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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

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About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Beach day

Uploaded: Jun 1, 2014
The day after school is out, my kids and I pack a picnic, gather friends, and head to Half Moon Bay and the beach. I grew up in the Midwest, and enjoyed spending childhood summers either submerged in or afloat on lakes and river, but I thrill at the realization that I now live within a short drive of a coast with sandy beach, crashing waves, and salty sea air.

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!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Debbie, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 1, 2014 at 8:31 pm

A beautiful tradition for the first day of summer! Great photos of the trip. I love the fact that the beach has something different to offer depending on the tide and weather conditions. The driftwood boats sound like lots of fun.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Edita, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jun 2, 2014 at 7:46 pm


Glad you had a great day. One day long ago, we took our pre-schoolers and it was so windy we couldn't eat our sandwiches. But you reminded me about the driftwood and how fun it was to a make sculptures and shelters. Love the photos.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by teddie, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 8:27 am

Thanks for a great day. My daughter told us all about the driftwood boats and how much fun she had. People like you who engage our kids and take the time to be involved are what make this community so great.
Thank you!

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 9:45 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

HI Debbie,
It is one of my favorite traditions, hard to tell who is having more fun, the kids or me?
Hi Edita,
The wind can be a challenge at the beach. It was amazingly calm last week. The bluffs there can provide a pretty good wind break, but if it is really blowing, "sand" sandwiches are not tasty.
Hi teddie,
So glad your daughter could join us. The great part about being outdoors with kids is that nature is so engaging and the kids come up with such creative ideas for fun. It's a privilege to watch!

 +  Like this comment
Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Jun 4, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Chocolate brownies should work to get you to the beach no matter how independent your children are. Lovely piece, Sally!

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