The plans for LA completely fell apart -- exactly why I wanted to bypass LA with an option to go into it if things came together. We were now required to descend into hell not knowing what we were going to do when we got there. Chris's idiosyncracies were getting to me, a sure sign that I was in a pissy mood. We stopped at a state beach for a bathroom break, and as I waited for Chris I realized what I needed to do. A jump in the ocean would do me good (and hopefully stop my mind from going over all the bad things that I dwell on when I'm in a pissy mood).

We locked the bikes up, I stripped, and did a running leap into the Pacific. I bodysurfed a bit, half froze to death, grinning like a maniac the whole time even though I was repeatedly getting my sinuses flushed by gallons of seawater.

We sat on the beach for a while. It was an ANSI standard California beach: about a half mile long, sparsely covered by families trying to keep their kids from covering the towels in sand, young attractive people trying to be seen and not act like they are, sun nazis in their broad brimmed straw hats and fishbelly white skin, the one guy with the metal detector...

Then things started to happen. I noticed a pinniped working its way north about 20 feet out from the shore. A few minutes later a pair of dolphins started coming south, just a little farther out than where I had seen the seal. A few minutes after that, a small commotion formed farther south. I thought it was just people being excited about the dolphins, but they were forming a circle around something on the beach. Chris and I strolled towards the crowd.

Dead seal. As it rolled back and forth, tossed towards and away from the people, folks started to filter out of the crowd and back to their towels. By the time I had done the same, everyone on the beach was out of the water, and half the people had packed up and left the beach. I guess people don't like to be reminded of their mortality at the beach.

A Japanese family ran hand in hand towards the seal. At the same moment, all three saw it was dead. They turned in unison, and ran back up to their umbrella.