Posted by Jody on October 15, 2013
We just love returning to the beaches of Morro Bay, California. Nestled on the Pacific Ocean about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Morro Bay is home to one of the most fascinating coastal environments you’ll find anywhere.
Sea Star, Morro Bay, California (Photo by Jody Diehl)
Our family loves exploring the tide pools near “El Morro” (aka: Morro Rock). We’re never disappointed with the rich variety of marine life we find near the rocky breakwater.
Heading out to explore the tide pools in almost any weather is well worth the time and energy. You’ll be so glad you did. Keep your eyes open! You’ll have to look under and around rocks to spot the beautifully colored sea stars and sea anemones. Smaller crabs will scurry into the riprap, waving and drumming their pincers to warn you off. It’s a really cool sound (Don’t worry about embarrassing them, though – they never seem put off that you’re laughing at their bravado)! The larger crabs won’t pay you any mind at all. Years ago, Greg and I even came across a young seal resting on the sand. That was a real bonus!
The Crab Who Didn’t Care, Morro Bay, California (Photo by Jody Diehl)
On the way back toward town, check out the bay side water to see if you can catch a glimpse of the very entertaining otters.
If bird watching is your jive, the Morro Bay area is home to over 250 species of birds (including peregrine falcons), a fact that this quaint fishing village celebrates each year with the Winter Bird Festival weekend.
Beach and coastal activities are numerous in Morro Bay. If you check out the beach to the north of Morro Rock, you’ll inevitably find surfers, even if they’re just hanging out waiting for the next set of waves. This strand is also where a bounty of sand dollars can be found (be careful not to collect the live ones).
If you look to the south of Morro Rock toward the placid waters of the protected bay, you’ll see kayaks gliding amongst the moored sail boats.
Kayak in Morro Bay, California (©Jody Diehl)
It always seems to be a bit misty when we’re visiting Morro Bay, and mornings can be pretty nippy out on the water. You might want to wear layers and bring along rain gear, just in case. Your sturdy beach-trekkers will be perfect for climbing over the uneven rocks around the tide pools.
Where is your favorite tide pooling spot? We’d love to hear about it!
Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Northern California Beaches, Tide Pools | Tagged: beach, beachcombing, Morro Bay California, Northern California tide pools, sand dollars, sea stars | 8 Comments »
Posted by Jody on September 27, 2013
Along the Oregon Coast
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
Posted in Pacific Coast Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: beach, beach photography, Cannon Beach Oregon, Kahlil Gibran | 6 Comments »
Posted by Jody on August 19, 2013
A while back, Alaina and I visited family in Gardena, California. Of course, when we had some free time, we made a beeline for the beach! Redondo Beach is situated on the Santa Monica Bay, about 7 miles south of LAX. It was practically a straight shot from our hotel, so off we went to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf of the beautiful Southern California coast.
The City of Redondo Beach has a marvelous beachfront. Redondo County Beach has a friendly neighborhood feel to it that is quite refreshing. Joggers, friends walking and chatting, and parents pushing smiling babies in strollers were all out enjoying The Esplanade, which overlooks the beautiful, wide sandy beach and the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean beyond. Down below, people had the same happy demeanor on The Strand, the paved path along the sand. Everyone seemed quite cheerful. Maybe that’s because the beach was surprisingly uncrowded and parking was very easy to find. Perhaps it was the Southern California sunshine or gorgeous views of the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the south. Or maybe, like us, it was simply because they were at the beach!
Redondo Beach ~ View From the Esplanade
Beachcombing was our plan, and we were very pleased with our morning of shelling. This is what we found: Gould’s Wedge Shells (According to The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Shells: Donax gouldii, aka: Bean Clams)! But if I were to name these seashells I would call them “Sunset Shells”. Gould’s Wedge Shells are the all the colors of a beautiful Southern California sunset: gorgeous pinks, and blues, and purples, and oranges, and yellows. No doubt there were also California Donax, or Wedge Clams, in our mix. The California Donax seashells lack the colored rays and bands and are a little more elongated than the Gould’s Wedge Shell. And, just like sunsets, no two are the same.
Beach Treasures from the Sands of Redondo Beach, Southern California
Gould’s Wedges are little (5/8 – 7/8″) bivalves that are found in sand on surf-washed beaches from Monterey, California to Mexico’s southern Baja California peninsula. They live in the intertidal zone, where the sand stays wet, submerged just about an inch or so below the surface. Look for these small, colorful beauties as the waves pull back into the sea and the clams scramble to dig deeper into the sand.
