Saturday, October 5, 2013

Cape Arago (lite)

Grandson Daweson surprised us with an unexpected overnight visit but I gladly returned my backpack to the hanger in the basement. I can always do a coast weekender some other time, weather permitting. In a giving mood, I added Daweson's cousins Aiden and Coral Rae to the mix and we headed off to Cape Arago for a kiddie hike.

The little darlings
When the kiddies got restless, which was only about 5 minutes into the drive, I trotted out the old tongue-twister "I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit..." Peals of laughter broke out every time one of them inadvertently said the bad word that particular tongue-twister is designed to elicit. Juvenile and puerile and not my proudest moment as a grandfather, but on the other hand that particular activity kept them engaged for the rest of the trip.  I didn't have to hear one whiny "How much longer?" on the two hour drive

Calm, just like me after the lobotomy
Starting out at Sunset Bay, the boys were off and running down the trail while Coral Rae stayed with me, prattling on about unicorns, princesses, sparkly dresses, and such. As a Cape Arago veteran, I'm always amazed at the how much of the park's acreage and trail system has been gobbled up by the ocean over the last 5 years or so. At one point, a fence herds hikers off onto the new trail system that works its way inland and away from the cliffs. Safer, but the old trail used to be so cool. The boys saw the fence and immediately climbed over to see what was on the other side, earning a stern admonishment from their grandfather.

Atop the shoreline cliffs
I was nervous as we hiked on the unfenced trail that hugs the cliffs above the restless ocean below but by this time the kids had gotten the message and they sensibly saved the horseplay for a safer stretch of trail. From the cliffs we had nice view of Sunset Bay and all the islands and shoals dotting the surf. The Cape Arago lighthouse was eminently visible on the largest island across the turquoise waters.

A concretion in the sandstone
At the site of the old (and eroding) tennis courts belonging to the old Simpson estate, the waves crashing over the reefs have eroded the inclined sandstone layers into all sorts of phantasmagorical shapes that resemble a herd of macabre sea lions. Despite it being high tide, the sea was as uncharacteristically calm as a mountain lake at dawn. The boys were off and scrambling up and down the rocky shoals and exploring the tide pools.

Stinky calamari, anyone?
After a lunch at the whale observation building, we continued on to Simpson Beach which wound up being the highlight for the kids. There was much wading, splashing, swimming, followed by a body-burying session in the warm sand. Aiden found a squid tentacle that smelled atrocious and Coral Rae filled her pockets with shell and rock treasures.

Golden gods 
After the hike, I treated them to burgers, soda,  and ice cream.  Fully sugared up and confined in a cramped car on the way home, they quickly became bored and restless.  It was time to trot out "I'm not the pheasant plucker, I am the pheasant plucker's son; I just pluck pheasants until the pheasant plucker comes"  I'm either the best or the worst grandfather, ever.

For more pictures of scenic Cape Arago, see the Flickr album.


  1. Looks like a great day out Grandpa :) Cheers Robyn :)

  2. You are too funny Richard. I will have to remember those tongue twisting lines when I am a grandfather. Coast looked beautiful!!!