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Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Posted by Jody on June 10, 2014

Calico Scallops

Calico Scallops

It’s easy to see why these beautiful bivalves are the seashell collector’s dream. Each and every Calico Scallop (Argopecten gibbus) is a colorful, unique, and fun-filled piece of eye candy! They can be found in variations of pink, white, orange, brown, purple. Keeping only one is virtually impossible for even the most tried and true beachcomber! Commonly found on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, they range from Delaware Bay to Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico, and south to much of the Caribbean Sea.

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

These variegated seashells are especially plentiful and very easy to find undamaged on Florida’s sandy Gulf Coast beaches. The color-splashed Calico Scallops in this collection all hail from the world-renowned shelling beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida.

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Growing up to 2 1/2 inches across, Calico Scallops are almost circular in shape and very easy to identify. These seashells have about 20 strong, well defined, smooth (non-scaly) ribs. Look for each shell’s “ears” to be about equal in size.

Seriously, who wouldn’t be tickled pink to have a basket full of these picture perfect beach treasures in their collection?

Happy Beachcombing!

~~~

Related links:

Sanibel Island, Florida: A Beachcomber’s Bonanza

The Sanibel Shell Guide

Beachcombing Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Christmas with Sanibel Style

~~~

 

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Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Sea

Posted by Jody on June 5, 2014

North of Canon Beach on the Oregon Coast

Ecola State Park, Oregon Coast

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

~Jacques Yves Cousteau

~~~

Posted in Pacific Coast Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Beach Metal Detecting: 5 Metal Detector Maintenance Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Machine

Posted by Jody on June 2, 2014

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Michael Bernzweig.

When you invest in a metal detector it’s important to care for it properly so you can get as much use out of it as possible. To help, we’ve compiled this list of metal detector maintenance tips so you can be sure you’re taking care of your machine correctly for years of trouble free treasure hunting.

Metal Detecting in Rockport, Texas

Metal Detecting in Rockport, Texas

Use a Carrying Case

Keeping your machine in a protective carrying case whenever it’s not in use ensures that it will stay safe and dry. You may also want to consider an additional cover for the search coil to further protect this very sensitive piece of your metal detector.

Clean Your Metal Detector After Each Use

Keeping your machine clean is essential. Metal detectors can become quite dirty out in the field, especially when treasure hunting at the beach or in the salt water. Using a soft rag and/or toothbrush you can be sure all the dirt, sand, and other particles are out of all the nooks and crannies of your machine where they can cause a range of different problems.

Remove the Batteries Before Storage

Before you store your machine, always take the batteries out. Removing the batteries before storing your metal detector is important so they don’t get corroded in the machine. Plus, it helps you keep them charged so they’re ready when you need them.

Metal Detecting in Santa Cruz, California

Metal Detecting in Santa Cruz, California

Store in a Cool, Dry Place

Be sure to avoid extreme temperatures when storing your metal detector. This means, for example, don’t leave it in the back of your car, or in the garage. Instead, choose a closet or other environment that feels comfortable to you and doesn’t experience intense temperature fluctuations. Also, make sure wherever you store your metal detector is dry as well. For some this will mean not storing their machine in the basement, either! Damp, humid conditions can rob your machine of years of proper functioning, so find a nice dry space to store your metal detector for best results.

Test Your Metal Detector Regularly

To help your metal detector perform its best, and verify that there are no mechanical issues you need to attend to, you’ll want to test your machine regularly. Your metal detector instruction manual may have some advice on testing your specific detector. We generally just hunt known targets in order to calibrate the machine and help us ensure everything is in working order. Testing the headphones and other accessories this way is important too.

These metal detector maintenance tips are very simple, yet, if they’re not performed regularly, a variety of complex problems can result. So, instead of having to pay for repairs or even a new metal detector, be sure to give your current machine some regular TLC and it’ll be finding you treasures for years to come.

About the Author: Michael Bernzweig manages MetalDetector.com in Southborough, MA. He has written on the subject of treasure hunting and metal detecting since the mid 1980’s. He enjoys traveling with his metal detector and helping to educate others in the correct use of metal detectors in their explorations.

Helpful links: What are the best metal detectors for metal detecting on the beach?

Safe, Fun, and Successful Beach Metal Detecting!

~~~

 

 

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Featured Guest Writer, Sand and Shoreline, Tallies & Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Angel Wings: A Heavenly Find

Posted by Jody on May 28, 2014

“Angel wing” is the perfect name for this beachcombing favorite! Easy to identify, these beautiful seashells are well-known collector’s items.

