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Savoring Summer in Malibu by Eric Harnish
October, 2023 - Issue #224
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock

Sitting in the sand at Malibu's Westward Beach on a recent Saturday, I had a sudden, somewhat-sad realization: this was our first summer family beach day.
"Granted, school is back in session, but the weather says unequivocally that SUMMER IS STILL ON."
Granted, school is back in session, but the calendar - and the weather - says unequivocally summer is still on.
That we had waited this long for a family beach trip was a testament to the dynamics of parenting teenagers. Everyone is on a different schedule now - and they rarely align. Which is why it was just me, April and our youngest daughter Amber on this outing.
But regardless of the calendar, and the lower-than-normal attendance, we were determined to make the most of the day. And we did.
We arrived at 9:45am to claim one of the last free parking spots next to the sand. It was a short haul to the water's edge, so we quickly planted our umbrella and chairs and settled into relax mode.
The day was bright and sunny, but a storm moving up from Mexico gave the waves extra punch. They didn't roll in so much as detonate on the shore, sending a churn of whitewater splashing high.
Undeterred by the conditions, or more likely enticed by them, five wetsuited Boogie boarders bobbed in the water waiting to drop in and let the fast-closing barrels wrap around them.
Amber napped for a bit, then ventured into the water. She's a strong swimmer, but we kept a close eye on her given the unpredictable waves. She swam for a bit, riding over some steep swells and diving under others. Soon she was wading back in.
"They started getting really big ... so...," she explained between deep breaths.
On the sand, it was a typical day at the beach. Couples leisurely strolled close to the water. A dude launched a large black-and-yellow kite with long twin black tails. Four Sheriff's deputies rode by on four-wheel ATVs.
They stopped for a couple so the girl could snap a picture of her guy astride one of them.
Westward Beach was Amber's idea and it just so happened that a clothing brand she follows on Instagram was hosting a pop-up shop nearby. Maps said it was within walking distance so I gamely went along with her to find it. We gave up when the app took us down a residential street and pointed us through somebody's yard to reach our destination.
We walked back to the beach, and after eating lunch, we decided to pack it up and head south to Malibu Pier. We stopped along the way at the pop-up. Amber didn't buy anything. I guess we don't pay enough allowance to make $75 tube tops affordable.
Parking at the pier was impossible, so we doubled back to the Malibu Country Mart outdoor mall. Amber wandered off to find more affordable shopping alternatives. April and I grabbed coffee from Alfred and relaxed at a shady picnic table.
Amber returned shortly, having been successful at Brandy Melville. Thirsty, she ordered an Iced O.G. Chagaccino at Alfred. Here, let me save you from googling it: "a blend of wild-foraged chaga mushroom, cacao, cinnamon, vanilla and monk fruit, topped with Alfred Espresso and milk." Normally, you lose me at mushroom anything, but it was creamy, smooth and tasty.
It was getting late, so we started home. Nobody was in a hurry for the day to end, so instead of the shortest route back to Santa Clarita, we took the longer, more-scenic option. We drove north on PCH toward Ventura and State Route 126, keeping an eye on the Pacific to our left.
If this was our first - and likely only - beach day this summer, it made sense to savor it and make it last. And we did.
Eric Harnish lives in Castaic, which is sadly Chagaccino-free.

Plan your Beach Day!
Westward Beach
(Located south of Zuma Beach on Westward Beach Road)
Alfred alfred.la
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