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Archive for the ‘Inland Shores’ Category

I Found the Beach at Lake Livingston!

Posted by E.G.D. on July 17, 2014

It was no easy feat, but I found them: the beaches of Lake Livingston.  After failing to find a beach at Lake Conroe a couple days earlier, I was absolutely determined to find something equating a beach at Lake Livingston State Park, which is around two hours north of the northern reaches of Houston, Texas.  You see, I was passing through Livingston on my way home from Diboll, TX, where I was performing a Mad Science show for the local library.  For those of you who are familiar with that stretch of Texas, Diboll is squarely between Lufkin and Livingston, which are both fairly sizable towns with a lot to offer a visitor.  None of the listed locales, however, boast a beach in any of their tourist literature.  Soooooo, I paid the $5 entry fee for the state park, hopped out of my car, and went off-trailing (the on-foot equivalent of off-roading) around the edge of Lake Livingston in hopes that a swimming pool and an in-lake swimming area edged by a boardwalk were not all the lake had to offer.  Behold!  This is what I found:

This counts, I tell you! (Photo by E.G.D.)

This counts, I tell you! (Photo by E.G.D.)

This one was sort of behind and below the area with the swing-set.  Those are the best directions I can give, because I had to get a bit creative to find it.  Here’s a shot without ducks:

See?  It's totally a beach! (photo by E.G.D.)

See? It’s totally a beach! (photo by E.G.D.)

I hopped around the rocks for a while at this little beach, and then I moved on.  The other beach I found was behind and below the campsites for campers (the sites with water and electric hookups):

This one's rocky, too. (photo by E.G.D.)
This one’s rocky, too. (photo by E.G.D.)

Whether or not you are looking for a beach there, Lake Livingston is quite lovely, and I recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area.  There were many families cycling around the trails (apparently bikes are welcome pretty much anywhere in the park), enjoying the swimming hole, hiking, fishing, grilling… the usual state park camping sort of things.  I get the feeling it’s the local population’s favorite way to beat the heat in the summer.  And hey, there are beaches!  I know.  I found them.

Have a great day (hopefully at the beach) – E.G.D.

Helpful links: Lake Livingston State Park: “At Lake Livingston State Park, you can swim (in the lake or pool), fish, boat, hike, bird, camp, picnic, mountain bike, ride horses, geocache and study nature. We have activities for the whole family!”

Alligator Safety Tips (YIKES!)

Texas State Parks Swimming Safety Tips

 ~~~

E.G.D., you are absolutely right! It does count. The definition of a beach according to Merriam-Webster is “a shore of a body of water covered by sand, gravel, or larger rock fragments.” :-) We beach fans take them where we can get them!

Thanks so much for sharing your find!

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Posted in Inland Shores, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Sea of Windswept Sand

Posted by Jody on May 14, 2014

The Land of Enchantment has some absolutely wonderful beaches. But where do New Mexicans go when it’s still a little too chilly to head to our state’s beautiful shorelines? We might just head to the biggest gypsum sandbox on earth! That’s exactly what Greg and I did with our grandchildren when they came for an extended visit recently.

White Sands National Monument is the located on the world’s largest gypsum dune field. Nestled in south central New Mexico, at the northernmost edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, White Sands is the perfect place to kick off your shoes and explore a small slice of the 275 square miles of cool, powder fine, glistening white sand dunes. Barefoot is definitely best! Walking in the silky sand, sans sneakers, is the ultimate in luxury for winter-weary tootsies!

On the spring day we arrived, the air temperature was in the mid-80′s, and it was windy, which is typical for the Tularosa Basin. The sand was blowing, and our views of nearby mountains were slightly obscured by the dust in the air. Yet it was the perfect day for sifting, rolling, sledding, and just plain trekking up and over the seemingly endless, wavelike dunes.

Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through:

There is water here, hidden below the uppermost layer of sand. Indeed, throughout the extensive dune field, highly mineralized water is just a few feet from the surface. The depth of the ground water varies from about five feet below the surface on the east side of the dune field, decreasing to one to three feet below the surface nearer the western end.

In the evening we joined in on the ever-popular, no reservations necessary, ranger-led Sunset Stroll:

There was a beach here once upon a time:

“The gypsum that makes up White Sands is ultimately derived from marine rocks. Shallow seas covered much of New Mexico throughout the Paleozoic Era (570-245) million years ago). Marine deposits as old as 500 million years are present in the San Andres Mountains, but by far the most abundant sedimentary rocks in southern New Mexico are Permian in age (290-245 Ma). In the Permian Period, North America was part of a great megacontinent called Pangaea, and present day New Mexico was submerged in a tropical sea just south of the equator. The limestone mountains at Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks represent the remains of a large barrier reef that was part of this Permian sea. In the middle of the Permian Period there was a major fall in sea level, causing vast stretches of water across southern New Mexico to nearly dry up. It was during this drying-up phase that large quantities of gypsum rock were deposited.”

Source: Geology Fieldnotes, NPS.gov

All resources within White Sands National Monument are federally protected.  Collecting sand, natural objects, and historic items is strictly prohibited. We took home some wonderful memories and these photographs. The saying goes: “Leave only footprints,” but even our footprints were not left behind in the windswept white sands of south central New Mexico.

Have a great day at the beach (or former beach)!

