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Archive for the ‘Friday Finds’ Category

Tiny San Diego Beach Treasures: It Pays to Look Closely!

Posted by Jody on March 7, 2014

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Robyn W.

Tiny San Diego Beach Treasures: It Pays to Look Closely!

Some special little shells have washed up around the county in the past few weeks. I’ve been lucky to be able to sneak off to the beach here and there in the midst of a busy schedule, and was thrilled to find my first­-ever tusk shell in January on the sand at False Point, on the northern end of the Tourmaline Surfing Park. It is a Six­-sided Tusk shell, and there was only one. After looking for tusk shells on and off for the past 37 years in San Diego, this seemed pretty special.

Dentalium neohexagonum from La Jolla, California

Dentalium neohexagonum from La Jolla, California

Dentalium neohexagonum, the Six­sided Tusk shell. It is a little under an inch long. (January 2014)

Then, last week, I took a walk south from the southern end of Imperial Beach, and found a LOT of tusk shells in the drift debris at low tide. These were almost all the Indian Money Tusk, the shell that was prized as currency by the native peoples of the west coast in the past. Two little Six­-sided Tusks were found that day also.

Antalis pretiosum, the Indian Money Tusk

Antalis pretiosum, the Indian Money Tusk

Antalis pretiosum, the Indian Money Tusk. The largest is a little over an inch long. (February 2014)

Back at False Point in January, there were tiny Tinted Wentletraps washed up here and there on the sand. The largest in the photo is about ¼ inch long.

Epitonium tinctum, the Tinted Wentletrap

Epitonium tinctum, the Tinted Wentletrap

Epitonium tinctum, the Tinted Wentletrap. (January 2014)

One more San Diego beach treasure…but from a while ago, are these trivias found in the shelly debris at low tide way back around the year 2000. They were found at Torrey Pines State Beach, and I have never seen them since. They are about ¼ inch long.

Trivia californiana from Torrey Pines, Califoenia

Trivia californiana from Torrey Pines, California

Trivia californiana, the “Coffee Bean”.

Keep an eye out for San Diego’s tiny beach treasures ­ you’ll find them where you least expect them!

~~~

Robyn, what fun! You have quite an eye. These tiny beach treasures are absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your beachy times and your amazing treasure trove with us! I feel as if I’ve just had a great day at the beach too! ~Jody

~~~

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Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Featured Guest Writer, Friday Finds, Seashells, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Got Driftwood?

Posted by Jody on August 23, 2013

Can you believe what you can do with a wall mirror, some driftwood, and a hot glue gun?

Got Driftwood?

Got Driftwood?

Alaina and I found this drift wood artwork in a hotel elevator lobby along Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast. It looks like a pretty easy-breezy weekend project to me. What do you think?

Is it time to dive into your driftwood stash? We’d love to see your crafty side!

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasure and Seashell Crafts, Beachy Keen Art, Decorating With Beach Treasures, Friday Finds, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

Beachless in Pittsburgh: The Water Steps

Posted by Jody on May 31, 2013

Pittsburgh’s convenient TPlus light rail service stops very near the Water Steps at Riverfront Park on the city’s North Shore. That little gem of knowledge clinched my decision to tote a 6 & a 4 year old to the Northside last week for a break from the ennui of our Downtown hotel. The “Water Steps” is actually an impressive fountain consisting of 500 blocks of Pennsylvania’s Butler County sandstone along with shallow pools formed by the cascading water. The water first spills over a 4-foot waterfall before tumbling down, around, over, and through the staggered, multilevel steps. The expansive sloping lawn next to the Water Steps serves as a make-believe beach scene, with scantily clad folks stretching out on towels and blankets to relax and soak up the sunshine.

Tour Boat on the Allegheny River

Tour Boats Pass by the Water Steps on the Allegheny River

I found out about the Water Steps from the Pittsburgh Official Visitor’s Guide, which urged the out-of-towner to “play in the water steps near Heinz Field.”  From that (and the very inviting full-page photo) I knew it was a family friendly oasis. Once we arrived, it was pretty easy to see that many other families were regular day visitors to this lovely flowing fountain fronting the Allegheny River. The two little ones had an absolute blast playing and splashing in the water, hopping from level to level with their new found friends. As the morning progressed, older kids and adults came to laze around and cool off, too.

