CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. – Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway Saturday, it was easy to forget about the wildfires that had scorched the earth up and down the shore.
Surfers were lollygagging on the beach waiting for the next wave as diners poured into Las Olas for Mexican with a view.
But over fish tacos, conversation turned to flames, ample reminder of the natural disaster still wreaking havoc in the region. "His house barely made it," one diner said as a Cal Fire helicopter roared overhead.
Yet there seemed to be some relief. Come afternoon, raindrops plopped heavily upon the pavement. It was a light, but steady sprinkle along the Pacific.
In San Diego County, five fires still burned — the Witch, Harris, Poomacha, Rice and Horno/Ammo — but only the Poomacha and Harris were still at 50 percent containment or less.
Newspaper headlines lead with the fires, but this scenic vista north of San Diego seemed to be following its own California groove.
Regulars turned up for the Del Mar farmers' market where they stocked up on gourmet tamales and squash blossoms ready to be battered and fried.
Two girls wandered giggling into a Starbucks in Del Mar dressed in children's pajamas. It was, after all, the Saturday before Halloween.
In Encinitas, Hansen Surfboards customers tried on skater shoes and perused the Hawaiian wares. And in Carlsbad, the joggers seemed to keep pace with the traffic as the sun decided to seal a week of tragedy in the same blood orange brilliance as the fires that started it.