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    The Northern California Coast from Highway One

    Beyond the shores of Earth lie the endless seas, surging with mystery and ancient lifeforms which, in the darkness of the ocean and of the night, drift beneath the faraway stars around which may revolve other worlds with primordial seas unto themselves, inhabited by creatures whose bizarre constitutions are beyond our wildest imaginations.

                                                                                                               -Walter Lloyd Waterson, On the Possibility of Life on Distant Planets

    If you take the California Highway One north from the Russian River on a clear day, you will gaze west from an elevation of six-hundred feet and see the vast and glorious Pacific Ocean.  The volume of water in the panorama before you is unfathomable and humbling, for it is so immense, timeless, and powerful that your existence is made diminutive in comparison to this massive aquatic force of nature.  The coastline is rugged and pristine, and sheer cliffs drop down to rocky shores where waves crash against boulders and stones that crackle as the gurgling water is drawn back out to sea.  I am blessed to be able to explore the wonders of the eastern Pacific coast in as an adult, and have formerly thought that elderly people who first venture to this coast in their old age must kick themselves for experiencing it when they’re week and feeble, but who knows what fantastic adventures they may have had in their lives, and perhaps I’ll be kicking myself as an old man with limited mobility if I ever visit the coasts of South Africa, Patagonia, or Western Australia.  Since I cannot yet visit those places, I will take what I can get, and am eternally grateful that I am free to explore tidepools, collect shells, hike along cliffs, watch whales swim off the coast, see the reflection of the moonlight on the water at night, and, if I so desire, to throw on a wetsuit and dive mask and peer at some of the wondrous array of wild and weird sea creatures that inhabit the saltwater world.   


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