The Pier in Oceanside
At home, I am a local living in a tourist town, so it is nice to be a tourist in someone else's hometown. To see what they live in. day in and day out.
I used to avoid tourist spots; I wanted to always see everything as a local. When I lived in New York, it took me years to visit the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. Now I don't want to avoid anything. I want to see all the hidden gems that only the cognoscenti whisper about, as well as the worn-out cliched tourist traps and everything in between. I want to see it all. Today it's the Oceanside Municipal Pier, just north of San Diego< California.
I drove Sophia up the Coast Highway through the morning fog with the top down and the heat on. The California marine layer spread over the road. It muted all the colors of the ocean, the beach grass, and the homes along the way and gave me a feeling of being in a painting. There were seagulls flying right over my head, (which is not something you can see in a hardtop). There were herds of bicyclists migrating up along the coast, and more leisurely, other rag-top owners waving and smiling as they passed. It was beautiful. I was in no hurry to get anywhere; I was already there.
By the time I got to the pier, the sun had burned off the fog and the day went from muted to brilliant. Miraculously, parking was easy; I found a space right across the street from the entrance to the pier.
I decided to check out the beach first.
The sand at the water's edge is full of sparkling gold flecks. There were sailboats in the distance against the remainder for the fog. It was rather a "Storybook".
There were surfing students in neon-green vests gathered near the tall wooden pier. Artists had set up their easels to paint. There were people throwing frisbees and footballs in between clumps of brightly colored beach umbrellas planted in the sand, and underneath all of that was the sound of the ocean relentlessly pulling away tension and putting my brain in order. The perfect, typical California beach day.
The pier itself is long and wooden with long stretches of fishermen, young and old waiting, talking. fishing.
There are some long stretches of ten or twenty fishing poles just standing with their lines in the water, unattended, waiting for a fish to make the first move. Just look at the water, though.
Near the end of the pier, there is a fishing bait shack. It had all the colorful, touristy stuff that I love and buy and then find perfectly useless once I get home. In the moment though, I have to buy it and treasure it.
I was getting hungry and the restaurant at the end of the pier was closed, so I walked back toward land and down the ramp and found a little stand sort of tucked under the pier called Tin Fish.
It was in a small building just big enough to cook seafood in and you eat at metal tables outside. I ordered a soft taco with salmon. I have to say, because of its location, under the walkway to the pier, I wasn't expecting much, and I was happily surprised. True to the sign, the fish was very fresh and well prepared.
I'd definitely go again.
When I originally told my friends, who are locals, that I was headed for the pier, they looked at me funny.. as if 'Of all the places, why on earth ?' But the truth is: I love piers. There are many piers all up and down the California coast. They have similarities, yet all are unique. They are another great reason to just stop and enjoy living in this gorgeous state.
We are planning to stop at as many of them as we can in the next year or so (as well as many other wonderful California spots). Join us here on our adventures.