Angel wings (Cyrtopleura costata) are very fragile seashells. Somehow, quite a few of them seem to make it to the beach unchipped and in one piece, but it can be a bit of a challenge to get one of these brittle beach treasures all the way home intact!

Angel Wings, Bryan Beach, Texas (Brazoria County)

Angel wings can be found along the Atlantic Coast from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to the northern West Indies. Their range includes the Gulf of Mexico and reaches as far south as Brazil. Our family found many of these wing-shaped beauties on Brazoria County’s Gulf Coast (Texas).

These delicate, snowy white bivalves are members of the burrowing Piddock family.  Angel wings bore deep into the soft sandy mud (up to 3 feet below the surface). Filter feeders, they feast on the microalgae and tiny zooplankton in their mucky home, where they can grow up to 8 inches in length.

Angel Wings

Angel Wings

“The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.”  – George Eliot, English novelist

Have a heavenly day at the beach!

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

In Honor of Memorial Day

Posted by Jody on May 25, 2014

USS Lexington, Corpus Christi Beach, Texas

USS Lexington, Corpus Christi Beach, Texas

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.

Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” 

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

~~~

USS Lexington: The USS LEXINGTON, CV-16, is a World War II-vintage Essex Class aircraft carrier.

KA 3B Sky Warrior Aboard the  USS Lexington

KA 3B Sky Warrior Aboard the USS Lexington

U.S. Memorial Day.org

~~~

Rainy Day on Corpus Christi Beach

Rainy Day on Corpus Christi Beach

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Sand and Shoreline, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

♫ Good Day Sunshine ♫

Posted by Jody on May 21, 2014

Orange Beach, Alabama

Orange Beach, Alabama

♫ Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine.
I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I’ve got something I can laugh about,
I feel good, in a special way.
I’m in love and it’s a sunny day. ♫

