There's a lot to love about the West Marin coastline: it's gorgeous, great for surfing, and has more varieties of birds than you can shake a telephoto lens at.
But what happens when you're all set to sunbathe at the beach only to find that it's overcast, windy, and a hair above freezing?
I found myself in the same situation just last week, and rather than bemoan the fact that Muir Beach wasn't Waikiki (or after our teeth were chattering too much to bemoan effectively), my friends and I hunkered down and created a memorable experience for ourselves. Here's how to make the most of your cloudy beach day:
1. There's no such thing as bad weather...
...only bad clothing. Bring layers. And layers. And a few more layers on top of that. Wrapping yourself in towels and blankets only adds to the sense of adventure, especially if you and your friends/family look slightly ridiculous. Being prepared for the coldest that Mother Nature has to offer goes a long way to making the trip a happy memory instead of a traumatic one.
2. Food, glorious food.
The only thing worse than being cold is being cold and hungry. Go into survival mode by packing an assortment of delicious snacks, treats, and drinks. Sandwiches? Check. Bag of cookies? Double check. Thermos of hot, life-sustaining coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Check plus. Food = energy = you keeping your body heat up and not freezing to death. And it's delicious. So eat something, you're all skin and bones.
3. Capture the moment.
Cloudy days offer some of the greatest photo opportunities because you don't have to deal with the hassle of shadows. Set the white balance on your camera to cloudy (a picture of a cloud) and start walking the beach, bundled up in blankets, well-fed, and looking for adventure.
4. Fire good!
[Disclaimer: the only beach that I know you can have fires at is Muir Beach, and only in the designated fire rings. All other beaches follow a strict "fire bad" policy, just like Frankenstein's monster.]
Our cro-magnon ancestors had it right: fire good. In fact, fire very good. So bring a bundle of logs to a fire pit and bask in the loving glow of its warmth. Roast marshmallows, char processed meat on sticks, and be grateful for having a roof over your head whenever you want one.
It's very nice to spend a day at the beach relaxing under the summer sun, tanning and burning ourselves to our hearts' content. But ask yourself: how many different times can you actually remember spending a perfect day at the beach? If you're like me, all those cloudless, sunny days have started to blur together, and while pleasurable, adding one more to the mix isn't necessarily going to stand out in your memories.
But a day under the clouds, watching the cold waves lap at the shore while you sip hot chocolate around a fire you built, huddled with friends and family, wrapped in an assortment of blankets and towels-- now that's a day worth remembering for years to come.