A Happy Thing to Do: Pacific wave jumping in your regular clothes

Over the past two days, my son and I enjoyed a getaway to San Francisco. I’m actually getting teary-eyed thinking of how these two wonderful days are already gone. Then school starts tomorrow, and I have to go back to work.

He’s become a big reader, and interested in some pretty heavy-duty books, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. With its beat writers cred, City Lights bookstore was the first stop on our tour. We spent about two hours there, and he came across some interesting titles: novels about World War I and the Russian Revolution by a Czech and Russian writer. Oh, and since he heard that War and Peace was the greatest book ever written, he said he wanted to buy that and add to his collection. He wouldn’t listen when I told him that, in my opinion, Anna Karenina is better.

Yesterday, we decided to just wander around to different parts of the city. We drove over to the Golden Gate Bridge and walk halfway across the span. Yes, it was a spectacular day. Unusually warm in San Francisco, but with that ocean breeze. The city sparkled, as did the sky and the blue-gray water. From there we started to headed south along the 49-mile Scene Drive, winding around the cliffs down to Baker Beach and past Sea Cliff. Once along the Great Highway, we saw Ocean Beach, and I asked if he wanted to stop and walk in the son.

Sure, he said, but he regretted not having his swim suit. The ocean yesterday looked so inviting.

I had not brought my suit either, not thinking we’d be going into any water, even a swimming pool, during our short trip to the city. Also, yesterday’s weather was so unexpectedly warm after the cool summer we have had the Bay Area. I had packed for our overnight San Francisco trip for fog city.

Then, I realized, I had my running shorts, so I could change out of my jeans and into those wear my T-shirt. He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. And, yes, we could wash everything. We didn’t have towels, but we had t-shirts and a cotton nightgown packed in our suitcases. Those would work for drying off. We also had some bottles of water to wash off and a brush.

So, in we went, my son and I, into the waves at Ocean Beach. The only thing I hesitated about were warning signs of the rip tide and memories of news accounts of people people swept away. But we didn’t go out too far. Just waist deep. And my son has become pretty experienced at surfing and boogie boarding during trips to San Diego, so he felt confident being in the waves. Still, I didn’t want him to go too far from me.

The water was cold and braces, but not as artic as it often seems at Northern California beaches. The day was so warm, and the sun was beating down on us. The waves hit us and we dove in, getting totally soaked and tasting the salt. We rode some waves, body surfing style. We laughed, and delighted in being so spontaneous and so unconventional–without our swim suits and our day-at-the-beach towel, umbrella and other gear. Just our regular clothes. That was a big part of the fun.

A day. An afternoon I’ll never forget.

8 thoughts on “A Happy Thing to Do: Pacific wave jumping in your regular clothes

  1. Sounds like a nice day. My son and I did almost the exact same thing on an impromptu road trip to Pacifica a few months back.

    I already had on a pair of nylon hiking shorts so I didn't need to change. However, in retrospect, I probably should have taken my phone out of my pocket first. 😦


  2. What wonderful memories you are creating with your son!

    How much fun it is to do something silly on the spur of the moment.

    Keep up the good work Mom!

    Sadie B


  3. Sorry to rain on your parade here but the warning signs of the rip tide on Ocean Beach are there for a reason. And I can assure you each and every drowning victim’s or their loved one's last thoughts were:

    “But we didn't go out too far.” “Just waist deep.” “And my son has become pretty experienced at surfing and boogie boarding during trips to San Diego, so he felt confident being in the waves.” “Still, I didn't want him to go too far from me.”


  4. What a fun day. Especially hitting City Lights–what a great old-fashioned bookstore in the best sense of the word. Future book outings might include Green Apple on Clement Street or Dog Eared Books on Valencia–both great stores.

    It's true, the rip tide is really bad at Ocean Beach. I have an eight-year-old and just before school started I took him to the beach at Aquatic Park near the Maritime Museum. Small waves, calm enough for swimming (it's where the Dolphin Club swims) and surprisingly not too crowded on such a hot day. Probably because it's not easy to get there on public transportation (we braved a cable car–he likes those). China Camp Beach in San Rafael is another really calm beach that's good for swimming. Not as thrilling, but sometimes that's OK. Glad you had such a good day all around–we should all aim for that.


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