British Beach Day: West Kirby, UK

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I remember the first time I saw the Great Salt Lake in Utah, that grand stretch of desert and sort-of sea swept together and baked by the inescapable sun. The beach I visited in West Kirby, long after the water had rolled out for the morning, had that same illusive quality, more mirage than mer. Tiptoeing my way through temporary tidepools and rivers of mud, I felt breathless and alien, as though I were a stranger marooned on a strange planet that I couldn’t quite understand yet…

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We traveled via Merseyrail to Hoylake, just a stop away from West Kirby, and walked through the quicksand-like beach from there. The brief train ride reminded me of my journeys from Edinburgh to the seaside in North Berwick in 2013, and how much I relished that liminal moment when you cross that line between city and shoreside town.

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The chilling winds and low temperatures at the beach itself–even though the day was otherwise perfect, our first sunny English afternoon!–brought to mind my oceanside experiences in Maine and Alaska. (Thank goodness I didn’t have to worry about grizzly bears in West Kirby.)

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We even caught sight of a sparrowhawk, hovering just above what was presumably a doomed mouse or vole.

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Now my Kanken backpack can add England to the long list of places to which it’s accompanied me so far: including Cinque Terre, Florence, Kona and Volcano on the Big Island, the Berkshires, and D.C. To where will my little backpack and I travel next? Let’s hope it’s another rugged seaside somewhere…

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