down to the shouting sea

Rockaway beach Pacifica June 2020
Taking a break from posting about my virtual tour of Great Britain. The shelter-in-place is tough. As much as I love being at home around all my stuff, in this oppressive Davis heat some cooler outside time is needed, and in California you cool off at the beach. That is where the cool air blows in. We took a day in Pacifica, just south of San Francisco, sat on the beach at Rockaway. It’s nice there, although my legs got a bit burnt as the rays snuck undetected through the bands of fog, and my sunscreen wasn’t quite thick enough. We had missed out on an expected weekend here in May, when the soccer tournament we’d signed our team up for was cancelled. Shame; I was hoping to win it this time. I didn’t climb the rocks, but I drew them, so that’s the same. In this sketch I actually used a masking fluid pen for the waves, I had picked that up in London last year, I don’t use it much but it was great for this purpose. I had sand in the fingers and sand between my toes. This reminds me of the illustration in the A.A.Milne book, “When We Were Very Young”, specifically the one for the poem I just mentioned, “Sand-Between-The-Toes”. I loved that book as a kid, and loved it as a parent too when my son was really small, but I really loved the drawings, and especially that one. It reminded me of being at beaches on cold, windswept days, looking out at the sea, tasting salt in the air, then heading somewhere warm for fish and chips and a cup of tea. On this day in Pacifica, we were masked up down at the beach, thankfully not too many people about, before walking around the little community of Rockaway Beach a bit, and getting a milkshake at Johnny Rocket’s (although I got the wrong flavour, in a case of misunderstanding through the mask).

Jeez I want all this to be over, this bloody pandemic, but it’s not. I have been posting on Twitter a bunch of “this time last year” or “on this day in 2016” or whenever posts, showing where I was and what I was sketching, somewhere far away in a time when people were fine mingling all together. This time last year we were on our summer trip through Holland and Belgium and France, and then London, and this year we had hoped to see Italy again, but Americans can’t go anywhere now. We did manage to take a few days earlier this month to drive down Big Sur, which was pretty spectacular. I suppose if you’re going to be stuck anywhere, California is a pretty nice place to be. Just this Davis summer heat, it’s oppressive.


Pacifica hydrant
Hey folks! Another slight pause in posting; I’ve been away on vacation, no spoilers about where I went but it rhymes with “bitterly”, specifically “dome” and “menace”, as I say you will have to wait to find out where from my many many sketches. But in the unforgettable words of Jar-Jar Binks, “meesa back!” I can’t remember where I was with my sketches, oh yes, Pacifica. So a week after my son’s soccer team’s tournament in Nevada we had another one down in the beach town of Pacifica. The waves were high and the air was salty, and our team did excellently, only missing out on qualifying for the final on goal difference. I did of course get a good bit of sketching in, and here it is. Above, a hydrant near the Ocean. Below, two views either side of the same rocky outcrop, from two different beaches. The top one was Rockaway Beach, right outside our hotel, and sketched on a super windy morning. Those waves were incredible, and the beach was covered in fluffy sea-foam blown in from the Pacific.
PAcifica beachPAcifica beach
PAcifica beachgoers
And don’t forget the beachgoers. With the waves so big there were a lot of extra surfers out. I used to want to be a surfer, when I was young. It was mostly because it was as far away as something people in Burnt Oak would do that I could think of, so therefore it was what I wanted to do. I always imagined I would live in Australia, surfing every week, walking about town in my wetsuit, but that never happened. Instead I live in California (not near the beach) and seriously, I ain’t getting in no wetsuit now. That’s ok, I’m fine with that. I just sketch the surfers now.
Pacifica milkshake at Rock'n'Robbies
Possibly one reason why is my love for delicious milkshakes, and this one was partaken at the local Rockaway Beach diner “Rock’n’Robs”. Cookies and cream flavour. Yeah, no surfing for me now. Another reason may be the found in the image below. “Nick’s” is a 90-year-old bar and lounge in splashing distance of the Pacific waves, and a few steps from our hotel, so I popped by to sketch their bar and try a few beers. That slanted mirror let me sketch the patrons to my right, and on the other side of the bar a band played and local couples danced. It was a fun place to spend the evening.

PAcifica Nicks sm

And here is a sketch of the small town itself, the Rockaway Beach part of Pacifica. Pretty nice down here. It’s really close to San Francisco by the way, surprisingly near, yet it feels a million miles away. I liked it; I think we’ll be back.

Pacifica Rockaway Beach