The Duck Tours pass by The Water Steps

Duck Tours Pass by the Water Steps on the Riverwalk

I didn’t know this before our visit, but there are no nearby washroom facilities or changing areas at the Water Steps. That certainly began to concern me as the fountain filled up with people of all ages, some accompanied by their furry four footed family members! It also made for some pretty fancy maneuvering to get the kids changed out of their wet clothes!

The Water Steps

The Water Steps

As we prepared to pack up and head back Downtown for lunch, I was pretty surprised to find a sign way high up near the top outside corner of the Water Steps warning people NOT to swim or wade in the water because of the slipperiness of the steps.

What??

WHAT?

Is this eye-catching fountain just an attractive riverside water feature or is it an an interactive urban splash and play pond? It really doesn’t seem to matter!

Show and Tell: Where do you head for some waterside fun in your favorite beachless town?

~~~

Helpful links for other beach-starved visitors to Pittsburgh:

Notable fountains outside Downtown Pittsburgh

PPG Place Plaza and Water Feature

Visit Pittsburgh.com

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says

Posted in Friday Finds, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

Get Away from the Crowds at Cocoa Beach, Florida

Posted by Jody on April 19, 2013

Today’s Featured Guest Post Writer is Bridget Sandorford:

Florida is known for its beautiful and diverse beaches, which offer a little bit of something for everyone, from families with small children to retirees to college students looking to have a fun vacation. Daytona Beach, Palm Beach and South Beach get some of the most attention with vacationers, but Cocoa Beach offers a much more relaxed experience for those interested in getting off the beaten path.

Empty Cocoa Beach on a cloudy day (Dennis Adams, Federal Highways Administration, via Wikimedia Commons)

Empty Cocoa Beach on a Cloudy Day (Dennis Adams, Federal Highways Administration, PD-USGov via Wikipedia)

Cocoa Beach is located about an hour-and-a-half south of its more popular cousin, Daytona Beach. But when you drive up to the soft, white sandy shore of Cocoa Beach, you won’t be inundated by droves of college students and other partygoers. The vibe at Cocoa Beach is much more relaxed and peaceful — which makes sense considering that it’s a mecca for retirees. According to the 2010 census, the median age in Cocoa Beach is 54, with 62 percent of the population being older than 45.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot for families to enjoy at Cocoa Beach! There are a number of attractions in the area, including the Cocoa Beach Pier and the Alan Shepard Beachfront Park. Of course, the two most notable landmarks are Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, which receives 2 million visitors a year, and the Kennedy Space Center. Though you can no longer watch the space shuttle launches from the shores of Cocoa Beach – - something I enjoyed doing as a child growing up in Florida — you can still take your children to the space center and learn a lot about our explorations into the final frontier.

Cocoa Beach Pier Cocoa Beach, Florida (Lane 4 Imaging via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Cocoa Beach Pier, Cocoa Beach, Florida (Lane 4 Imaging via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

If all that’s not enough for you, you can also check out the Thousand Islands Conservation Area and the Cocoa Beach Aquatic Center and Pool Complex. Of course, a drive down the scenic A1A – and enjoy sharing your love of “Ice, Ice Baby” with your kids (who just won’t get it).

With the summer months approaching, the beaches are bound to start getting crowded. If you want to get off the beaten path and enjoy a little slower pace that will allow you to truly enjoy your vacation and spend some quality time with your family, consider Cocoa Beach.

 About the Author: Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching culinary school in Hawaii. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

~~~

Even more helpful links: Visit Cocoa Beach.com

Visit Florida.com

Visit Space Coast Blog

*Bridget, you are so right! Cocoa Beach is a lovely place to visit. The girls and I once took a day trip to this area just because Major Nelson and Jeannie made their home in Cocoa Beach. It was a beautiful day on a very clean, uncrowded beach! Thanks so much for the wonderful post and for reminding me of a great day at the beach! ~Jody*

Posted in Atlantic Coast Beaches, Featured Guest Writer, Friday Finds | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

Travel Theme: Time

Posted by Jody on March 22, 2013

“For the times they are a-changin’.”