Now that’s “One Shell of a Find!”
Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: beach, beachcombing, Donax gouldii, Gould's Wedge seashells, Los Angeles County beachcombing, Redondo Beach beachcombing, Redondo Beach California, Southern California seashells | 13 Comments »
Posted by Jody on August 17, 2013
McClures Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Northern California
Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.
Posted in Northern California Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: beach, beach photography, McClures Beach California, Point Reyes National Seashore, Saint Augustine | 3 Comments »
Posted by Jody on June 13, 2013
John Steinbeck Sculpture at Cannery Row >>> This way to the beach!
Plaza Entrance to the Beach at Cannery Row
Cannery Row’s Beach
Self Portrait at Cannery Row’s Beach – Looking across Monterey Bay
“The tide goes out imperceptibly. The boulders show and seem to rise up and the ocean recedes leaving little pools, leaving wet weed and moss and sponge, iridescence and brown and blue and China red.”
~ John Steinbeck, Cannery Row
Summer reading: I just finished reading Cannery Row (thoroughly enjoyed it) and have now moved on to John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley (loving it!). Steinbeck sure did know how to weave a captivating tale!
What’s on your summer beach reading list? I’d love to hear your recommendations!
City of Monterey, California
Cannery Row: Looking Back – John Steinbeck
National Steinbeck Center
Cannery Row in Monterey, California
Just one more thing: Flag Day USA is tomorrow, June 14th. ~ Fly em’ high! ~
Posted in Northern California Beaches, Tide Pools | Tagged: beach, Cannery Row, Flag Day, John Steinbeck, Monterey California beach, summer reading | 9 Comments »
Posted by Jody on June 3, 2013
Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz Surfers
Don’t Be Next!
Surfing in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Surfers
Into the Surf
“To Honor Surfing”
Surfer Memorial Beanch
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
“Warning – Cliff Edges Are Dangerous”
Santa Cruz Surfers
Surf’s Up! ~Early May in Santa Cruz on California’s Central Coast~
On our last day in Santa Cruz, Greg and I were thrilled to catch the surfers off of Cowell Beach. The water near the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum was teeming with wet-suited folks just waiting for the perfect wave. As we stood at the railing happily watching the action, I noticed more surfers quickly running toward the picturesque cliffs to enter the water. Not knowing if this was their usual routine, I wondered whether this was an especially good morning for surfing in Santa Cruz. You can see in the photo collage that we caught sight of one of the younger surfers jumping into the ocean from the unstable cliff edge. Most of the surfers just scrambled down the precarious bluff to the water’s edge to (safely?) enter the surf.
Wouldn’t the Beach Boys be proud? ♬Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world!♫
Surfing history in Santa Cruz, California:
“History records that surfboard riding first began in the Hawaiian Islands hundreds of years ago. It took until the late 1800′s and early 1900′s before it was introduced to the U.S. Mainland, mostly along the southern coast of California. Surfing became known in the Santa Cruz area when a few young men from the beaches of southern California migrated to the San Francisco Bay Area to seek jobs or to attend college. They already knew how to surf and brought their boards with them. Soon they discovered the beaches of Monterey Bay and the outstanding surf breaking across the outer reefs and sandbars at Cowell’s Beach.”
Source: Hal Goody, History of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club, Santa Cruz Public Libraries
Surfing Santa Cruz
Riders of the Sea Spray
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
Friction in Santa Cruz waters: Paddle boarders, surfers battle
Posted in Monday Miscellaneous, Northern California Beaches, Surfing Beach | Tagged: beach, California Central Coast, California surfing beach, Cowell Beach, Santa Cruz California Beach, Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, Surfer Memorial, surfing | 4 Comments »
Posted by Jody on May 28, 2013
Early May 2013 in Big Sur on the Northern California Coast
Greg and I found this delightful variety of springtime blossoms along the coast just a few miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. The sugar-white sand beach and turquoise blue Pacific Ocean combined to present a breathtaking backdrop for this colorful carpet of wildflowers. (CA-1/Cabrillo Hwy)
Historically, the name Big Sur was derived from that unexplored and unmapped wilderness area which lies along the coast south of Monterey. It was simply called el país grande del sur, the Big South Country. Today, Big Sur refers to that 90-mile stretch of rugged and awesomely beautiful coastline between Carmel to the north and San Simeon (Hearst Castle) to the south. Highway One winds along its length and is flanked on one side by the majestic Santa Lucia Mountains and on the other by the rocky Pacific Coast.
