SM BEACH — It’s not that there isn’t a cloud in the sky — it’s just that no one seems to care.
A steady trickle of tourists heads for the Santa Monica Pier and the beach Wednesday morning, unperturbed by a cool breeze.
“She’s a little overweight,” says a man pushing his stroller down Ocean Avenue at Broadway as he and his companion eye their fellow beach-goers.
A woman on an orange beach cruiser rolls past. A man wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt hoists his worn-out backpack as he enters a public restroom. Joggers at varying degrees of sweaty, some shirtless, crisscross the paths.
Most people move at a jog or powerwalk pace — practically in violation of the 10 mph speed limit on the road that leads to the pier. The closest parking spots are filled up, but lots of room remains for visitors later in the day.
A man in a Yankees cap clutches his camera as he takes several steps backward, trying to fit all the sights into one shot. Pale and tanned bodies and colorful umbrellas dot the white sand and blue/green water of the beach.
“She’s all over the Facebook, reconnecting with old boyfriends from high school,” says a woman in khaki shorts as she and her friend pass a group of summer campers.
“Come on, come on,” yells a counselor sporting a neon yellow fanny pack. The children nearest her burst into indecipherable song.
“Stop it!” the voice of one child rises above the listing tune.
A young blond girl in yellow Crocs chases her beach ball. A man with binoculars gazes out across the water.
“Careful with that!” a woman says to her son. She holds a lit cigarette not 10 feet away from a no smoking sign.
The rides and games at Pacific Park don’t open until 11 a.m., which is still a few minutes away. An employee rearranges stuffed bear prizes at one booth.
A seagull lands on a railing. A lone pigeon hangs out in the foot-washing station. Shell fragments and bird poop decorate the wooden structure of the pier.
“Yeah, the bigger mirror!” A woman positions a straw hat on her head and admires it from all angles.
Singing to himself, a fisherman in plaid shorts spaces his poles evenly along the railing. A teenage girl applies coconut oil to her skin.
“I already look slightly Hispanic,” she says. She flashes a peace sign for a photo, then immediately drops her pink camera.
A wave overtakes a child digging alone in the sand. The shrieks of youngsters can be heard up and down the beach.
“Help me!” one says to her mother as she struggles to write letters in the sand. A happy face sketched nearby appears to have survived for at least a day or two.
A family hunts for shells, their eyes trained on the sand. A young woman sunbathes in what’s clearly a bra, not a bathing suit.
A woman in a red bikini watches as her male companion ventures out into the waves. She slowly follows.
A lifeguard walks backwards, tossing a life preserver into the air slightly.
“What time is it?” asks one woman.
“It’s time to leave!” answers her companion. He takes a few steps back, eyeing an approaching wave.
More summer campers are washing their feet near Perry’s Cafe.
“It’s super cold!” one comments.
A biker swerves to avoid a group of pedestrians on the bike path. A jogger looks both ways before hopping the barrier between the two paths. Screams from the pier rides can be heard across the sand.
A man on Rollerblades skates backwards in front of his biking kids, who squabble over who gets to be in front.
“You’re doing great!” a passing biker encourages the slowest one.
By noon, all the fog has burned off. Sightseers “ooh” and “ahh” as dolphins swim gracefully south along waves. The parking lot — not to mention the beach — looks more full now, but it seems there’s always room for more.