The ocean is truth. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not, and it doesn’t lie to you. It tells you when it’s mad, and when it’s content. As I climbed over rocks that could have passed for mountains, and slid down the sides of boulders, this truth was unmistakable. The tide being low, the ocean seemed to whisper with its subtle breezes that it was safe. At least for a while. I delightedly turned to the entrance, and watched as the waves kissed the rocks, and as the rocks caressed the loving sea, old lovers never to part. But soon, too soon, the tide started to reach for me, and the time of leisure slipped away. I needed to go back.
Back is to my grandma’s house on the cliff where she has lived for 59 years. Her Spanish style house is one of the original homes built by Mr. Woodruff, a man with a luxurious vision for Dana Point. Woodruff wanted to turn Dana Point into the “Riviera” of California, complete with many homes and a grand Ritz Carleton Hotel. The first floor and the elevator shaft (for sneaking alcohol into the hotel during the Prohibition) were completed when the Great Depression hit, stopping everything in its tracks.
The real Dana Point that grew after that was very simple, with only the basic necessities. But once the harbor was built, the real world invaded and it was brought back into bustling twentieth century.
Commercialization could only change Dana Point so much. Although altered, todays Dana Point still expresses the simple happiness of easier times. The park is like the center of town, with Sunday concerts and 4th of July views of firework displays. Dana Point just continues to be a medium sized beach town nestled into a wonderful vibrant area.
My favorite place to go is the San Juan Capistrano Mission. Flowers and stone pathways through the classic mission make it a wonderful place to go and think. I love photographing the astonishing butterflies and wonderful ivy covered walls. Church services are unique because of the tranquil atmosphere. My advice would be to pick up a book on the history of the Mission and read it while you are wandering around the gardens.
There’s also the Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival and the Pageant of the Masters, two life changing summer events. The Sawdust Festival features local artists, all with unique items. They have children activities, and booths full of fairies and clothing to occupy the little ones. The photography exhibits are amazing. Every photo in the festival is full of life and imagination, a great atmosphere for aspiring artists. The Pageant of the Masters is a magnificent show where famous paintings are recreated using people. You need binoculars to see that these aren’t real paintings. Every year there’s a new theme, and none disappoint. Last year when I went for the first time, the theme was Only Make Believe. It was the most entertaining show of my life. Every moment was filled with Mischief, sculptures, paintings, and even a fire breathing dragon!
There are many things that I could continue to talk about, the excellent restaurants, the community, the scenery, but Dana Point is a place to be explored, not to be mapped out. History runs deep into every cell of this surfing town, once known for its “Killer” waves. Although now alarm systems are installed in every house, where once doors went unlocked, it continues to be a warm, welcoming place. From any angle, Dana Point is a place everyone could call Home.
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