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Archive for the ‘Northern California Beaches’ Category

♬ Above the Blue and Windy Sea 🎶

Posted by Jody on August 26, 2014

“There’s a beach in San Francisco?” We get that a lot! In fact, it’s only a very short jaunt from Fisherman’s Wharf to this popular stretch of sand! Simply head east on Jefferson Street, and you’ll find Aquatic Park Historic Cove and the exceptional city-side Aquatic Park beach.

This entire area is part of the National Park Service’s San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Lots of  words…even more fun!

Here you can bike, run, swim, paddle board, play in the sand, or just watch the world go by:

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The next time you’re in the City by the Bay, you can use this handy National Park Service site to help plan your visit to San Francisco’s Aquatic Park Cove beach: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. And you’ll, too, be singing ~ “I Left My Heart in San Francisco. High on a hill, it calls to me…”

🎶 “My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me”♬

 “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” by George Cory and Douglass Cross

~~~

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Posted in Northern California Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

By the Wind Sailor

Posted by Jody on August 23, 2014

Greg and I recently returned from another fantastic visit to the Bay Area (and points north).

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach

While strolling Stinson Beach one perfect July afternoon, we happened upon a large number jelly-like oval-shaped creatures washed up on the sand. :-( They were the most striking deep blue in color. I recognized them right away, even though I had never seen one of these strange little life forms in person before.

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

Their distinctive “sail” was the give-away!

By the Wind Sailor

By the Wind Sailor

By the Wind Sailor

By the Wind Sailor

Nobody (except the scavenging gulls) seemed to pay them any mind at all. Harmless to humans, these amazing marine organisms are called “by the wind sailors” (Velella velella ). They live on the surface of the ocean and can be found on both the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast of the United States. By the wind sailors are commonly seen scattered about the sands of Stinson Beach during the late spring and early summer, and along the west coast as far north as Washington State, when especially strong winds can cast counteless numbers of these ill-fated critters ashore.

Look closely for the By the Wind Sailors.

Look closely for the By the Wind Sailors.

Harmless to humans: blue stinging tentacles around the rim.

Harmless to humans: blue stinging tentacles around the rim.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s SIMoN website:

Velella velella is incredibly stabile and seaworthy by design. The sail is triangular, slightly thicker at its base, stiffened by superficial thickened ridges, and yet still quite flexible. This incredible design allows smooth bending when its sail is under load, recoiling when the wind lets up, and overall minimizes the risk of kinking. The whole animal tilts when under sail, hull broadside to the flow of oncoming water.

Velella velella drifts before the wind, almost always tacking about 45 degrees to the right of the prevailing northwesterlies. This is normally enough to keep them offshore, however southerly or extremely strong onshore winds can cause them to spin around and follow the wind at a much closer angle that brings them toward land. Once washed ashore, the animals die and disintegrate within a few days.

And here’s a little something extra for your next beach/trivia party! According to Oregon State University: The sail is set diagonally to the long axis of the animal. On our side of the north Pacific Ocean, their sails are set in a northwest to southeast direction. On the other side of the north Pacific, the sails are set in a northeast to southwest direction. In the southern hemisphere, sails are reversed.”

Apparently, 2014 has been a bang-up year for the beaching of these remarkable, translucent, ocean-going creatures. Stories of mass sightings abound.

Here are a couple more helpful links in case you’d like to learn more about the (often hyphenated) by-the-wind sailor.

Bay Nature.org

National Geographic.com

Serenity, Sand and (yes) Sharks of Stinson Beach (Stinson Beach)

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Northern California Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Morro Bay, California – Sea Stars, Sand Dollars & Surfers

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: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Weekend Wondering

Posted by Jody on August 17, 2013

McClures Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Northern California

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.

~Saint Augustine

~~~

Posted in Northern California Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Beach at Cannery Row (Monterey, California)

Posted by Jody on June 13, 2013

John Steinbeck Sculpture at Cannery Row >>> This way to the beach!

John Steinbeck Sculpture at Cannery Row >>> This way to the beach!

Plaza Entrance to the Beach at Cannery Row

Plaza Entrance to the Beach at Cannery Row

Cannery Row's Beach

Cannery Row’s Beach

The Beach at Cannery Row, Monterey, California

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: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Santa Cruz-a-palooza (Part 4: The Surfers)

Posted by Jody on June 3, 2013

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

Additional links:

Surfing Santa Cruz

Riders of the Sea Spray

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

Friction in Santa Cruz waters: Paddle boarders, surfers battle

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Posted in Monday Miscellaneous, Northern California Beaches, Surfing Beach | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

April Showers Bring May Flowers to Big Sur

Posted by Jody on May 28, 2013

Early May 2013 in Big Sur on the Northern California Coast

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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

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Posted in Beach Flora, Northern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , | 21 Comments »

Santa Cruz-a-palooza (Part 3: The Wharf & Marine Sanctuary)

Posted by Jody on May 15, 2013

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

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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: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Santa Cruz-a-palooza (Part 2: The Main Beach)

Posted by Jody on May 11, 2013

~Last week on beautiful Main Beach/Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz on California’s Central Coast~

Helpful link~ City of Santa Cruz: Main Beach and Cowell Beach

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Can you believe that this week’s Travel Theme is Beaches? I just pushed the “Easy” button! ;-)

Posted in Boardwalk, Northern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Santa Cruz-a-palooza (Part 1: The Boardwalk)

Posted by Jody on May 9, 2013

Midweek in early May 2013 at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on California’s Central Coast

“World’s Best Seaside Amusement Park” ~ Amusement Today

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Where’s your favorite Boardwalk? We’d love to know!

Helpful link~ Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park

Posted in Boardwalk, Northern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

 
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