Signs of the times: "Smoke Free" Hermosa Beach in Southern California

Signs of the Times

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

~Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin’”

~~~~

This week’s Travel Theme topic is “Time.”

 

Posted in Friday Finds, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The Islands of the Mo’o (Hawaiian Lizard)

Posted by E.G.D. on March 1, 2013

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Walter Wong:

On La'ie Bay (Photo by Walter Wong)

On La’ie Bay (Photo by Walter Wong)

Aloha from the Islands of Hawaii.  As a son of a Fisherman, I grew up swimming along with my father as he would spear fish for family meals.  It was a very special place I felt as “La’ie Bay”, located on the Northeastern tip of the island of O’ahu,  contained several islands which if assembled, would depict a giant Lizard or Mo’o as we say in Hawaiian.

My two sons and a Mo'o head (photo by Walter Wong)

My two sons and a Mo’o head (photo by Walter Wong)

The picture of my two sons shows the head of the giant Mo’o in the back ground with the hole representing the eye.  It was special to share this with my sons as we live on the Big Island of Hawaii.  All they could ask was “are there sharks Dad?”.   Soon, it will be time for me to give them the knowledge of swimming to the different islands of the Mo’o so they will know where and how to care for their families when the time comes.  In the mean time, I will watch and observe the ocean for the right conditions, and their journey will begin.  Aloha!

About the Author: Walter Wong is a Native Hawaiian who grew up in Laie, Oahu, Hawaii, now residing on the Big Island of Hawaii. He is the father of 8 children and the Owner of HawaiianUp.  He enjoys sharing stories about Hawaii and helping people to make their own memories.

~~~

For more of our posts about the island of Oahu, please visit:

The End of the Road, Oahu, Hawaii

Iconic Chinaman’s Hat, Windward Oahu

Snorkeling, Sunbathing, Swimming and… Homework? Hanauma Bay!

Mystery Beach (La’ie Beach), Oahu, Hawai’i

Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Lagoon (aka: The Hilton Lagoon), Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

Beachcombing & Sea Turtles at Hale’iwa Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii

Beachcombing on Waikiki Beach (Oahu, Hawaii)

And many more! -E.G.D.

Posted in Beaches of The Hawaiian Islands, Featured Guest Writer, Friday Finds | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

A (Lake) Pleasant Surprise!

Posted by Jody on January 11, 2013

"Where's the beach?" (Behind you!) -Lake Pleasant Regional Park

“Where’s the beach?” (Right behind you!) -Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Greg and I just discovered the most amazing lake in the arid, saguaro-studded hills of central Arizona! Never mind the fact that our family has been driving back and forth from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the Phoenix metropolitan area (Arizona) for nearly 23 years now. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been passing by this beautiful oasis, nestled in the Sonoran Desert, for decades!

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Tucked into the Valley of the Sun, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is actually located within the municipal boundaries of Peoria, Arizona. The reason this is all so amazing (and almost embarrassing) is that my mother-in-law has lived in Peoria for over 20 years! In our defense, there is a large, recently installed, brand spanking new sign along southbound Interstate 17 announcing the recreation area to all who drive by. Better late than never!

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Beaches, beaches everywhere!

Located just 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix, Lake Pleasant (Arizona’s second largest lake) spans 10,000 acres. A holding lake, its water comes from two sources: Central Arizona Project Canal and the Aqua Fria River. Lake Pleasant Regional Park is managed by the Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Department, the largest regional park  system in the United States!

New Waddell Dam, Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

New Waddell Dam, Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park has it all: swimming, hiking, picnicking, camping, boating, fishing, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and the list goes on. Pick a beach, any beach, for a refreshing swim or to launch your paddling trip!

Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Bring your own shade to the beach!

The water is cool, crystal clear, and oh, so placid.

Cool, clear water of Lake Pleasant

Cool, clear water of Lake Pleasant

Can you believe that this gorgeous gem is tucked away in the dusty, dry desert just northwest of Phoenix?

Scorpion Bay Marina and Floating Restaurant, Lake Pleasant

Take the tram or the stairs to the new Scorpion Bay Marina and floating restaurant!

Lake Pleasant Regional Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is  an entrance fee of  $6.00 per vehicle ~ a real bargain for the available amenities! Be sure to stop at the Nature Center to chat with the friendly park hosts and see the wildlife exhibits. You can also check for upcoming events which might include ranger talks, guided paddle tours, and group hikes. Sign me up!

