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Carmel Magazine HO15

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I t's a brand new car : my first since I bought a Volkswagen Fox back in 1989. I pull into a parking space in my fancy machine, which is a bit nicer than I had back in the day: sleek exterior, slim rims and a heat- ed steering wheel. On the outside, it's looking good. But the inside resembles a beaten-down jalopy, as four wriggling, furry beasts fight to jump out the cracked open window, leaving dirt and hair all over the interior. Leashes tangled already, they wrap me like a bandit at the stake in an old Western as I step out of the car. Four Asian tourists are in the car next to me. Their faces are curi- ous. "Is that frantic looking woman ok?" they must wonder. My little dogs yelp and leap toward their window in excitement and the child in the backseat starts to cry. I gesture and smile, signifying, "They are nice…they don't bite." But then I notice my 13- year-old pug is wandering into the street, and I, bound at the shins, hold out my hand to oncoming traffic, screaming, "STOP!" Exasperated before we begin, we embark on a simple walk upon some of the most complicated, gorgeous coastline in the world. I'm already contemplating going back home. But we stay. And it is stunning. There is no price of admis- sion. It erases the anxiety that walking four dogs induces. Footsteps are sprinkled like salt and pepper over the unsta- ble earth along the ocean-side road that leads to Bird Rock. Cloven, five-toed and four clawed, everything has walked here. It's been right here forever, thousands upon thousands of years existing in its sandy splendor ; paths carved through the dense ice-plants by the adventurous; the smell of birth and death and everything in between permeating the air. Despite the decay, it draws anything with a beating heart toward it. The shining sun does little to warm the air and the wind does much to ampli- fy the sounds of the inhabitants: seals, sea lions, otters, whales, a nd oh, those ubiquitous seagulls. Been here forever, and prac- tically unseen by me, until now. Now. Twenty-five years after liv- ing here, I finally take advantage of its beauty because I like to w alk my dogs every day. But this stroll makes me think about avoidance and taking things for granted. How it seems that things we treasure will always be there. The dogs love to prance around here and so do I. The sec- ond we hit the bottom of the foot trail, leashes are removed and freedom reigns. The smallest one, Coco, smells everything: seaweed, dead birds, and food wrappers. The eldest, Chica, her sight and hearing withering away, strolls calmly, never as much as flinching when the water comes up to her stiff shoulders. Little Winnie and Tango, our nervous newbies, take to the sand and the water like those big dogs we see on television. Me? I am peacefully taking it all in. The sand is damp, but I sit down in my sweatpants and chronicle how the surf beats onto the shore and how the sea lions are so much bigger and louder than the seals. Inevitably, some old memory will arise while I watch the ocean water. Then the water rises in my eyes and I decide it's time to continue our walk toward Bird Rock. Bird Rock is exactly what it sounds like; a monolith covered in every sea bird that flies and smothered with seals and sea lions. It stinks to high heaven. It is awe-inspiring. Busses line up here, depositing tourists like quarters in a slot machine. At this spot, the world comes together and worships nature. The Irish, Indians, Chinese, Croatians. The Americans ooh-ing and ah-ing their beloved country. I maneuver my little four-legged family through a frenzy of selfie-sticks and smiling faces. Visitors pet the dogs and ask, "Do you live here?" "I do. Would you like me to take that photo for you?" I ask. "Nah…No thanks…Nye, nye…" they reply, all preferring that extended-arm view of their own blissful faces and beautiful background. Me? I look down at my pups, and then peer at the horizon, knowing that I am a three-minute drive from home, a thread in this fabric, and I will never take it for granted again. Dina Eastwood is a former news anchor at KSBW TV, past host of "Candid Camera" and has starred on a reality show on the E! Network. She is a writer, editor and yogini. She resides on the Monterey Peninsula with her daughter, Morgan. BEHIND THE SPOTLIGHT D I N A E A S T W O O D e d s t e e r i n g w h e e l O n t h I look down at my pups, and then peer at the horizon, knowing that I am a three-minute drive from home, a thread in this fabric, and I will never take it for granted again. Seeing Home for the First Time 44 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • H O L I D A Y 2 0 1 5

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