~Lyrics by John Lennon, Paul McCartney

~~~

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Maunder Taylor Family’s Excellent Adventure

Posted by Jody on May 17, 2014

The Coastal Path is one of my very favorite blogs. It chronicles the explorations and light-hearted shenanigans of the Maunder Taylor family as they travel on foot along the coast of Britain. I like it partly because Greg and I hope to hike Britain’s seaside trails in the not-too-distant future. But mostly I enjoy reading The Coastal Path because it’s just plain fun to tag along with this close-knit wayfaring clan on their frequent coastal jaunts. 

Recently, I asked Nic (Dad and blogger) for his tips on undertaking a walk around the coast of Britain. I was thrilled when not only he, but each one of his family members, chimed in with their own witty words of advice!

 Today’s Featured Guest Writers are Nic, Deb, Ben, and Catherine Maunder Taylor!

The  Maunder Taylor at Boscombe

The Maunder Taylor Family at Boscombe

Nic told me that he first had the idea of walking the coast of Britain 20 years ago but didn’t act on it. He went on to make a career, eventually joined the family business, and settled down into a life of working during the week. He then spent his weekends “half waiting for the week to start again.” 

      After about 10 years of this I turned 40 and had what I call a “healthy mid-life wobble”. It wasn’t a crisis by any means – just an appropriately timed self-correction.  For some reason (I have no idea why) I declared I wanted to go to Southend Pier on my birthday. We went on some rides (I went upside down on a roller coaster for the first time since I was 15) and took a walk up the pier.  We went on a tall ship that happened to be moored at there and had coffee. I remembered the dream I’d had when I was younger.

     For a couple of months I thought quietly about things and then suggested it to my wife. She thought I was quite bonkers and preferred the “one step at a time” approach, agreeing to do a walk if I could convince the kids. Convince the kids?!?!?  That was EASY!

     “Hey you two!” I shouted, “If you come for a walk with us we’ll do ice cream and roller coasters at Southend!”

     “Yay!” they shouted!

     Oh, my poor children! Little did they realise what they were saying yes to!

Beachcombing on the British Coast

Beachcombing on the British Coast

How do you get a family of four to walk around the coast of Britain?  This is one of the toughest exercises known to humankind.  It is no mistake that DHL offers no such service within their menu of logistical offerings.

What follows are the informed views of four people who, most weekends, do exactly this:

Nic (Aged 42) –  Equipment stockman, driver and mule, carrying anything and everything put into his backpack by anyone and everyone else.

Deb (Aged 42) – The person most likely to put anything and everything into Nic’s backpack.  The person most likely to insist we return home 10 minutes after setting out because she left something out.

Ben (Aged 11) – The person most likely to complain that out of everything put in his father’s backpack, including the thing that they just turned round and went home for, none of them have screens and none of them connect to the internet.

Catherine (Aged 11) – The person most likely to think that if everything was taken back out of the backpack, there might be enough room for her.

Nic - Map Reading at Botany Bay

Nic – Map Reading at Botany Bay

Nic’s Advice for Fellow Fathers (in no particular order):

1. Just do it. There is never a right time to start. Don’t think. Do. Get on with it or you will never start.

2. Ignore the remonstrations of your children. Once they actually get to the coast they have fun. Persuading them to go down there in the first place, however, is a weekly task. When they ask how far you are going to walk each weekend, think of a number and double it. Stick to the answer without any hint of humour.

3. Walkie-talkies – these were an idea of a friend of mine and they are worth their weight in gold. They give the kids a new lease of life after 10 miles or so. You occasionally pick up other random conversations between persons unknown and get to interject with complete anonymity. The kids absolutely love that. Especially when it’s the police.

4. Have a checklist of things you need to take with you. I never make a checklist and every week I regret it.

5. Buy a big backpack. Your wife will fill it. From skiing jackets in mid-summer to swimming trunks in the deep winter, it can all end up in there. It is best to just accept what is put in and get on with it.

6. Remember to take last week’s packed lunch remains out of your backpack when you get home at the end of the walk. Especially if they include banana skins.

Deb at Hythe Beach

Deb at Hythe Beach

 Deb’s Advice for Mindful Mothers

1. Put the cat out! We have to go back because I have left something in, not out!

2. Leave dry socks back at the car. Kids. Sea. Regardless of weather. Enough said.

3. Food. The night before. The morning of the walk. The mid morning of the walk. The lunchtime of the walk. The mid-afternoon snack of the walk. You get the idea. But no bananas – see husband’s rule no. 6 above.

4. We plan our route, view it on Google Earth, and if it looks being anything other than ‘get to the beach, turn right and keep walking’, we look at other bloggers who have done the walk and see what they did. And we still get lost. Just like they did.

5. Never pass a loo. You never know when you will see one again.

6. Ditto ice cream vans.

Catherine at Sandwich Bay

Catherine at Sandwich Bay

Catherine’s Advice for Dutiful Daughters

1. My first tip would be always help your mum make your sandwiches or she might leave something out (hopefully by accident – salad).

2. Always put your own clothes out because my mum has always put winter clothes out when it’s sunny.  I’m normally too hot or too cold which is not nice when you have to walk 15 miles then wait for a taxi.

3. I sometimes do a check list the night before because you can’t leave all your stuff with your parents to sort out and there is always something we need to go back for.

4. Bring a camera for your own pictures because there might be something you want to take a picture of but your dad doesn’t.

5. I prefer sports socks than walking socks because the walking socks are just too itchy to wear for a whole day.

Ben "doing what he does best!"

Ben “doing what he does best!”

Ben’s Advice for Surly Sons

1. Get woken up by mum when I’m really tired.

2. Drink and eat anything I get cuz I get really hungry.

3. Try not to throw up in the car (listening to Capital FM works well for me).

4. If I can’t listen to Capital then I bring my MP3 player.

5. Stuff myself at breakfast cuz I get hungry.

Hope Gap (Seven Sisters cliffs in the background)

The Maunder Taylor Family at Hope Gap (Seven Sisters cliffs in the background)

~~ There you have it! Big backpack; big breakfast; go! Good luck – only 7,000 miles to cover! ~~

My sincerest thanks to Nic, Deb, Ben, and Catherine for sharing their time, tips, photos, and fun with us! You too can join them on their excellent adventure at The Coastal Path: One family’s walk around the coast of Britain. ~Jody

Happy wayfaring!

Posted in Beaches of Great Britain and Ireland, Featured Guest Writer, Tallies & Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

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 »

Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted by Jody on May 11, 2014

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Dean K. Miller, author of And Then I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete.

 A Mother’s Patience

A mother’s patience is one of her most under-appreciated traits. It starts at the moment of her son’s conception, as she is the first to know that life has been created inside her. Though her love for the unborn child is strong and the bond of motherhood already formed, she must wait nine months to hold this unique miracle.

"Someday her son will become aware of the love, the nurturing, and the guiding."

“Someday her son will become aware of the love, the nurturing, and the guiding.”

She watches as he grows, withstanding sleepless nights of nightmares, his stuffy noses, tantrums and the scrapes and bruises. Someday her son will become aware of the love, the nurturing, and the guiding. And, finally, of the letting go. But she knows it is on his schedule, not hers.

As he spreads his wings and explores the world, the mother continues to wait. Whether it’s late-night phone calls, listening to girlfriend troubles, the lack of money or the feeling of not knowing where to go in life, she is there when called upon. Patiently she watches him, knowing in her heart that the choices are his, and sometimes wishing he would choose differently.

But wisdom, learned perhaps from her own mother, has taught her that the journey is not hers to take. Patiently, she watches from afar, understanding that life will teach her son the lesson he needs at the exact moment he needs it.

When he calls to express his frustration, she doesn’t try to undo the lesson, but instead helps her son capture the learning.

Then, the moment she has waited for arrives. The son has discovered the true source of his inner self and joyfully returns to her doorstep. With patience she listens to the moments of his life that brought him happiness. Subtly, she encourages his story to unfold, laughing silently at his follies and smiling brightly at his courage to face his fears. He tells her things he has told no one and knows his words are protected and safe.

Though it has taken decades, the bond of mother and son has grown to include a friendship which knows no equal.

Now they walk through life together, knowing their love between them transcends all boundaries. It is everlasting and it makes them smile.

Thank you, Mom, for allowing me to grow into myself, for patiently waiting all of these years for it to happen, and for accepting me each day along my journey. You are the magic behind the story of my life.

Thank you, Mom!

Thank you, Mom!

