Green! As we drove west out of the desert we started to see bits of green on the ground and more leafy trees. Sa was pretty excited about it, pointing at every blade of grass it seemed. She wasn’t nearly as excited when we reached our destination though, and I felt kind of bad because it was chosen for our sake. The Del Mar race track is a short walk to one of the only dog beaches on the southern California coast, and they open their RV park to the public when the horses aren’t running in winter. Unfortunately, the Del Mar RV park is a big, ugly parking lot, right beside the railway tracks, with not one redeeming quality — or so Sa said. It was getting late, sunset approaching, we dogs ready to get out and go for a walk, but we forged on anyway, heading north up the coast to the state parks near Encinitas and Carlsbad.
The first park, San Elijo, was crawling with campers and dogs and bikes and surfers, a bit of a shock after all the quiet places we’d been. And… they were full. Ten miles up the road, at South Carlsbad State Park, they had room for us, for at least the night. It was pretty busy there too, on account of Christmas holidays, something Nollind and Sa hadn’t thought about. Not much family camping happens during Christmas break back home in Canada.
South Carlsbad was a nice park but with one fatal flaw…no dogs allowed on the beach. I’d never been to a beach and would have been happy to go walking somewhere else, but Sa was determined to give us the ocean beach experience. So back to Del Mar we went for an afternoon. Now to me it didn’t seem so different from the desert, except that there were more people and it was a lot noisier. These big waves were crashing in on the shore and the water would race right up at me! Very unsettling. But, as long as I stayed away from the water it was a lot of fun, chasing Chico around and playing with a Beagle puppy we met.
A couple of days later, we visited another dog beach Sa & Nollind found for us, at San Elijo State Park. It was just a short stretch of beach and we had to be on leashes but it was fun running in the sand with Sa…as long as she didn’t go in the water. Cold, noisy, salty water that chases you — not my idea of a good time. We also got in one early morning beach walk at South Carlsbad. We weren’t supposed to be there, but all we left behind were our footprints, which washed away as soon as the tide came in.
After a few days at South Carlsbad we headed a little further north to Oceanside. The second night was New Year’s Eve and Sa and Nollind decided to go out early and then spend the rest of the evening with us, taking us for a walk on the beach around 8:00. They are well aware that I don’t like banging noises like guns, or thunder, so I think they were trying to avoid exposing me to what they expected was coming at midnight — FIREWORKS! But, despite their efforts, the most terrifying thing happened just after we got to the beach. The sky lit up and started to explode in all directions with the loudest popping and banging I’ve ever heard! I tried to head for the houses that were all along the beach, thinking someone would take pity on a poor, frightened dog, but Sa and Nollind kept pulling me back to them, out there in the open, exposed to the terror!
It felt like the longest walk of my life and I was never happier to see our trailer. I couldn’t wait to get inside and crawl into my den under the table. I was safe…or so I thought. A few hours later, Nollind was sleeping, Sa was reading in bed, and I was curled up on the couch. Suddenly, it all began again, this time much closer than before. I ran to the bedroom and lay down on the floor, right beside Sa. She petted me and assured me that it was just people ringing in the new year and that it wouldn’t last long. She was right, but I don’t see how terrifying dogs is a good way to celebrate anything — I may never understand the human species.