I have always been attracted to water throughout my life, and have returned to it over and over.
In the past 16 years living in the bay area, I often wake “restless” in bed, and begin browsing properties next to the ocean…
My dream was to not only live in the best city of our country (and possibly the world)…but also to be next to the ocean and only minutes away from the city.
My quest has taken me up and down the Pacific coast from the marina…to Sea Cliff…to Point Lobos…Ocean beach…
One day laying in bed I happened across a property overlooking the Pacific ocean in the quaint little town of Pacifica just minutes out of San Francisco.
I decided to go to the open house that day. Stepping into the doorway of the house, was a breathtaking view of the Pacific ocean. It was too good to be true.
I decided to venture around the neighborhood and see what the town was like. My trek started at Beach Boulevard, then down to a set-in golf course called Sharp Park, and eventually over to the other side of Mori Point where a group of restaurants sat next to the ocean.
I was looking for a nice place to sit and enjoy the ocean over a glass of wine, and I was drawn to the right side building bearing a placard of The Moonraker. I climbed the stairs and entered to hear the pleasant melody coming from the piano man playing to the locals enjoying their happy hour. Sitting at the common table, I quickly struck up a conversation with a friendly couple across from me. They were long time Pacifica residents and told me that locals don’t brag about Pacifica as they don’t want the crowds and fancy people to move in and ruin the peaceful idyllic town.
When I asked if it was true that there was a lot of fog …they said “that was the secret”…they wouldn’t dispel the rumors to inquisitive city folk. The fog in the summer settles on the water a couple hundred feet out from shore, but if you were down in the lower part of town, the ocean was still visible. The fog burns off by late morning to reveal a picture perfect town with long walking beaches, fisherman perched on piers, and gentle swells of the ocean often breached by whales as they travel down the coast on their journey.
I fell in love with the town of Pacific that day, and had nagging thoughts of whether I should pursue the house, but of course life got busy and time went forward. Off and on, I have returned to meet new friends and share a glass of wine sitting at the Moonraker’s booths. I reminisce about almost buying a property overlooking the coast. Recently I woke and did my usual “middle of the night” routine browsing properties…and Oh wow!…a property similar to the one I had seen years before was for sale.
Curiosity caused me to check it out. Walking in the door, I had the same familiar feeling tingling over me….it felt like fate pulling me in….should I consider moving here again?
Last weekend, in my new home, I slept-in to the rhythm of the breaching waves, and watched birds diving in and out of the water. I took a leisurely walk down the shore, absorbing the fresh ocean air, and captured a few perfect photos of the ocean accented by blue sky with white clouds traveling upwards like a giant pinwheel. I passed a few other locals who were out for their morning walk and I knew that destiny had brought me to the right place. I have finally returned back to the water…..again.
Noah won first place in the adult category for the 2019 Fog Fest essay contest with the theme of ‘Discover Pacifica’. Photos provided by Noah. Learn more about Fog Fest Annual Essay contest here.
Nate had just finished unpacking all his things and was enjoying the view of Pacifica through the window. Nate left San Francisco, to get away from city life. He needed to move somewhere a little more… peaceful. That was not the only reason Nate had moved to Pacifica. She was the reason. He had met her months before, on his way to work. He had to take a detour, and as he was driving, he saw her. He knew her home was in Pacifica, but he was still worried that work would get in the way, so he switched to an office in Pacifica. Slowly, a thick layer of fog clouded his window. He wondered if it was a sign that he was letting love cloud his vision of the real world.
