Pacific Ocean From Russian Ridge

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From Russian Ridge Open Space, high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one has an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean (on the rare days that it’s not covered in fog).

In this simple scene from Russian Ridge, California, the drama was all in my mind. I used to wonder how the Pacific, which means calm, got it’s name. As someone who moved from Florida to San Francisco, it’s hard to imagine why anyone considers this ocean calm. I’ve since learned that the Pacific Ocean got its name when Ferdinand Magellan passed through the Straits of Magellan in South America, where the Pacific is calmer than the Atlantic. But before that, I had a different hypothesis. Unlike the Atlantic in Florida, most of my chances to glimpse the Pacific come from mountaintops. From up here, you can’t make out the swells and breakers, the sea looks as tranquil as an alpine lake. I used to wonder if the Pacific Ocean got its name when early land-based explorers ascended these coastal mountains and got their first glimpse of the ocean, from up high. It’s the only place where I can see the Pacific as “calm.”

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