The view out my virtual office window this morning.

Courtesy of the wonderful people at VirtualRailfan, this is what I am looking at outside my “office window” this morning: fresh snowfall on the tracks in La Plata, Missouri. Almost a postcard view.

Hot Red Rock

The scenery was beautiful, and any other time of the year it would be an ideal place to take a scout troop camping.

In the summer, during a heat wave, temperatures in triple-digits, relative humidity 10%, and no shade beyond our canopies and tent flies is not ideal. The expression on my face was unintentional: five minutes in the sun was too much.

After this short recon, we decided to shift the campout to someplace with water.

We will camp at Red Rock eventually, but we will wait for a time of year when the list of available activities can extend beyond endurance and survival.

The Great Dune from Above

We hiked up the Outlook Trail to find ourselves perched on a rise between the canyon and the sea, looking down upon the big sand dune that hugs the hillside above Pacific Coast Highway at Thornhill Broome Beach.

I have climbed the dune often and have passed it more than a hundred times, but I have never seen it from this vantage. From here the dune is no longer dominant: you see it in context, a beach blown uphill at a point in the coast that is exposed to the prevailing northwesterly onshore wind. From here south Point Conception no longer blocks those winds, but only here does the rock face cup just enough to capture the sand and spray.

The view reminds me of my desire to study both geography and geology when I return to the classroom a few years hence. My travels and a lifetime studying politics and commerce have left me more curious than ever about the planet upon which we play out our temporal dramas.