I didn’t get as much photography done this week as my loyal fans have come to expect. I did however, have every intention of spending a night sleeping at the coast. I traveled out to the coast on Sunday, took some pictures of the beach, and found what looked like an ideal spot to spend a quiet night listening to the waves crashing on the shore.
My ideal spot was a vista point, just off an incredibly remote section of Highway 1, with a sign indicating it was closed. Closer inspection led me to believe that it was just the restrooms which were actually closed. There was no gate blocking the road out to the vista point. The parking lot and trails, while incredibly run-down, were all perfectly accessible. There was just enough of a rise in middle of the access road to prevent traffic along Highway 1 from seeing a car parked in the vista point’s parking lot. And when I scouted it during the daytime, I realized that the “closed” sign was deterring traffic from using the vista point.
Later still I made my first attempt at taking pictures of the stars and Milky Way, before moonrise. I still haven’t gotten a tripod, so I was just setting my camera on the roof of the Prius and using the delay timer to allow for a reasonably steady shot. Clearly I will need a wider angle lens for really good shots of the Milky Way.
After I grew tired of struggling to get decent shots of the stars, and the traffic had dwindled to essentially zero, I headed back to the abandoned vista point. At about 9 PM I fell asleep. It felt like 10 PM, since we just changed the clocks, but still this was an early night for me. I was thinking it would be a good opportunity to catch up on my sleep, listening to faint sounds of the ocean down below.
At about 9:45 I was awoken by “The Man” rapping a flashlight on my window, demanding to know if I had any weapons in the car, and demanding to see my driver’s license. I was somewhat prepared for this, having read quite a bit of The Survival Guide to Homelessness. Even so, being woken up this way did come as a bit of a shock. Fortunately I wake up sweet. And actually it wasn’t exactly “The Man,” it was a lady, park ranger, rather than a cop. She was rather gruff looking, and very gruff sounding at first. By the end of the conversation though, after running my license, she ended up sounding a lot sweeter. Towards the end of the conversation, I suspect she was starting to realize how ludicrous it was to wake up a person who was tired enough to be sleeping in their car, insist that they leave an abandoned parking lot in the middle of nowhere, and drive in their tired out condition back to town. It’s hard for me to see how that was “in the public interest” and I suspect she was questioning it as well. At any rate, I got the impression that she was just following policy and not terribly enthusiastic about having to do so.
By the time that was over I really needed sleep a lot more than I needed further adventures, so I headed back in to town (a few hours driving), and slept at the standard Walmart parking lot. I’m really developing a deep appreciation for Walmart’s policy allowing people to sleep there without any hassle. And so far, I’ve seen the same RV in the parking lot every day, so I’m not the only one enjoying their accommodations.
I will have to seek out another place to sleep on weekends in the future. The coast is looking like a bigger challenge than I would ever have guessed.