You don’t grow up in California without turning out a little crunchy. That is, at least the California of the eighties and nineties; if you were paying any attention to conservation talks in school involving talking dolphin puppets admonishing us to cut up the plastic soda rings so their babies won’t choke to death. Heck, maybe it’s that combined with my upbringing of camping every year with my family (leave the campsite cleaner than you found it), or reading so much as a kid (The Lorax is still my favorite Dr. Seuss book). Or maybe I’m just ultra-sensitive to conservation propaganda. In any case, I emerged crunchy. A tree-hugger. Environmentally conscious.
My personal belief is that the high concentration of granola-eating hippies in California can be attributed to the sheer density of wildlife and undeveloped land here. Well, that and its proximate relationship to San Francisco, where loving the environment is a prerequisite for entry into the city. California has eight national parks, tied with Alaska for the most in the country, and 322 state parks. Seeing as it also has 840 miles of gorgeous coastline and millions of acres of protected land, it’s no wonder appreciation for the environment is a priority, nay, a requirement here. We’d probably be overtaken by stampeding wildlife and fire and flood if it weren’t. I fear the dreaded California budget cuts tremendously, because if we cut any more funding for state parks developers and angry Grizzly Bears will destroy the state with their sharp claws and fierce indifference for human life.
Yes, I am aware of the bitter irony in the above description as there are no Grizzly Bears in California anymore, despite them being our state animal. They were chased out and killed off sometime in the last century. Oh, California, you disgustingly terrible state. But I’m betting they would come back to whip some scrawny politician’s ass if we further screw up the environment.
With all this said, have you yet guessed my favorite outdoor activity?
Yep, I’m a hiker.
I don’t get to hike very often anymore, seeing as I’m locked in by hours of Los Angeles county sprawl and that big body of water known as the Pacific Ocean, but when I do it’s the most amazing feeling ever and oh my gosh I want to do it every day. An hour’s worth of hiking for me has all the spiritually restorative power of a weekend meditation retreat. Nothing makes me feel more alive. NOT EVEN COFFEE.
Connection with my surroundings is key to my spiritual well-being. I need the humming quiet-noise of nature to soothe my stressed-out, maxed-out brain and my frazzled nerves. Plus I love scarcities like clean air and plant life relatively free of human debris. And I like to walk and be alone with my thoughts. Perfect activity for an introvert like me.
So Mike and I used our New Year’s holiday to hike through the Santa Monica mountains, an hour’s drive from us. It was a short hike, since we had to be back at a certain time, but it buoyed me up tremendously.
Don’t you feel better already?
The thing about hiking in Malibu is that you come across some weird relics.
You also occasionally bump into signs of the native inhabitants of Malibu.
The view of the ocean would’ve been cool, had one of us not had to head back down before reaching the summit…
What a brilliant way to start the New Year! I’m so glad I thought of it. The only thing that would’ve made the hike better was if there were redwood trees. Or if we had a chance encounter with a grizzly bear. They’re cute and fluffy and they have adorable sharp teeth. We totally would’ve become BFF, because I have a way with the animal folk.