Private-ish beach, somewhere in Silicon Valley

Work hard, play hard — a company beach day offsite

A few weeks ago, I was invited to fly out to the Bay area to join my company on an offsite ‘beach day’. It took place on a private beach in Half Moon Bay, which is on the western side of the hills that separate the beach from the bustle of the urban/suburban heartbeat of areas between Palo Alto and San Francisco. I work remotely for a startup company based in Redwood City, but I live in the very affordable (and very red) state of Oklahoma. Visiting my office for work is a privilege in and of itself — getting to visit for a “workation” is … inconceivable.

From my hotel room, I got a ride across the scenic road to the coast by a colleague and friend, in his drop-dead gorgeous red mustang convertible. We drove with the top down and even though there was a chill in the air and my ears may have been frozen to a slight crisp by the time we arrived, I had an amazing feeling deep in my core, like I was living large. I had one of those moments where you take a deep breath, feel your lungs fill with air, and in that moment, that’s all you really need to know everything is exactly as it should be.

The water is cold in this particular region of California, and even for my northeastern skin this day started out on the chilly side. There was heavy cloud cover until early afternoon. The views, the company, and the atmosphere (okay, maybe also the caipirinha) kept me feeling quite warm.

For me, resistance (to the ocean) is futile, and so I ended up going in up to my knees, with only my camera saving me from going further, even though hypothermia would probably set in, had I been any more daring.

This is a mostly private, sometimes public beach, largely untainted by humans. I live to explore places like this. It feels like there are so few of them left in the world.

The sky was dull and moody for most of the morning and into the early afternoon. Colleagues muttered a bit, but it was patterned enough to appreciate with a photographer’s eye, so I preferred it to what most people would consider a perfect beach day, with full warning sun blaring high in the sky.

(Side note — It’s true, you still burn when it’s cloudy. I know this, and yet it’s a lesson I have to keep re-learning like a derp.)

Some of us walked across the sand and over rich green algae. It felt like squishy cooked spinach beneath my feet, and it had serious potential of grossing me out if I let it simmer that way in my mind too long. I focused on being present in the moment, listening the ocean and feeling the carpet that was born and laid by the sea beneath my feet.

This is spirituality.

We walked down the beach and around a cove, across some slippery rocks through water that’s fairly shallow when the tide is out, and at the end arrived at a pair of caves. We only had a few minutes to spend, because the tide was coming in, so I admired the view, and snapped a few quick shots before we left.

I would have loved to explore more, and I think I would have dared to cross the water into the cave, given more time (and possibly a wet suit). It was a race against the clock, though, since the tide was coming in and we had to cross some water to get back. Maybe that was a good thing!

Thanks to another sweet colleague and friend, who is half as old and twice as intelligent as me, and who offered to carry my camera, I was able to get my shots and still become my increasingly uncoordinated, clumsy self on the return hike, without fear of breaking my gear.

I wonder if this is a common sight for people here who have grown up near the ocean. As I stopped to shoot it, I kind of felt like a silly tourist in NYC shooting a photo of a johnny pump, fire escape, or clothes line. Anyway, I thought it was neat. Nature is amazingly beautiful.

For many years before joining my company, I enjoyed freelancing and running a design & development agency with my husband. There were a lot of benefits (like ‘travel at will’) — but there were also a lot of drawbacks (like always worrying about where the next contract would come from).

When I received the offer to join my company, I worried about “all the things” I would be giving up. As it turns out, I didn’t actually lose much of anything, but I instead gained benefits I didn’t know or forgot could exist as an employee; not to mention I was able to take a “workation” on the beach, enjoying the company of…well, my company!