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Escape To Pismo Beach, California

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

Pismo Beach in January

Pismo Beach in January

A Day at the Beach

Pismo Beach

What a beautiful day at Pismo Beach. The weather couldn’t be better for a January day and there seems to be some sort of a surfing competition going on. Cute surfers in their skin-tight black bodysuits everywhere. Tall ones, short ones, young ones, and younger ones — an old lady’s paradise.

Little kids chasing the waves out to sea and screaming when the waves chase them back again.

A dad showing a toddler how to build a sandcastle while the toddler sneaks a mouthful of sand.

Little comic sand plovers running up and down the wet sand bobbing their heads with each step searching for lunch and finding none.

People walking their dogs and a few dogs walking their people.

Joggers sprinkled here and there scattered happily among the throng. And studious young adults basking in the rays and roar of the waves.

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

— Confucius

Walking her dog

Walking her dog

Deep Thoughts

One lone cameraman with a monopod scans the panorama for the next Pulitzer Prize.

I love the sea. So much is going on about the surface. Simultaneous mysteries are going on under it.

A freeway of action without painted lines, police or practical barriers.

Only footprints and bird scratches in the sand to proof those that had gone before.

Despite the abundance of sand, not a cat in sight —not a cat-friendly world.

There is something very relaxing and calming about the ocean and the sounds it makes. I blue of the water below the blue of the sky and sweet soft breezes help too. It seems to caress like a dear friend giving a prolonged hug. We all need hugs.

It was here that I thought over many deep things about my life and my goals; about where I had been and where I was going. It was here that I could unwind and spend time away from technology; where I could just think and hear myself. We get so bogged down in the minutia of life we don’t allow ourselves to think or hear ourselves thinking. I took my journal with me and wrote down some of my impressions about the day and about the future.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

— Saint Augustine


Getting to travel has been a real joy for me. It didn’t happen that often. When it did I took as many pictures and wrote as many memories as I could. Unfortunately, many of those have been lost to time and divorce. When my computer crashed in 2012, I lost a whole host of digital photos that I can never get back because I stupidly had no backup at the time.

The truth is that other than visiting family who live less than an hour’s drive away, we hardly ever get to travel. Four years ago we visited my mother-in-law in Las Vegas (people actually live there and never gamble you know). We went to the funeral of a family member in Los Angeles about 10 years ago. And so describes the traveling we have done in the past decade. I would love to travel more but it simply isn’t in our budget. With the cost of housing ballooning ever higher, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

So when we got to go to the mountains or to the beach it was a real treat. Reading my notes and personal thoughts are like revisiting that day and that trip; almost like being there.

We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.

— Swami Vivekananda

My collage of beach people from a photo taken at Monterey California

My collage of beach people from a photo taken at Monterey California


Do you get to travel often? Where do you go to get away from city life? The beach? The mountains, or desert? Country camping? Visiting family? Visiting nature? Where do you find that place that recharges you for the rest of the year?

I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it.

— Rosalia de Castro

My collage of a girl in a boat

My collage of a girl in a boat

My Escape

I escape into my art. When the days are hot and unbearable, I paint snow scenes. When it’s cold a dreary outside, I like to paint spring flowers or nature scenes. I dive in and live in my images, engaging with colors and feelings. This is my great joy. Often I go out to places like the botanical gardens or a local park to get photo references to paint from in the future. When I’m visiting family I can get some nice photo references of the children playing for future drawings and illustrations.

Without the joy of my art, I would have no escape at all since we cannot go far from home most of the year. We are retired and have very little leftover in our budget to pay for gas and travel, so here we are parked. I know I'm not alone. I've met many retired folks in exactly my circumstances.

Art and painting, old photos and online photos and videos, have become my favorite escape from the mundane. I can visit Kenya or Korea, Ukraine or Uganda just by visiting someone’s personal or travel YouTube video. Recently Loren Toyota visited Italy and her videos were so inviting I almost felt like I got to see the sites and eat with her too.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

— T. S. Eliot

My collage tribute to the many fire fighters fighting the California fires last year.

My collage tribute to the many fire fighters fighting the California fires last year.

Final Thoughts

What do you do for escape? Do you travel and see the world? Do you couch serf like me through other people’s travel experiences? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.


Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 28, 2021:


I knew there were others like me out there. Thanks for commenting.



frogyfish from Central United States of America on March 07, 2020:

"I escape into my art." Your statement blew out of my computer and entered my mind! That fits exactly for me...

Glad it does for you too...enjoyed your article and paintings!

Thank you for sharing.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 12, 2019:

Devika Primic,

That is a great escape as well. I love walking and writing even though I'm not as good at it as I am at drawing or painting. Thanks for commenting.



Devika Primic on December 12, 2019:

Great escape indeed! One has to have a place to go to enjoy their time. You chose a lovely place.My escape is through writing and walking.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 10, 2019:


I'm so happy that you got something out of my ramblings. It's nice to know I'm not alone in the way I feel sometimes. Thanks for commenting.



elnavann from South Africa on October 10, 2019:

Hi. I loved reading your thoughts and the collages are beautiful. I am in that same group of suddenly over-60s and wistful of what is left behind. Still making memories

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 08, 2019:

Lora Hollings,

I'm so glad you like my memories of days at the beach. I'm glad I'm not the only one escaping into my creativity to "get away." Thanks for commenting.



Lora Hollings on October 07, 2019:

This is a beautifully written and illustrated article, Denise. I don't do much traveling either, especially now, as I don't like to leave my pets for a lengthy time and they are too old to go with us and since my daughter is no longer living close by, I don't have anyone that I can really depend on with their care. But like you, I do have a mental escape and that is either through writing or music. If we do go anywhere, it is usually to a little town close by that is located in the mountains and it is very quaint and has some good restaurants and wonderful little shops where many local artisans sell their work. It is quite close to where we live, so we are very fortunate. I'm the type of person that can just go to the park and have a good time there just watching the children and taking my dogs for a long walk in a nearby neighborhood and looking at the night sky. You are so right. The imagination, the ability to reflect on the places we've been, and the joyful experiences we've had in our lives is a wonderful way to experience them again. Your collages are just beautiful! I love the technique that you use in them. They are awesome. Thank you for sharing your wonderful days at the beach.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 07, 2019:

Dora Weithers,

I love the hills and mountains too. I guess escape is anywhere you find yourself. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 07, 2019:

Mary Norton,

It does me no good to moan about where I can't go when I can escape into my art any time I want. It is a struggle getting older, isn't it? Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 07, 2019:

Thank you, Eric. The beach is close to my heart also. I'm really blessed to live in a state where I can go from time to time. Thanks for commenting.



Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 07, 2019:

Thanks for sharing your escape. The details and the pictures lend to a satisfying mood. I love, love, love floating on the water and looking up, seeing nothing but the clouds and the sky. However, my favorite escape is staring at the nearby hills/mountains. Not sure how that would compare with traveling the world.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 07, 2019:

I love your collages. They are so well done, they inspire me so much. I do escape to the cottage once in a while. I wish I can go there on my own more often. Your escape to art is great. Indeed, you can travel everywhere.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 07, 2019:

"I have spent a lifetime escaping, yet I am always happy to return home"

A beach and waves have formed my life.

This piece is close to my heart, thank you.

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