For the first dozen or so years of this tradition, our destination was Martin's Beach. With toddlers and babies along, we appreciated the convenient parking, picnic tables, tide pools, and flush toilets. A few years back we were disappointed to find the road locked and our favorite beach inaccessible, so we continued south to San Gregorio State Beach, which we now love for the endless expanse of sand, the lagoon for splashing, copious driftwood for construction, and sheltering cliffs with caves. We miss flush toilets, though.
No predictable relationship exists between the weather on this side of the hill and the ocean side. On Hwy 92 we left the sunshine behind and drove down the coast through thick, wet fog. But the beach was calm and warmer than expected, so the kids were soon pealing off sweatshirts and getting soaked in the ocean spray. Kites, sand castles, or whiffle ball are often the activities of choice, but this year a recent high tide had deepened the lagoon, so the kids spent hours floating while straddling or standing on massive driftwood logs and paddling in circles with sand shovels. Logs roll readily, so there was a lot of shrieking and splashing as they balanced precariously and slipped off the make-shift boats.
We end the day with hot chocolate from the drive-through coffee booth in Half Moon Bay. In a few years my youngest kids will be able to drive themselves to the beach, so my presence will no longer be essential, but I'm hoping that if I keep bringing brownies and treat for hot chocolate, they might let me tag along!