~~~

Helpful links: White Sands National Monument home page,  Plan Your Visit, and park brochures galore

Alamogordo Visitor’s Guide

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve 

Posted in Inland Shores, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Christmas at the Beach ~ New Mexico Style!

Posted by Jody on December 2, 2013

How do you celebrate Christmas with seaside style? Does your favorite beach community dazzle holiday revelers with an annual lighted boat parade? Does Santa Claus arrive on your sandy shores riding a jet ski? Or does the jolly old elf hang ten on a surfboard?

New Mexicans celebrate with a traditional family friendly holiday river cruise! We head to Carlsbad, New Mexico, and hop onto pontoon boats that set sail from the Pecos River Village docks – directly across the Pecos River from Carlsbad Lake Beach Park. The boats travel along the Pecos for prime time views of creatively illuminated back yards and colorful twinkling river islands. Quite happily, our extended family gathered together on this year’s opening night for the ever popular “Christmas on the Pecos” sparkly winter wonderland tour!

Here, we’ll scoot over a bit so you can join us for a festive ride aboard the lovely Bella Sera:

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Now it’s your turn to tell us about your favorite beachy Christmas event!  ~ Pretty please ~ with a sea star on top!

~~~

According to New Mexico.org: “Christmas on the Pecos River has been awarded one of the top 100 “must see” events in North America by the American Bus Association every year since 1996.”

Related links: Home and Garden  …and Beach!

Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area

Lake Carlsbad Beach Park

Christmas on the Pecos

Posted in Inland Shores, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Most Relaxing Morning Ever

Posted by Jody on September 29, 2013

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Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is something that I’ve wanted to try for many years! SUP is a fun and easy family activity, making this fast-growing sport the perfect opportunity for just about anyone to go out and play on the water.

According to REI: “Paddle boarding offers an amazing full body workout and is becoming a favorite cross-training activity for skiers, snowboarders and other athletes. And since you’re standing at your full height, you’ll enjoy excellent views of everything from sea creatures to what’s on the horizon. It’s almost like walking on water!”

Greg and I recently spent a gorgeous New Mexican September morning paddle boarding on Cochiti Lake. It was our first experience on stand up paddle boards, so we had no idea what to expect. After suiting up with life vests, Gene Scanlon of Sol Board Sports in Albuquerque taught us everything we needed to know, and within a very short amount of time, we were eagerly launching our boards from the beach to enjoy the most relaxing morning ever on placid Cochiti Lake. It really was almost like walking on water. Neither one of us even fell in the lake (and falling off the board was the one thing I really had anticipated)! :-)

Gene told us that paddle boarders could burn up to 1,100 calories per hour, and after two hours on the lake, we could definitely believe it! Our leg & arm muscles felt like wet noodles. (Note to self: Next time eat a heartier breakfast!) But when we returned to the little sandy beach, Greg and I both felt completely relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated. We were hooked after only one time out!

I see many, many more stand up paddling days in our future!

Do you have a favorite beach sport? Do tell! We’d love to hear about it.

This week’s Travel Theme is “Relaxing.”

Helpful links:

REI / Stand Up Paddleboarding

Cochiti Lake, New Mexico

American Canoe Association