~~~

And Then I Smiled

And Then I Smiled

About the author: Dean K Miller is a freelance writer living in Loveland, CO. His work has appeared in Chicken Soup of the Soul: Parenthood, Torrid Literature Journal IV: MidlifeCollage.com and other online and print magazines. He returns to the beach and wets his toes as often as possible. Read more at: www.deankmiller.com.

“A Mother’s Patience” is included in Dean’s new book, And Then I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete, available from Hot Chocolate Press.

~~~

Posted in Featured Guest Writer, Pacific Coast Beaches | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

The Lightning Whelk, A “South Paw”

Posted by Jody on May 8, 2014

The whelk family is a rather large and far-reaching family!  It includes over 1500 species, and whelks are found in all seas from the Arctic, through the tropics and to the Antarctic. This means that on any given day our family can hope to find this family at the seashore.

The lightning whelk is a relatively common seashell which is native to the Atlantic coast of the United States from North Carolina to Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico to Texas. This predatory sea snail can be found in the sand from the near low tide line to water about 10 feet deep. They feed primarily on marine bivalves (clams, scallops, etc.). 

Even though it’s a somewhat frequent event, finding an empty lightning whelk seashell is always a delight for us! We’ve been fortunate enough to find numerous perfect, uninhabited specimens of the lightning whelk along the Gulf Coast beaches from Florida to Texas. We have also left a whole passel of them behind on the sand because they were either still alive, or they had become comfy little condos for hermit crabs!

Lightning Whelk

Lightning Whelk

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says: “Lightning whelks reach a length of 2.5 to 16 inches (6 to 40 cm). Their distinguishing characteristics include their off-white to tan or gray shell with narrow, brown “lightning” streaks from the top of the shell to the bottom. The shell is white on the inside. The animal inside the shell is dark brown to black. Lightning whelks are unusual in that they have a counterclockwise shell spiral (lightning whelks are usually called “left handed”).”  The related Perverse Whelk is also a “south paw” but has a heavier and stouter seashell.

Lightning Whelks from the Gulf Coast

Lightning Whelks from the Gulf Coast

“Like snails, the lightning whelk is in the class Gastropoda which means “stomach footed”. Gastropods are univalves (have only one shell). Hermit crabs often make homes of unoccupied lightning whelk shells. A lightning whelk leaves behind a trail when crawling. It is often easy to track them. The shell grows very quickly when the whelk is young as long as food is abundant. As it gets older, the shell grows more slowly. The color of the shell depends greatly on light, temperature and age. Older whelks have pale shells.” (TPWD)

Lightning Whelk Whorl

Lightning Whelk Whorl

In 1987, the treasured lightning whelk (Busycon perversum pulleyi) was appropriately honored by being designated the official state seashell of Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has a short, interesting article covering many details of this beautiful sea creature including its life cycle, diet, and ways this gastropod has been utilized by man through the years.

From our family to your family: Happy Beachcombing!

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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