My Thotful Spot in Del Mar, CA
Aug 13, 2012Public
Photo: Winnie the Pooh has his Thotful Spot, and so do I. It's high atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Del Mar, CA. 

This was the first time I've ever taken a photograph at the spot. It was 1994; I stopped by while in California to attend my twentieth high school reunion - and to ponder the fact that high school was twenty years ago (then). I suppose I thought, "Where has the time gone?" Next year, 2014, will be *40* years.
"Where has the time gone?"
Photo: This photo was taken in 2002 with an early, low resolution digital camera. I assure you that the view is more spectacular than this photo suggests. It's an amazing spot - it seems like the entire Pacific Ocean is on display from here.
Photo: Where is this place? A red "X" on the lower left marks the spot. 

To get there you take the Del Mar Heights Road exit heading west off I-5 in Southern Del Mar, then follow it towards the ocean until it turns into 4th Street past Camino Del Mar (Del Mar's main drag). It dead ends. That's it! Park on the street.

Get out of your car and climb over the steel vehicle barrier, then walk left onto the slender dirt pathway.
Photo: I discovered this place in August 1972, when I was in high school. Dad and I used to take August trips to Del Mar every year (these are described here: http://wesclark.com/am/del_mar.html)

One of the people who owned a home (now gone) near this spot thoughtfully provided a stone bench upon which I used to sit, looking out over the ocean and considering what the future had in store for me. 

I have returned a number of times since 1972. Over the years consideration topics included high school and graduation, learning how to drive, an upcoming enlistment in the Marines, love, college, marriage, fatherhood, Civil War reenacting, college graduation, rugby and whatever else was on my mind at the time.

This photo is from August 2002.
Photo: The foliage varies somewhat from visit to visit, I notice, but the bougainvillea is a constant. August 2002 photo.
Photo: In 2002, when I took this photo, an annoying workplace manager was on my mind. He was my bosses' boss, and had just insulted me and called my competency into question on an e-mail which had several people cc'ed on it. I was quite annoyed - and even more irate that thoughts about him were intruding into my spot, so to speak.

After a tumultuous relationship with his boss, he left - hooray! He lasted less than a year, and today his name is more or less forgotten. He's a character in workplace "Remember that jerk?" discussions. I, however, remain.

His memory doesn't ruin this site's significance for me. In life you take the good with the bad.
Photo: In August 2002 I arranged for my good friend Mike McDaniel to meet me here; we had a nice long chat. I was attending training in San Diego, and this spot seemed like a good central meeting point.
Photo: One of the attractions of this site is the train; every now and then the Los Angeles to San Diego (or the other way around) Amtrak comes by. It prompts thoughts about journeys, and about how life itself is an episodic journey. All very metaphorical.
Photo: This is the house which used to be at the site - it was rather large. I really coveted that deck. I would want most of my meals there, I think. And, of course, the bougainvillea - which sort of represents Del Mar to me. 

The house was removed and replaced with two smaller homes - greatly maximizing somebody's profit, I imagine.
Photo: I returned on July 12, 2011. This time I brought my wife there for the very first time.
Photo: She agreed with me that it was a very nice site, but she doesn't have the association with the place that I do. No matter who ventures there, it's MY spot!
Photo: A shady place. Why has no one placed a bench there?

My most earnest contemplative occasion was in August 1974, when I knew that I would enter the Marine Corps after the summer was through. After years of reading about military life I was about to try it on for myself, and was anxious. (Enlisting was somewhat unusual in 1974, by the way. Most high schoolers had contempt for the military spawned by the anti-Vietnam War crowd.) I knew that this visit was a fork in the road: Childhood - Adulthood.

In 1975-1978, when I was stationed at nearby Camp Pendleton, I'd return here and remember my fears and reflect, "It's not as bad as I had thought it might be" - something I would observe again and again in life. The fears are almost always worse than the thing itself.

In 1978, a Marine sergeant nearing the end of my enlistment, I came here to wonder what was next... I had no real plans.
Photo: July 12, 2011. How could any home builder look over this site and decide to NOT to put a deck on the ocean-facing wall? Blows me away. If I had this home I'd build one on.
Photo: From a google image. I don't know for sure if my spot is private property - I think it's just beyond the property line of this home - but it seems to be a popular dog-walking trail with the locals. As long as I've been going there, people just sort of cheerfully consider it to be public property whether it is or not.
Photo: Is this a great place for me to retire someday? Well.. no. In addition to California being a Kiplinger "tax hell" state for for retirees (and everyone else, come to think of it), a screen grab from zillow.com on 8/13/12 confirms what I've always known: the real estate is pricey! 1-2 million... I can't really afford that. Maybe up the street... or one of the lesser homes...