Nate woke up the next day with a horrible ache in his back from picking up boxes. He made a cup of coffee, sat down at his dining table. He thought about turning on the television but decided to look outside. The plants in his backyard showed vibrant colors, and the dew on them glistened. It was still foggy out, but it was beautiful. Finally, a while later, he was ready for work. He got in his car, and began driving to his office. On the way, he saw her again. Entranced by her beauty, he began to wonder if he would get to meet her again. He passed by Rockaway Beach, admiring the cliffs next to it, and the beauty of the water crashing against them. He drove over the large hill overlooking Linda Mar, and noticed all the surfers at the beach on their surfboards. He looked up, and saw a thick sheet of fog, like a white blanket wrapped around the mountains. It was alluring . It was like a rainy day, without the rain. Finally, he arrived at his work near the Linda Mar Beach. At work, it was all he could think about. Every time he talked with a client, all he could focus on was the clock, waiting for the time when they could be together.
At the end of a long day, Nate wearily left for home. The Pacifica skyline of restaurants and small buildings made the air glow around Manor Plaza. As he arrived home, he realized he would have no time to visit her tonight. He never had enough time to see her. All he ever got were short glimpses, imagining what could be, hoping that maybe he could have a chance. But work always got in the way. Life always got in the way. Finally, at 11 p.m., he went to bed, thoughts racing through his mind. I already missed my first chance to see her since I moved here. That could have been my only chance to see her, and I blew it. I let my work get in the way. Again…
The same thing happened every day, for a whole week. That Friday, Nate sat on a bar stool in a taproom near Linda Mar Beach. He was talking to somebody he did not even know, somebody he had never met in his entire life, yet he felt comfortable sharing his feelings about work, and how badly he missed his love. He talked with the man as if they had known each other their whole lives. That’s how it was in Pacifica; everybody treated each other like friends. You always felt safe.“You gotta ignore the work if you wanna be with her,” the man said. That’s all anybody said when Nate asked around. Ignore the work, focus on seeing her again. But it was not that simple, at least not to Nate. He had to choose between pursuing the love of his life or pursuing his work. The work that he was so used to. This work that allowed him to feel safe, and chasing her seemed like too much of a risk to him. He lay in his bed that night, restless. He could not stop thinking about it. He wanted so badly to see her again, to be close to her again, even if for a short while. It weighed heavy on him for weeks to come, until finally, he made his decision.
The next Friday, Nate had a lot of work in the office, but he missed her. He longed to see her. He got up and put on his suit. It felt wrong, but right at the same time. As he drove away from his house, his confidence grew. He looked at the fog, the rocks, and the mountains. They were all so strong, withstanding the attack of the ocean waves day after day. He felt stronger, too. He knew he was making the right decision. Finally, Nate stopped his car at Linda Mar Beach. He checked the time: 7:00 a.m., then checked his charts. He opened the trunk of his car and got his bag out. He admired the people having fun on the beach, playing catch, swimming, and surfing. Surfing. He opened his bag, and there it was. His surfboard. He gently lifted it out of the bag, running his hand along the side. He could feel the scratchy, used paint job. The board was dusty, reminding him just how long it had been since he had used the board, since he had felt truly free. He double-checked his wetsuit, his heart pounding with excitement. He began to walk toward the shoreline, feeling the silky sand sift through his toes, then the soft scratch of pieces of bark in the sand. Finally, he reached her. He began to run towards the water, then he threw his board into the water, jumped onto it, and began to paddle. He was with her at last, he felt one with her. He got up and breathed in the fresh air. He felt truly free, being with the one he loved most; the Pacific Ocean. The love of his life.
Ethan Ish won 1st place in the under 18 category for the 2019 Fog Fest Essay Contest with the theme of ‘Discover Pacifica’. Learn more about Fog Fest Annual Essay contest here.
In a nest far from Pacifica there was a family of cardinals. The mother and the father had built a nest in late September. The mother then laid her eggs in the nest. There were two eggs in total. During December and January the parents took turns on keeping the eggs warm. Then one day, there was a third egg that wasn’t the same as the other eggs. In the early spring an egg began to shake. Then the next day the egg hatched and the parents named the chick Niko. Then a couple days later the second egg hatched, the parents named him Bud. Then there was the third egg. The third egg didn’t hatch and the parents got depressed. Then in late spring there was a wiggle. The day after there was another wiggle. Then on the sunny, third day, the egg hatched and the parents named her Sunny.
