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La Jolla and Lake Forest, CA

The sun is back! It's a cool breezy morning, with a beautiful blue day ahead of me. La Jolla is a short drive from San Diego. As I leave the city, I return to green hills; some are covered with yellow flowers, adding another color to my palette. I set Google Maps to take me to La Jolla Cove.

What a delightful place! I feel like I'm back in nature. The rocky coastline here provides a home for so many animals: seals, sea lions, pelicans, cormorants, and much more. A big smile takes over my face. A simple, pure joy engulfed me just for being present in this beauty. Watching the sea lions play between the waves, some take their naps, warming their body in the comfort of the sun's rays. The waves crash into the rocks, creating a white foam and stunning contrast to the dark rocks.

Five pelicans are flying just above the waves, hugging the ocean with their big wings; hold on, the sixth one is catching up to his group. What a beautiful site. This is incredible! I am mesmerized. It is a picture that will stay in my memory. I don't want to take my eyes off to try and take a picture. I don't know what it is about these ugly birds, but I like everything about them.

An older guy is exploring this view with his binoculars, which reminds me that I also have a pair if I can find where I put them. I am pretty organized with my car setup, so after a quick search, I found my binoculars! I feel like a little child that got a new toy. The binoculars open a new world to me. I can see the pelicans so close that I am changing my mind about this bird. Instead, I have a new appreciation for this bird and its beauty. When you look closely, you can see the bright color of red and orange under their neck.

I let the joy in my heart be present and fabulous. Feeling so alive and joyful early in the morning is a gift. Growing up with so much superstition created forbidding joy. No more! Life is good, period. I am finally creating and giving myself what we all deserve. And if a hard time comes, I will have those moments of joy to cushion it.

By early evening I get to Nikki and Barb's house at Lake Forest. I need time to regroup and catch up on many little loose ends that everyday life gives us. I am looking forward to spending time with both of them. This part of my journey is becoming my favorite of all. With all the tremendous joy I get from nature, the pleasure of creating new friendships soar above it. Yes, I meet quite a lot of people as I travel. However, not all friendships will last; the separation of me moving around the country is for sure a challenge. I know my friendship with Nikki and Barb will stand that test.

Those two are spoiling me, and I might not want to leave! It is so helpful when I can explore an area with a local private tour guide. I have a chance to enjoy a drive through Trabuco Canyon on our way to dinner. We visit Crystal Cove, State Park, for a walk on the beach. At Dana Point, we go for a whale-watching adventure. What a great beauty it is to look at the California coastline from the ocean. We are lucky to spot the weird-looking Mola mola (Mola mola is one of the largest bony fish in the world). A playful pod of dolphins welcomes us as they swim in front of the boat. What a treat to see them so close.

It's time to get back on the road. I plan to hug the California coast as much as the road will let me. Unfortunately, there are a few road closures due to the rough winter California experienced, so I will need to be flexible. My next stop is Manhattan Beach, where I will spend time with Virginia and join her hiking group for a local hike. If you followed my story from the beginning, you might remember the group of women I met in October when I visited Smoky Mountain, National Park. It is the same group where I met Betty, who joined me in exploring Zion NP last month.

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