Avila Dog Beach, California


avilaAvila Dog Beach

I’m pushing my two-year old daughter Zelia in a chain link swing at the pirate themed seaside park in Avila Beach.

She’s yelling “high-urr, fash-ter!”

I’m growling “Arrrrrr!”

Another couple sashaying their toddler in the adjacent swing asks me where I’m from. I say I live here.
“It must be nice to live in a place where other people go to vacation.” The dad says this without rancor, just a simple observation.

“Yes, yes it is.” I nod philosophically and my day is made.

I join my wife Marina. She is strolling our new puppy Willow and our two-month old baby Rui, the latter encased in our awesome Ergo, on the dog-friendly beach.
It is rolled up jeans and hooded sweatshirt type of weather, a crisp weekday morning and a blessedly empty beach with the perfect amount of mist. It grudgingly parts into sky blue ribbons and slate grey, sun-reflected ocean.

Seals bark and breach the water, boats rock to their own tidal rhythm and people roam and daydream with aplomb on the strip of cliffside trails or amble across the jutting pier with its tangled spidery legs.

Our puppy cavorts wildly atop the sandscape as it ripples alive with the high tide. She is unused to water and gets caught in the fast-moving froth, acting as if her paws have caught fire as she stilt walks comically to drier ground.

Everyone thinks we are crazy to have adopted a puppy the same timeframe we birthed our second infant girl. We agree but we wouldn’t have it any other way. There is something incredibly bonding when you’re at full emotional capacity. It makes you chisel out these rewarding kind of moments and appreciate them to the utmost glory.

We try to leave the house everyday and explore our beautiful public backyard, one of mountain, sea, highway or trail, all waiting to share its natural splendor with anyone willing to seek its treasure.

With a young family, world travel has been put on the backburner. This does not mean we are giving up our freedom behind shuttered windows and barred doors entrapping echoes of fernweh cries and full diapers.

I find inspirations in short naps, laughs and the interplay of ocean and light dancing like a kaleidoscopic looking glass. I used to find it in a passport, staring in glee at the myriad stamps while sighing morosely at the empty pages. I’ve moved on to other books for now.

An old white van is perched on the ridge overlooking the glittering expanse. In crudely duct-taped letters on the side of it is written “Dog Wash.” My eyes brighten as I leash my disheveled pup and go to investigate this strangely parked mobile business. I’m a little hesitant but decide paying a roadside groomer is likely better than alligator wrestling my dog with a cold garden hose at home.

I ask how much. Mexican music trumpets out tinny speakers and in a thick accent the man sitting comfortably in his cracked plastic chair outside the van jovially says, “Eight dollars!”


He hums and gently wrangles Willow into a big tub. He shampoos, conditions, massages and clips her toenails with deft skill and soft commands. She comes out sparkling and we head to our truck, sitting contentedly inside the open-air camper shell while my wife tops off the baby. We make the short trip home, already planning our next big local adventure.

About the Author:Joe Amaral is a paramedic who spends most his time spelunking around the California central coast. His poetry and short stories have appeared worldwide in many awesome literary journals and anthologies, both in print and online.

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