Sunny was a very strange chick compared to others. Niko was big and strong, he hung out with the bigger birds. Bud was smart and had many friends who would play with him. Sunny was a brownish white unlike the red of a cardinal. Sunny didn’t have any friends. She was a lot bigger but weaker than anyone else. She loved to learn and talk about things. She loved to explore the unknown and the mysterious. She wondered what was beyond the forest. Instead of playing Sunny would stay with her parents a lot.
Sunny’s parents told her about the darkest part of the forest. This part of the forest was uncharted and scary. No animal or bird would dare go there. Even though her parents told her all the scary stories, Sunny decided to go anyways. She traveled alone at night so she could be home by morning. Unfortunately it was a stormy night. Around her she could hear thunder and occasionally she saw lightning. Then she got tired of flying and flew into a little hole in the tree. She waited a while and then the thunder kept getting louder. Then from outside the hole lightning struck a tree in front of her.
All of the sudden her heart began to race. She began to breathe heavily, so many thoughts ran through her mind all at once. Some thoughts were nice and happy and others were dark and scary. Fire began to burn the forest. Sunny flew out of the hole and straight home. By the morning everything was on fire. All the homes were burned down. Every started coming up with ideas on how to fix it Sunny came up with the idea that they all move. No one agreed and the birds said it was stupid so they stayed and tryed to rebuild what was burned.
Meanwhile Sunny flew off in anger, she flew high in the sky. She flew past a river and over a mountain. She flew in a valley for days. Then one day she was wondering, Is there another place besides home? Then the next day she flew over a mountain and into a valley. This valley had houses made by people. She was amazed at what she saw. The sun was a beautiful gold on the bright green leaves and her now white feathers. She then saw the ocean. She got closer and saw other birds that looked like Sunny. The other birds were seagulls. Sunny loved the smell of the beach. Then a huge humpback whale leapt out of the water. She saw the other birds talk to the whale so Sunny went as well. The whale noticed that she was different and asked her what her name was. Sunny replied with her name. Sunny then asked the whale what his name was? The whale replied with Oliver. Oliver told Sunny to dive in the water, Sunny dove into the water and she could see clearly.
Sunny was amazed at what she could see. She saw plenty of fish and sea animals. She swam a little bit and saw sea otters playing with their children. She also saw how nice and friendly the animals were. She saw sea lions playing in the water. Most of them were asleep on the pier, and yelling at each other. Giant sail boats going around the bay. Sunny made friends with a baby otter. Sunny took another dive and saw a huge kelp forest. She witnessed an explosion of life and colors. Oliver was close as well.
Then she now went to the land and saw all the lovely people dressed in their shorts and bathing suits. She also met tons of dogs of all breeds. Then she saw a person sitting on rock at the far side of the beach. The person looked sad so Sunny went over to the person. Sunny knew the person wouldn’t understand what she was saying but Sunny asked the person why they were sad. Sunny was confused, she thought, “How could anyone be sad in such a happy place?”
Sunny kept on exploring, she saw so many happy people with happy faces. She then remembered her family and how they were happy, so she then went past the valley and into the mountains. All the way back to her family. She told them about this amazing place and every thing she saw. They all followed and then they were all surprised on what Sunny had found. Sunny said, “Even if you are different you can still make a difference”. They met many new friends and lived in Pacifica. For generations the family would live in Pacifica as happy as ever. This is the beauty of Pacifica. Sunny truly discovered Pacifica.
Alexander Perea won runner up in under 18 category for the 2019 Fog Fest Essay Contest with theme of ‘Discover Pacifica’. Learn more about Fog Fest Annual Essay contest here.
I have been fortunate enough to “discover” Pacifica multiple times. What I discovered was a place I could call home, and that I always want to be at.
