Sand Dollars and Crabs at Avila Beach

IMG_8973Katie and I visited Avila Beach on our trip to Avila Hot Springs as our last adventure before heading home. It was one of the few things Katie really wanted to do that weekend. We arrived and found parking in the lot about one block from the small beach town’s main street.

We quickly walked down the main street’s three blocks and reached the far south end of the town where the shops end. We started back and this time slowly passed the ocean and beige sandy beaches and many shops. We occasionally walked in and out of some of the shops just browsing the small stores that looked of interest to us. Each had their own set of trinkets and little knick-knacks, from frames and key chains to shirts and beach towels. They were the kind of stores that you only find at a beach town and the kinds of items that allowed you to remember your summer vacation getaway.

After looking in the stores we headed down to the beach. The light brown, almost white sandy beach was a big difference from Shell Beach’s coarse sand, which hurt our feet. This beach was smooth and firm along the water’s edge, quite easy to walk on. We walked the beach from the pier as far south as we could go scouring for shells and rocks to take home. Suddenly I noticed one creature that I had seen many of in the stores on our walk down the street, a sand dollar. I quickly picked it up showed it to Katie. In the stores I had read about the Legend of the Sand Dollar or Holy Ghost Shell. How it resembles the Birth, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. I felt lucky to find the only one on the sandy shore that day.

As we got further from all the other people and more isolated I noticed little V’s in the sand as the salt water washed back to the ocean. I told Katie what they were, little sand crabs that stick their antenna out of the sand to catch food as the water rushes above them. Then without thinking much about it I reached down and picked up two handfuls of sand. The sand crab wiggled deep beneath the sand in my hand until it rested on my palm, feeling much safer down below the surface. I slowly let some of the sand fall from my hand and eventually it was exposed. Up close you could see it’s small round body, almost translucent, and little legs. It felt so weird crawling on my hand trying to escape to safety. After showing Katie I released it back to the sand where I found it and it disappeared faster than I ever imagined it would. Turns out they use their tails to burrow into the sand and can be completely submerged in less than 1.5 seconds

With our feet wet from the ocean we hung out for a little longer and walked back along the beach. As we reached the pier we tried to pick the quickest and easiest way to the street without burning our feet on the hot sand. We then headed to the car, it was getting late and we still had a long drive ahead of us.

As we drove out of the parking lot and to the freeway back toward Los Angeles we only wished we could have stayed and enjoyed this delightful small beach town a little longer and then we saw the strangest sight ever. A man, pedaling along on his bike with a gorgeous Blue and Gold Macaw riding on the handle bars. It was quite a spectacle and I tried my hardest to get a good picture of it. I wish we could have stopped.

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