~~~

Posted in Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Beach Bird Watching (Looking into Looking Up)

Posted by E.G.D. on July 19, 2013

I was reading an article this morning about bird photography on the coast of Marco Island.  Apparently, at the island’s Tigertail Beach, that sort of thing is a serious spectator sport, in that not only did the journalist seem to be watching the birds, he seemed to be watching the photographers, and he seemed to expect his readers to be as interested in the photographers as in the birds.  He talked about the photographers and camera equipment, in fact, significantly more than he talked about the birds.  This makes journalistic sense, in that the article was published in the Marco Eagle, Marco’s local newspaper.

This brings me, in a roundabout way, to my point.  It seems to me that most beach-goers who are not bird photographers or birdwatchers are unlikely to go to the beach to seek out interesting avian life.  We flock to boat tours for whale watching, or dolphin spotting.  We squeal like children when we spot a sea turtle.  We go snorkeling or scuba diving to see interesting fish.  We brave the natural smelliness of seals to see them basking in the sun.  Is it just me, or do we spend most of our wildlife energy on the beaches in looking down?

I’m a sheller.  I’ll admit, I’m guilty as charged!

Beach Birding on the Texas Gulf Coast

Beach Birding on the Texas Gulf Coast

Why don’t we, for the sake of shaking up our usual beach routines, spend a little time enjoying the wildlife that occasionally goes up?  For those of you who are interested, here is a series of fun links concerning beach bird watching all over the U.S. :

Birding the Great Lakes Beaches (Tundra Swans, Bald Eagles and many more!):

Bird Watching at Waukegan Municipal Beach

Birding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail

Birding areas in the Great Lakes Bay Region

Birding the East Coast:

Birding Assateague Island National Seashore(Funny thing, I’ve actually been to this area, and I don’t remember a single bird.  Not because the birds weren’t there, but because I wasn’t looking!)

Space Coast Birding

Pacific Coast Beach Birding - Santa Cruz, California

West Coast Beach Birding – Santa Cruz, California

Birding the West Coast:

The Bird Guide (there are some good links on this site for the Pacific Northwest coast)

Focus on Birds

Bird Watching in San Diego

Birding Hawaii’s Shores:

Hawaiian Audobon

Gulf Of Mexico Beach Birding:

Alabama Gulf Coastal Birding Trail

Birds of the Upper Texas Coast

Cool, huh?  I’ve been looking up things to look up at all morning, and actually, most of them seem to spend quite a lot of their time wading.  Still, aren’t they fun?  Enjoy! -E.G.D.

~~~ Originally published Jul 27, 2011 ~~~

Please feel free to share your coastal bird watching experiences and/or your favorite beach birding site!

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Birding, Beaches of North America, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 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 »

“Where’s the beach?”

Posted by Jody on March 18, 2013

Last weekend Greg and I had the chance to visit the awe-inspiring Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado.  We had enough time to arrange our drive from Albuquerque to Denver to include an overnight in Alamosa, which is about a 35 mile ride south and west of the park. It was an opportunity we just couldn’t pass up. The Great Sand Dunes are the tallest dunes in all of North America. The spectacular main dunefield stretches over 30 square miles at the foot of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains (the entire park covers nearly 376 square miles). Simply put, this is one of the most Bucket List worthy places in the United States. Our family had been to the park many years ago, and we couldn’t wait to get back for some hiking and R&R.

Here’s a list of what we found!

Sand ~

Sand

Sand

Driftwood ~

Driftwood

Driftwood

Dune grass ~

Dune Grass

Dune Grass

And sand dunes as far as the eyes could see!

Sand Dunes

Sand Dunes

You might be thinking: “This is a beach inspired blog, Jody! Where’s the beach?”

And I would reply, “It’s right here!” :-)

The Beach at Medano Creek

*This is the beach at Medano Creek!*

“Well then, where’s the water?”, you ask.

“Look up! It’s high in the snow pack (14,000 +/- feet) of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains!”, I answer.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Southern Colorado

Every year, Medano Creek is formed by the melting winter snows. From April to June (and sometimes into July), the icy streams formed by the annual snow melt trickle down the mountain sides to create the Medano Creek beach and play area that are just perfect for splashing, surfing, wading, skimboarding, and floating! In fact, depending on water level, visitors may participate in any non-motorized activities in the creek. Sand boarding and sand sledding on the dunes are all the rage. Sand castle building is a very popular waterside activity, too.

We’re planning a trip back for fun in the sun and water in May or June so there will be more photos to follow. For now, here’s a look at more of the beauty that is Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. It is by far one of the best of the best recreation areas the USA has to offer within its vast (84.4 million acre) National Park System!

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes

<----- This way to the dunes.

<—– This way to the dunes and beach.

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes

Can you spot the hikers?

Can you spot the hikers on the ridges?

Hikers on the Dunes

Hikers on the Dunes

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes

Winter at the Great Sand Dunes

Winter at the Great Sand Dunes