First, as a teenager in 1991, or so, my family moved here. I was a graduating senior and I discovered all the adventure waiting for me. I walked the beaches, the pier, and the hills, and with each step, discovered Pacifica was beautiful, full of nice people, and richly diverse, but it didn’t feel like home.
Then, I left for college. I came home, briefly, after college, but Pacifica was mostly a bedroom. When I truly moved back to Pacifica it was as a young mom, with my two kids in tow. This was when I really discovered Pacifica.
I enrolled my kids at the preschool in the community center and met many young families. We had things in common, including a love for Pacifica as a safe place to raise our kids. I convinced my mother and brother to move here (although it may have been the grandkids). All along, I was falling in love with this town. But it still wasn’t home.
As my kids grew, so did my love for this town. My kids, and by default, me, were involved in so many things. First, they enjoyed the great libraries. Then, they attended Ocean Shore K-8 and were involved in a dizzying amount of activities. Spindrift, PSL swim team, Challenger soccer camps, robotics, girl scouts—it never ended. One was consistent, and they wore their uniforms with pride—Pacifica Tigersharks. Everytime they wore their uniforms they proudly told people they were from Pacifica. I got to know many Pacificans, and all I can tell you is they’re great. But it didn’t feel like my home, just the kids.
On July 15, 2015, tragedy befell me. On my way home from work, I had a massive hemorrhagic stroke. Thanks to some quick thinking by my husband, I survived. I went from running everywhere to being stuck in a wheelchair. I was bitter, to boot. But Pacifica stepped up in a big way. My family never had to worry about food or rent. My kids got to school. Neighbors pitched in to help a Pacifican who needed help.
For 5 months, I was in the hospital working hard to get back to the community I loved. Everyday, I found myself missing Pacifica more and more. These were my friends, family, neighbors and fellow citizens. When I first got back, I found it hard to find my groove. I still find it hard, truth be told. With its hills and beaches, Pacifica is not exactly equipped to welcome wheelchairs (but they are getting better). But what I found was my neighbors, my friends, my family, and ordinary Pacificans willing to help. I found an embracing community. I found that Pacifica is more than just a unique set of places to visit that make it a really cool town. Pacifica is special because the people in it are special.
I found home.
Heather Tanner won runner up for the 2019 essay contest with theme of ‘Discover Pacifica’. Learn more about Fog Fest Annual Essay contest here.
Erik Piro from Pacifica won second place in the first annual Essay Contest 2018.
Fog…it’s a mysterious phenomenon of nature. Sometimes it rolls into Pacifica quickly, while at other times it slowly creeps in from afar. It hugs our coastal shores, hangs in the valleys, and other times lingers around for a few more minutes than anticipated. It’s a friend to some people and a foe to others. However, one thing that fog is to everyone is a cause for celebration every September during the Pacific Coast Fog Fest!
People are amazed at how fog is celebrated during Fog Fest each year. During its weekend celebration, fog becomes a living form that binds Pacifica together in a number of ways that are unique to Pacifica.
Fog Fest celebrates life in Pacifica. During the Fog Fest, residents as well as local businesses celebrate life together with a wide variety of local music, food and beverage, arts and crafts and activities. A true sense of community is displayed during the whimsical Fog Fest Parade where the fog calls on its friend, the mermaid, to lead the lively procession. Fog inspires the famous Fog Cutter drink that is enjoyed by festival goers and winds its way into arts and crafts available for purchase. It encourages families to have fun together during the Family Fun Fest where a variety of games and activities encourage everyone to play.
Fog Fest connects people, even just for one weekend. Fog Fest is that special time of year when a large majority of the town comes out to enjoy the festivities. Even visitors from out of town and from across the U.S. make the journey to Pacifica, often in curiosity of just how fog is celebrated. It’s a weekend of fun with family, friends, neighbors, and those that you might not have seen for many years, providing a chance to catch up with life. Some people shop, others eat and drink, some dance to the live music, and others play at the Family Fun Fest. No matter what people do, everyone has a good time together as a community.
