I have one of the most amazing commutes in the world. I blogged about that drive once before with some photos here. It is a 35 mile drive from my home to my job. The first 9 miles of my drive are across the Santa Ynez valley and then over the Santa Ynez mountains using the Gaviota Pass until I run right into the Pacific Ocean. About the next 20 miles are along the Gaviota Coast, a gorgeous and almost completely undeveloped coastline with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. There are a few ranches on the mountain side including one with llamas, but mostly it is rock and chaparral. The road weaves closer and farther from the ocean but for most of that stretch, it is very close to the water.
It is a California highway so I rarely drive it much under 70 mph. That means that I get glimpses of incredible beauty but rarely get to savor them. Today was one of those days. As we came through the pass, the sun was shinning brilliantly. There are multiple oil platforms visible from the shore, all of which are a minimum of 3 miles from the shoreline. Some 22+ miles out are the Channel Islands. Often the islands are obscured by fog. Today, there was a fog bank we could watch moving across the ocean, slowly enveloping one after another of the oil platforms. I caught a glimpse of what I think was a whale spout and then a bit of the back of a whale submerging into the water. I have seen whales from my car at least 2 other times and possibly 3. A number of times a year I see a pod of dolphins swimming by. Watching the surfers on their boards always makes me think of the surfers and swimmers who have been attacked by great white sharks in the area. Once or twice a week we see scuba divers putting on their equipment to dive and I wonder what amazing things they will see.
I look both left and right, mountains and sea, and see beauty and wonder both ways but today I was struck by the realization that I feel comfortable on the land. That is where I live. I understand the mountains. I know there is danger there - rattlesnakes, mountain lions, bear, the possibilities of dehydration or a fall, or even getting lost in the wilderness, but it still feels familiar. The ocean... that is another world altogether, just feet away but completely foreign to me.