I am standing on a cliff staring out at the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Below me sea lions wail to each other as they crowd the rocky crags of the cliffs, and I am in complete awe of just how big an ocean can be. The Pacific Ocean stretches out seemingly endlessly in front of me; the only end appears to be the horizon line, but I know that it doesn’t even come close to stopping there. It feels as if the entire culmination of this trip has been leading up to this point. Finally seeing the ocean, hearing the sea lions bark, the wind blowing against my face. My family and I started this trip intending to see all the west coast had to offer. We had visited the Newport aquarium, saw the redwoods in northern California, and experienced the majesty of a black sand beach. After all those amazing experiences we decided to cap it off with the sea lion caves.
I was standing on a beach in northern California. My brother and I were running away from the encroaching tide and throwing sand at each other. On the beach there appeared to be a large log. My brother and I, after we were bored of messing with each other, approached the log and saw it was not driftwood but a gutted sea lion. This was my first experience with those animals. It was draped in kelp and seaweed, half decomposed, and littered with wounds and scars. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t touch it. We just left. The next day we saw the sea lion caves. It was a shock to see something I had just seen lying on a beach dead, alive and communicating with each other.
To get to the underbelly of the Sea Lion Caves you must take a five-minute elevator ride deep into the cliff side. As the elevator descends you can feel the air around you get staler and colder. Inside the Sea Lion Caves there is a sea lion skeleton and I stared at it in awe knowing that this is what will be on the beach one day. Down in the depths of the cliff there is a small opening onto a cove area where you can watch sea lions lie on a small rock outcropping through thick metal bars. After exploring the insides of the caves, my family and I headed above ground.
My family and I climbed to the top of a cliff and stared out at the Pacific Ocean. Immediately below us there are probably a hundred sea lions barking. There barks almost entirely overpower the sounds of the waves violently hitting the rocks. The wind is fast and stings our faces with ocean spray, and almost blows me over the edge of the barrier after one particularly strong gust. The Pacific Ocean is a vast body of water that stretches farther than the human eye could ever hope to see but that didn’t stop me from trying. My brother laughs at me and my awe struck expression and I laugh at him in return. How silly of me to be impressed by water, but I am anyway. I hug him and the rest of my family, warm despite the chilled ocean air. Together, we watch the sea lions bathe themselves in the sun communicating with their family. For a moment the idea of mortality doesn’t bother. I am happy to be with my own colony. Each of us still learning how to keep the others afloat.
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