Finally, Fog Fest inspires creativity. Whether it is a colorful float in the parade or one of the hundreds of arts and crafts booths, creativity shines at the Fog Fest. Festival goers truly are treated to a sight and sound spectacle. From the moment festival goers enter the festival zone, live music fills the air. Local musicians of all musical genres get the crowds dancing with some of their favorite songs. Yes, dancing in the street really does happen in Pacifica! Continuing to walk past the multiple stages of music, local and national artists display custom made and one of a kind gifts, including custom photography, jewelry, fashion apparel, glass, sculptures, and much more. Some of these artistic gifts are inspired by the fog while others beckon the sun or the beautiful California coastline. The Fog Fest is the perfect place to treat yourself to something special or start your holiday shopping a bit early. Of course, one can’t forget to make a stop at the giant sand sculpture to gaze in awe at the sandy masterpiece or the photo contest exhibit that showcases amazing photos that capture the essence of life in Pacifica. No matter where you turn at Fog Fest, there is always something that will capture your eyes and perk up your ears.
So, just like the fog that comes and goes into town, another Fog Fest will soon vanish. However, the good times and celebrations of this unique festival will be remembered and will be something to look forward to again next year. Happy Fog Fest, Pacifica!
Kimberly Schultz lives in Fairmont, she won the $100 prize for best essay, in the first annual Fog Fest Essay Contest 2018.
“You want me to what?” I asked my daughter’s dance teacher.
“I want you and your daughter to walk in the parade at the FogFest,” she responded nonchalantly.
Now don’t get me wrong! I love a parade… from the sidelines, though!
“Ohhh-kaaaa,” I hesitantly agreed. And boy, was I in for an adventure!
Every year since we started dating and right up until welcoming our two daughters, my husband and I have joined in on the celebration of Pacifica taking in every aspect of the FogFest – except the Discover Pacifica Parade. We had nothing against the parade, we just chose to begin our venture in early afternoon where we have always gathered the family and sauntered down Palmetto Avenue. Our noses always lead the way to some truly unique food. We always sample a smorgasbord of flavors, knowing that our purchases support great local community groups! We become one with the sea of people, leisurely peeking our heads under every white canopy that line both sides of Palmetto Avenue. Every cubicle promises a unique treasure. We finger the handmade crafts from local artists, take in the glorious sights of one-of-a-kind sculptures, and spoil ourselves with unique gifts.
That year, five years ago, when my daughter and I were asked to join the Discover Pacifica Parade, what a wonderful new world it opened for my family. On that opening day, we anxiously arrived very early and waited in our parade order at the far end of Brighton Road. I watched as the Girl Scouts adorned in brown and blue vests eagerly hopped around; the Vallemar Cabrillo Band blew their horns and pounded their drums in hopes to be heard; their vibrations echoing throughout the streets; preschools dotted with clever vehicles to get their wee little ones safely down Palmetto Avenue; the 4H Club reassuring their frightened animals. “Wow!” I thought.
Wow was an understatement when the parade actually began and I watched as my timid daughter proudly bounced down the busy street in support of her dance school. In the rows of smiling, cheering onlookers that waved us through, I recognized friends, neighbors, and even the checkout cashier at our local grocery store.
I never felt so proud to be a part of something so meaningful. Our little Fog Fest parade had a purpose and I truly realized that this parade gave tribute to all the hardworking people and businesses from our tight-knit community. It was in those moments that I saw the pride my daughter took in dancing with her friends in one of our local thriving dance schools. I’m certain those moments were what all marchers in this festive parade felt.
From then on, my daughters and I have joined in on this grand showcase of talent. I have marched with both my girls with the Girl Scouts, Vallemar Cabrillo School Band, and with my youngest daughter’s dance school. Somewhere along the way I graduated from a devoted marcher to spectator. My husband and I now watch our two daughters, who are Pacificans born and raised, proudly march in the parade in support of our little community. Their contributions to our community is honored through this spectacular parade.