Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oso Flaco Lake

"Is that a dead body back there?"  the ranger asked, as we pulled into the entrance of the parking lot.

I heard a snort.  "No, no, that's my mannequin," I said.

"Does she have a name?"

"Mimi."

The ranger poked her head inside the van.  "Hello, Mimi.  My sister has a mannequin just like you.  It's where she hangs all her necklaces."

Mimi beamed.  Her whole existence had just been validated.  She didn't mind one bit staying behind while my travel buddy and I walked to the lake.


Oso Flaco Lake is a landscape painter's dream.  As I walked along the boardwalk, I pictured Monet sitting on a stool dabbing green and pink paint on to a large white canvas.  The beauty (and the odd nature) of this place left me a little stunned.  This time of year the lake is a mosaic of dune grass and phosphorescent algae.  Emerald headed mallards and cinnamon teals swim through the plants, adding to the explosion of color.  A magic moment?  Heck, yeah.  This is what I live for.
This fresh water lake is part of the Oceano Dunes State Park in California.  A dirt trail starts out at the parking lot and then turns into a boardwalk over the lake.  The 2.2 mile round trip hike eventually leads to the dunes and finally, the ocean.  There are several interpretive signs along the way, identifying the plants and birds that you might see.  Hundreds of waterfowl, including local marsh birds and migratory visitors, can be seen here.  When I got home and started uploading my photos, I was shocked to find out I had taken nearly 200 of them.
 
When we reached the beach, we took off our hiking boots and walked barefoot through the sand.  It took a lot of coaxing for my travel buddy to get me to walk back, it was so enchanting.  I toyed with the idea of putting Oso Flaco Lake on my Most Beautiful Places on Earth list.  I didn't dare tell Mimi what an incredible experience this hike had been because she was still beaming when we got back.  

But since it's only an hour's drive from home, maybe next time, I'll bring her with me.  And a white canvas, a stool, brushes and paint.  

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