We stopped for lunch in the first of two larger coves with sandy beaches. While we where eating lunch three boatloads of Mexican fishermen arrived and unloaded a ton of equipment. They filled the only good campsite with a temporary fishing camp so we moved on looking for another place to camp. The next cove had clear water over bright white sand. The small wind ripples in the waves over this sand made the water oscillate rapidly with blue/cyan/gold colors. It looked like liquid electricity. The sand on the beach was so fine and powdery that it would make camping uncomfortable. We paddled on to the next and largest cove which was San Franciscico Bay. There is an airstrip here and several resorts. Large party boats were anchored bay with smaller pongas zooming tourists in and out. There was trash everywhere on the beaches. We landed on several of the beaches anyway to try them out and got very discouraged. We decided to go back to the powdery sand beach and camp there even though it meant going three kilometers backwards.
I didn’t want to camp on the sand and have it tracked into all my gear. Everyone else was setting up camp at the end of the beach next to a rocky outcropping. The rock made convenient places to set up stoves and other kitchen gear. It had a sandy bottomed hole in it that had water washing up into it at high tide. We called this the “wave organ” when it made wonderful noises in the surf. It was called the kitchen sink other times, or the garbage disposal (where we put only organic waste). On the other side of Wave Organ Rock from the sand beach there was a steep gravel beach that did not have any flat spots where you could set up a tent. I took my folding shovel and did an “engineering project” to dig a flat spot large enough to set up one tent. Then Maryly and I had a nice campground on a gravel beach that didn’t track sand into all our gear.
The fine powdery sand that made up this beach turned out to be the end of a fossil beach. A wide stripe of this white sand went diagonally up into the hills. Apparently this used to be a beach once where waves had time to grind rocks into sand. Then it was lifted and tilted up at an angle and most of the sand is now high and dry. Only one end of the old beach hung down into the sea, and this created a little cove that we were camped on. Standing on the wave organ rock after sunset I looked at the rocky shores around me. Because life is so thinly spread in the desert here you can see the bare bones of the land sloping down into the water. The fossil beach brought to my mind the idea that even this shoreline is only temporary. Volcanoes, earthquakes and tectonic activity have been shoving the land around for billions of years and re-organizing it. But there is always someplace where the land meets the ocean so there is always a beach somewhere.
My mind overflowed with visions of the land flowing and changing over eons of time. I could almost comprehend the extent of “geological time”. The impossibly tiny stretch of my own lifetime in comparison should have humbled me, but instead I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of joy. Tears came to my eyes and my chest felt as if it was going to burst. The rugged hills sloping into the water are completely indifferent to me and didn’t care if I was there or not. Yet I felt incredibly privileged to be in this place at this time to view this snapshot of the shoreline.
Later when we were in our tents a whale swam into our cove and settled in for the night. Apparently Maryly and I were not the only ones to get out of bed and stand on the beach staring onto the starlight on the cove trying to see this whale. Sound carries far over the water at night and it sounded as if the whale was only a few meters offshore. We could hear the gentile explosive sound of the whale exhaling, then the hollow whistling sound of inhalation. Waking up again in the middle of the night I could still hear the whale breathing. There were jokes the next morning about the “neighbors” snoring and keeping us awake at night.