From central Phoenix, take I-17 north to Carefree Highway (SR 74). Exit Carefree Hwy. and travel west 15 miles to Castle Hot Spring Road. Travel north to Lake Pleasant Regional Park entrance.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

¡Hasta luego, mi amigos!

~~~~~~

Helpful links: Lake Pleasant Regional Park, City of Peoria, Visit Peoria, Arizona

Posted in Friday Finds, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , | 22 Comments »

Travel Theme: Festive

Posted by Jody on December 21, 2012

Celebrate the Season! Hermosa Beach, California

Celebrate the Season! Hermosa Beach, California

Hermosa Beach, California

Hermosa Beach, California

Even on a cold and rainy December day, signs of the Christmas season give Hermosa Beach, Schumacher Plaza, and the pedestrian friendly pier a really festive and fun holiday atmosphere!

This week’s Travel Theme topic is “Festive.”

~~~~~

Posted in Friday Finds, Southern California Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Christmas with Sanibel Style

Posted by Jody on December 7, 2012

Island beaches, seashells, a lighthouse and Christmas! Does it get any better than this?

The Sanibel Island Light, Sanibel Island, Florida

The Sanibel Island Light, Sanibel Island, Florida

Christmastime ~ The Sanibel Island Light

Christmastime ~ The Sanibel Island Light

Merry Christmas on Sanibel Island, Florida

A Merry Christmas on Sanibel Island, Florida

The striking Sanibel Island Light stands on the eastern tip of Sanibel Island, Florida.  Located on the Gulf of Mexico, it was built to mark the entrance to San Carlos Bay to guide the ships calling at the port of Punta Rassa (across San Carlos Bay from Sanibel Island). The surrounding grounds are open to the public, but there is no entrance to the functioning lighthouse itself.

Seashell strewn Lighthouse Beach wraps from the Gulf side of Sanibel Island around to the bay side.  This area of the beach is very popular with beachcombers looking for “minis,”  the teeniest-tiniest of seashells. We’ve seen folks equipped with long surgical type tweezers patiently examining nearby seashell piles.

To find Sanibel Island Light  just turn left on Periwinkle Way from Causeway Road. Head all the way to the end of the road. Here you’ll also find a fishing pier and a boardwalk nature trail winding through the island’s native wetlands.  Facilities include restrooms and outdoor shower,  plenty of 24 hour paid parking in the large lot and fee-free bike racks. Pets must be kept on a leash around the lighthouse grounds, and on the beach.

Would you like more info on Sanibel’s world renowned shelling beaches? Here are just a few more posts on Sanibel Island:

Beachcombing? Shelling Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Top Ten Florida Beaches for Seashells

Sanibel Island, Florida: A Beachcomber’s Bonanza

But wait, there’s more! :-) You might also want to type “Sanibel” into the search box (Treasure Hunt!) on the top left of this page.                    

Merry Christmas and Happy Beachcombing!

  ~~~~~~~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Friday Finds, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Lighthouses, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 28 Comments »

Friday Fun: Seashell Pancake Art!

Posted by alainaflute on November 2, 2012

Inspired by an idea she saw in Real Simple, my mom (Jody) got to work scheming up ideas for seashell pancake designs, and today, we finally got around to making them! The article, which showed how you can make edible autumn leaves out of pancake batter, suggested one use a turkey baster to do the drawing. We found plastic squeeze bottles to be an easier alternative because they offer more control.

Let’s make seashell pancakes!

For our template, we used some shell pictures from my mom’s field guide and some simple shell designs she printed off of the internet, including a sand dollar, scallop, and sea star.

To begin, we made a simple pancake batter from scratch (or you can use a boxed mix). Then, we made it slightly thinner by adding almost 1/2 cup water (so it would be squeezable). We heated our griddle to about 375°F (190°C) and added a thin layer of canola oil to prevent sticking.

To make the pancakes, we started by squeezing the outside of the design onto the griddle, along with any markings we wanted to show up when we flipped them. Patience is the real trick here. You want your outlines to show, so they must be significantly darker than the rest of the pancake. Wait for 3-5 minutes or so before squeezing in the rest of the batter (filling in your outlines). Flip and admire your artwork!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Start with simple designs, such as the moon snail, sand dollar, and sea star, and then work your way up to the more intricate whelks, murexes, and conchs.

The sea’s the limit!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Posted in Beachy Keen Art, Friday Finds | Tagged: , , , | 38 Comments »

 
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