~~~

Have a great day at the beach!

~~~

Posted in Beaches of North America, Inland Shores, Monday Miscellaneous, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , | 38 Comments »

Travel Theme: Mountains

Posted by Jody on February 16, 2013

Let’s face it. Some people are mountain people. Other folks prefer the desert.

Then there are those of us who would rather spend our days at the beach.

But what if you could have the best of all of these worlds? What if you simply didn’t have to choose?

Willow Beach, Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Willow Beach, Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Wild and wonderful Willow Beach really does have it all!  Mother Nature’s delectable buffet, Willow Beach has beautiful mountains, hot and sunny desert, and welcoming beaches! Less than an hour south of Las Vegas, Nevada, this amazing recreation area is a relaxing respite from the lights, action, and crowds of Sin City.

Located on the east banks of the Colorado River within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and surrounded by stately mountains, this Arizona oasis is the perfect place to stretch out and relax with a good book or to launch your paddle adventure.  Take a dip in the cool, fresh water or stake your claim for a day of fishing right here, smack-dab in the middle of  the sun-drenched Black Canyon region of the Mojave Desert.

And that, my friends, is how we fit one of our favorite beach escapes into

this week’s “Travel Theme: Mountains!”

~~~~~~

Helpful links: I Hit the Jackpot at Willow Beach

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Have a great day at the beach!

Posted in Beaches of North America, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 14 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 »

From our Rivers to the Oceans

Posted by Jody on January 3, 2013

Albuquerque Bio Park, Albuquerque Aquarium

Albuquerque Bio Park, Albuquerque Aquarium

Even on a cold winter’s day in the American Southwest, there’s plenty to learn about our world’s rivers, lakes, oceans, rugged shorelines, and sandy beaches. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, we have a wonderful BioPark which includes the Albuquerque Aquarium. As you enter the aquarium building, the first exhibit relates to our own Rio Grande, the river that flows from southwestern Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico.

Sign at the entrance of the Albuquerque Aquarium

Sign at the entrance of the Albuquerque Aquarium

As romantic as it might sound to say that a person could send a message in a bottle down a river in New Mexico to be found by someone on an ocean beach, that really is the case, and that is not actually a good thing if one stops to think of that bottle as a piece of trash.  We desert dwellers might not think about the ocean on a daily basis (well, perhaps in our daydreams), but our behaviors upstream do have an impact on the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. Taking the kiddos to this aquarium is a great way to teach them (and ourselves) about the importance of keeping our waters clean. As we say in The Land of Enchantment, “Toss no mas!”

Rio Grande Exhibit, Albuquerque Aquarium

Rio Grande Exhibit, Albuquerque Aquarium

"Oh the Mighty Rio Grande, Flowing to the Gulf."  - Gulf of Mexico Beach, Texas

“Oh the Mighty Rio Grande, Flowing to the Gulf.” – Gulf of Mexico Beach, Texas

You never know!  Maybe that piece of beach glass you found on a beach in Alabama found its way there from farther inland than you imagined.  In the end, there is no way to know, but it is interesting to think about, and the more people we can educate about keeping trash out of our waterways, the better, even if trash can be turned into a beachcomber’s treasure.

So, happy beach combing, everyone!  Do you think that those of us who like to collect beach glass, driftwood, and beach pottery pieces are really clearing upstream litter off the beach?  Wouldn’t that be a nice and unexpected perk!

~~~~~~~

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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