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San Elijo Pit Stop - Travels Near & Far
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San Elijo Pit Stop


I park on Manchester Avenue, cut through a small stand of trees, then connect to the San Elijo Lagoon loop trail. Very shortly thereafter, a dampening begins. The cacophony emanating from of one of the more popular locales in southern California begins to fade as I step further from its sources and deeper into this 1,000 acre ecological reserve. 

I’m a mere 300 yards from one of America’s most traveled highways - Interstate 5 - and 800 yards in the other direction is the world famous Pacific Coast highway.  At every possible spot around the boundary of this reserve is a million dollar home with an amazing combined view of both the lagoon and the Pacific Ocean.  Yet amid all of this popularity, I’m nearly alone on the trail this morning.  And it’s a welcomed break.  Airports, taxis, buses, crowded beaches and noisy restaurants have filled the past two days… and starting tomorrow for the next four, I’ll be in downtown San Diego for a convention with 2,000 attendees.  A short break on a quiet trail is a great pit stop on this six day trip. 

With the dampening comes an awakening; my frazzled mind turns from schedules, artificialities, and multi-tasking to a quieted, singularly-focused state, alert now for what nature has in store on this loop.  I step quietly and keep my eyes and ears open for experiences that you just don’t get on while traveling much faster on Manchester Avenue, I-5, or the Pacific Coast highway. 

This lagoon is a stronghold; a watershed of vibrant beauty that serves as a buffer against the swelling populations all around.  Somewhere in the past, someone stood up for this place and realized its native value.  A conservation organization now has authority to make sure this lagoon stays pristine as the development pressures increase. 

I consider myself a reasonable conservationist.  As populations grow, development pressures are a natural side effect.  Frankly, man needing a place to live and work is as natural as mallards needing a lagoon to land in.  Balance, though, is the key, and the San Elijo Lagoon is a prime example of how that can work - man and nature standing side-by-side with clear and protected boundaries between them. 

San Elijo preserves the space needed for nature to be nature.  But its secondary benefit comes by way of enticement.  Its easy access reminds us all to pull over now and then, step through the trees and appreciate - even if for just a few brief moments - that the natural world not only dampens the raucous in our lives but pit-stops the focus on multi-tasking, artificial possessions, and the crowded spaces that are the consequences of our swelling population.  

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: Cardiff by the Sea, California

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