Source: Big Sur Guide
Big Sur maps and information: Big Sur Chamber of Commerce
Posted in Beach Flora, Northern California Beaches | Tagged: beach, Big Sur, CA-1, Cabrillo Hwy, California Central Coast, California coastal wildflowers, wildflowers | 21 Comments »
Posted by Jody on May 26, 2013
“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”
~ Maya Angelou
Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site, Oregon Coast
The Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site overlooks the mouth of Yaquina Bay and its entrance into the Pacific Ocean. The property was given to the state by the U. S. Lighthouse Service in 1934 and 1971. It is a spruce and pine forested bluff containing an historic lighthouse, later used as a lifeboat station. The lighthouse has been restored and is open to the public. The park originally was developed for day use in 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The old lighthouse at the harbor entrance was erected in 1871 but was discontinued in 1874 in favor of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse several miles to the north. The Yaquina River is named for the Indian tribe that traditionally occupied the drainage territory. The adjoining city of Newport is a busy fishing and commercial port, very popular with summer travelers. In 1988, a Yaquina Bay State Park cooperative association was created by agreement with the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Division. The group provides information for visitors and tours of the lighthouse.
Source: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
Posted in Lighthouses, Pacific Coast Beaches | Tagged: beach, Decoration Day, Maya Angelou, Memorial Day, Oregon Coast lighthouse, Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site | 7 Comments »
Posted by Jody on May 25, 2013
Lincoln City, Oregon
As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
~Henry David Thoreau
This week’s Travel Theme from Where’s My Backpack? is Pathways.
Posted in Pacific Coast Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: beach, Henry David Thoreau, Lincoln City Oregon, Oregon Coast beaches, pathways, Travel Theme | 18 Comments »
Posted by Jody on May 15, 2013
“Sea Lions Just Stopping By” the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
A view toward Cowell Beach,Santa Cruz, California
Sunset on the Wharf: The Santa Cruz Wharf also features restaurants, gift shops and boat rentals.
Looking Beneath the Wharf (Sea Lion on the Crossbeam)
Benches Line the Santa Cruz Wharf
A Quiet View
Sea Lion on the Crossbeams Beneath the Santa Cruz Wharf
The Santa Cruz Wharf
Rental Kayaks on the Santa Cruz Wharf
Basking in the Morning Sun
Cute Coastal Critters (Santa Cruz, California)
Lifeguard Headquarters, Santa Cruz Wharf
Santa Cruz Main Beach to the Santa Cruz Wharf
Sunset at the Santa Cruz Wharf
The Santa Cruz Wharf on California’s Central Coast ~A quiet midweek in early May~
At 2,745 feet in length, the wooden Santa Cruz Wharf is the longest pier on the West Coast of the USA.
Greg and I had the best time exploring the Santa Cruz Wharf. We could hear the California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) barking from the beach, but we didn’t spot the first set of these noisy critters until we got to the very end of the wharf. The next morning, there were quite a few sea lions out enjoying the sunshine on the deck alongside the wharf’s waterside stairs. They were quite active and very entertaining!
About the marine sanctuary aspect of the Santa Cruz Wharf:
“The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is a Federally protected marine area offshore of California’s central coast. Stretching from Marin to Cambria, the MBNMS encompasses a shoreline length of 276 miles and 6,094 square miles of ocean. Supporting one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems, it is home to numerous mammals, seabirds, fishes, invertebrates and plants in a remarkably productive coastal environment. The MBNMS was established for the purpose of resource protection, research, education, and public use of this national treasure. The MBNMS is part of a system of 13 National Marine Sanctuaries and one marine national monument, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”
Source: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
More helpful links~ The City of Santa Cruz: The Santa Cruz Wharf
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
Marine Protected Areas and the California Marine Life Protection Act
Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Northern California Beaches, Sea Lions and Seals | Tagged: beach, California Central Coast, California Sea Lions, Marine Protected Area, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, pier, Santa Cruz Wharf, Zalophus californianus | 6 Comments »