Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Land of Beauty and Contrasts

The day that we moved Taylor into his dorm we made a trip through Malibu Canyon to the nearest Target. The drive through the canyon is scenic, but one of the my favorite views in the world is on the trip back.

As you round the last curve the Pacific stretches out directly in front of you. Several hundred feet below on your left is the Pacific Coast Highway with Malibu State Beach just beyond. And along the foot of the mountain on the right spreads out the campus of Pepperdine. It is a magnificent sight. Pepperdine is situated where the mountains meet the sea.

The next morning I sat on the patio at our hotel, enjoying my coffee, and watching at least a half dozen dolphins about 30 yards off shore. Feeding and frolicking - a mesmerizing sight.

Later that morning we walked along the beach in Malibu, enjoying the cool ocean breeze and admiring the multimillion dollar homes lining that section of beach. The next day we drove to Santa Barbara - the 'American Riviera' - where the harbor is full of yachts and sail boats, and the median home price is $900,000.

In the midst of this opulence are homeless people sleeping on the beach. There are migrant farm workers harvesting grapes in the vineyards and produce from the fields. There are hundreds of people in the service industry working in resorts, hotels, restaurants. Along Venice Beach, one of the country's most eclectic locations, there are various 'artists' trying to get by selling their wares, and there are languages being spoken from all over the world.

In the midst of the natural beauties of the mountains and the ocean are freeways, several lanes wide and packed with cars. There is air thick with smog. There is a difference of nearly 20 degrees in the temperature of the coastal areas and that of the valleys.

I do enjoy visiting California, but there just as anywhere else, what you see depends on what you are looking for.

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