Took the local roads through Santa Monica and Venice one day to get to Malibu, which I'd never been to before. I realized 3 hours into the drive that Saturday was the worst day to decide to go. I drove up and down PCH looking for a beach that wasn't already packed, cursing this inaccessible town and all the glass houses perched smugly on the cliffs. I stood in a long, hopeless line to get to Zuma, my stomach growling. I u-turned and zipped out with more cursing. I hated Malibu already. But then, I saw this little food place that ended up being such a haven away from the crowd and heat. Up a windy hill it sat, hidden and thus virtually empty. I had an amazing crabcake sandwich and rosemary sweet potato fries there before heading onward, still in search of a freakin beach to go to for 1/2 an hour.

I ended up at Paradise Cove, which had emptied out by now, but still paying a whopping $25 to park! But it was worth it. There were a handful of people left on the beach as it was close to 5 o'clock. I decided to take a stroll. The cliffs loomed ancient and a bit unsettling to the left of me. It was breathtaking. There were many surfers taking advantage of the high, rough waves (P.S. California surfers are super cute and super friendly), and there was me running around the cliff walls, trying not to get clobbered by those waves. It was fun. The rocks were so gorgeous, in their mustardy, amber tones, crevices and markings....It got more and more secluded the farther you went along. You could walk for miles.

Before I got to Paradise Cove, I went down a residential road to one of the hidden beach access gates, thinking maybe here was my door to the beach! A couple of electricians were there fixing a line. I asked one of them how to get on to the beach. First, he pointed a finger towards the gate, then paused and emphatically said, "Hell, I haven't seen the beach myself in a long while, I'll go down with you." So off we went down a small path between two beautiful houses. "Isn't this a private beach?" I asked. "There aint' no such thing as a private beach in California," he exclaimed. "If there was, what'd we all do?!"

In front of us was ocean. There was no beach, the tide was so high. There was a set of stairs that normally led down to the sand, but at that moment, it led to the deep, rough waters. It was daunting. Huge rocks were on either side. Malibu, as beautiful as it was, was like being caught between a rock and a hard place. I thanked the electrician and went on my way.

Here is one watercolor of the cliffs at Paradise Cove.


  1. even if there wasn't a beach, it still looks like paradise!

  2. charlotte, your artwork is always such a gift, a window, a doorway. lovely!

    ($25 to park! the ocean belongs to all of us....)



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