I’m sure I’ve never seen lawn bowling before and probably had only heard of it in some English novel written by the likes of Thomas Hardy but there it is before me on this splendid Sunday in Laguna Beach—a bunch of oldsters dressed in their whites and obviously enjoying themselves. We arrived here via Hwy. 101, California’s coast road, looking for a park where we might enjoy some beach time.
Crystal Cove State Park stretched for a couple of miles but every parking lot wanted a minimum of a flat rate $15 to park which we felt was too costly given we didn’t know how long we would actually be on the beach. What if it was only an hour? We continued south into the small town of Laguna Beach following a sign which indicated free parking to catch the shuttle. There we found a Pavilions market, part of the same chain as Safeway and Vons, so we stopped in finding some good wine buys and decided on the spot to do a picnic with some freshly baked sourdough and cheese. We added a couple of plastic glasses and suitably equipped headed for a beachside city park which the checker had told me about. At least the parking was metered and for $2 we got an hour and a half.
The park is well done with gorgeous flora and winding walkways, picnic tables overlooking the very clear Pacific, and pieces of tiny beach interrupted by rocky outcroppings. Although picnicking is allowed, drinking is not so there went our grandiose idea of a European lunch. We chose to walk instead.
There’s no doubt at all that people here enjoy the good life. As the fog lifted from the beach and surrounding hillsides filled with expensive homes we ogled, we were passed by many hard-bodies jogging, walking dogs and staking out claims to picnic tables. Below us, children frolicked and screamed in the cold Pacific.
We never did find a place to have our picnic. We lamented California’s riot of regulations and rules, crowds and lack of freedoms. How many times had we wandered down to an Oregon beach, even in state parks, to watch a sunset over our bottle of wine or had a picnic with a bottle accompanying a fresh Dungeness crab? Parks here were either jammed packed with no parking or weren’t equipped with any amenities beyond mountain bike trails so we returned to our RV park and sat and had our European lunch outdoors on our own picnic table. The ambiance wasn’t as nice but at least the parking was already paid for.