs have sounded kind of interesting and seemed like a good fit for my background, I came away from most interviews with a feeling a dread about getting locked into a work environment that would demand long hours and continue the slow crushing of my soul. Although I tried to act excited about the jobs, I’m pretty sure my lack of enthusiasm came across in the interviews.

I’ve reached the conclusion that my brain is wired for diversity, I need diversity in my day. My current job is interesting… for a couple hours. After that I start craving a change in both topic and surroundings. One day it hit me, what if I could work part-time each day, then pursue my numerous other interests? Well, I wouldn’t be able to afford that living in the San Francisco Bay Area, so another thought hit me, what if I moved to Mexico, where the cost of living is much cheaper? I had visited Playa Del Carmen, Mexico in the previous year, and that area really resonated with me. What if I moved there?

At first, this seemed like a crazy pipe dream. I didn’t do anything about it for awhile, and went back to attempting to force myself to focus on my job all day long. But while this thought was simmering in my head, I stumbled across The 4-Hour Work Week, and suddenly this idea seemed less crazy. The book spells out steps for how to make a crazy pipe dream like that become a reality. I was a little skeptical of The 4-Hour Work Week at first, it starts off sounding like it’s going to be about get-rich-quick schemes, but the broader principles it describes helped me to start thinking about my life differently. Principles like questioning all assumptions, everything is negotiable, there are very few unbreakable rules.

At the time of this writing, it’s April, 2018; my contract is up October, 2018. I’ve already contacted one previous employer about working part-time starting in October, and the response was positive. I’m currently finding out if I could also keep my current job part-time, very part-time, like 10 hours per week. If I had these two sources on income, I could live very well in Playa, and continue to save money and travel. My lease isn’t up until January, 2019, so my current plan is to move to Playa for the month of November, return to California for December, and then decide if I want to make the plunge and move to Playa indefinitely in January.

I will provide updates on this experiment in the future.

Thoughts, ideas, questions? Please share in the comments below.

Post script: After visiting Playa Del Carmen, it didn’t seem like the ideal place for me, too much city, not enough nature. So I changed the destination to Costa Rica: Read more here: My Experiment: Introduction.


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