Tag Archives: beach

Spooner’s Cove in Montana De Oro

IMG_8973On our way home from Morro Bay State Park Katie and I stopped by Montana De Oro State Park. It is only about 15 miles south of Morro Bay. With the girls still with us I had found a beach in the park that they were allowed to run around on and enjoy with us, Spooner’s Cove.

Once we finally found Montana De Oro State Park, the campground, and the visitor center or what used to be the Pecho’s family ranch house we headed to the beach just below. We parked in the lot in front of Spooner’s Cove, leashed up the girls, and headed out to check out the beach. Punky was ecstatic. She barked and barked as we trudged through the rough white sand until we reached the water’s edge where she continued to bark until Katie finally picked her up to calm her.

At the water’s edge the sand became coarse rocks, sea glass, and shells about the size of mini chocolate chips. We jumped to the rugged rocks to explore the tidal pools. Slippery with algae we cautiously moved out toward the sea slowly as we looked at bigger and bigger pools. We found fish, snails, and small crabs living within the crevices.

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It got so slippery that we decided to head back. As I jumped back to the beach my foot sunk deep into the coarse sand and the water rushed into my sneaker. Not discouraged by my now wet shoe we continued to explore, walking along the shoreline in the bay. There were two scuba divers in the water and another man fishing along the shore. The birds were scavenging a fish skeleton and Frankie couldn’t resist charging toward them and sending them flying away. She absolutely loves running along the beach.

We examined the south side of the cove, took some pictures of the interesting rock figurations and formations and explored a bit more. If we didn’t have the girls we might have explored even further, but our time had run out. We needed to get home for a concert. We headed back to the truck with smiles upon all of our faces happy about the day, explorations, and sights we had come across.

Spooner’s Cove is fun for everyone. I can only imagine how much I would enjoy it in the summer. Laying on the beach, swimming in the gentle waves, exploring the rocks and trails along the shoreline, and diving among the fish. Seeing everything the area has to offer was all I could think about while I was there. It seems like a perfect summer vacation spot.

McWay Waterfall Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

IMG_8973Katie and I were hiking on our camping trip in Big Sur. We had just finished exploring all that the Ewoldsen Trail had to offer and had made it back to the parking lot with a few minutes left until sunset. I really wanted to show Katie the McWay Waterfall so we headed towards the ocean.

We easily found the beginning of the McWay Waterfall Trail just past the ranger’s station at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. We walked down the short trail dirt path and through the tunnel that goes under route 1 stopping at a T right before a cliff. We turned right and started up toward the overlook.

As soon as we could see the waterfall we stopped. We never made it to the end of the trail as the sun had begun to set and there was a crowd of people standing at the overlook. We took in the sunset, the small cove, and the 80 ft waterfall that fell onto the sandy beach below from where we stood. It was a gorgeous site to see. Possibly one of the best sunsets ever as the sun streaked stunning pinks, oranges and reds across the sky.

The McWay Waterfall Trail is a short .5 mile trek. The trail is great for all ages and every ability level. With a small incline, the cool ocean breeze keeps the walk comfortable even on hot days and there’s a bench at the end if you need a rest before you make your short walk back to the car. Parking is free if you can find a spot on route 1, otherwise park in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for $10.  The waterfall itself is one of the most popular images people see when they think of Big Sur. Almost everyone that has travelled up route 1 has stopped to see it as it’s a must visit place if you are ever in Big Sur. It’s right up there with the Bixby Creek Bridge.

The North Windmill of Golden Gate Park

IMG_8973After seeing a post on Facebook about the Dutch Windmill located at Golden Gate Park I knew I had to check it out next time I went to San Francisco. One afternoon while Katie and I were and headed to the Sutro Baths we drove right past it. I mentioned that later if we had nothing to do we should go back and take a look. The last morning we were there while we were waiting for the Aquarium of the Bay to open at Pier 39 we headed over to the north end of the park and took a few minutes to see the majestic windmill.

After a little research I learned that the Dutch Windmill was constructed in 1902. The interior holds amazing paintings, but over the years insect and water damage has made this gallery unvisitable for the public. The windmill was also originally used to pump water but today, even after all the restoration, it can no longer do this. It’s not a complete loss. The blades still move and there is the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden, which is quite beautiful, right next to it so you’ll want to explore the area for sure.

The Dutch Windmill is right next to Beach Chalet and is about 75 feet high. With the tree cover growing around it, it’s easy to see the top with the blades from the beach but difficult to see as you get closer. We walked into the beautiful garden around the base and all the way up close super where we could read the plaques cemented to the walls. We looked up to the windmill’s top and could truly see how immense it is. Standing right next to the base it is huge and the long blades that swirl around in the wind are magnificent.

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If you’re planning on going you might want to check out the Beach Chalet Visitor Center as well. Unfortunately when we went it was closed, but I’m sure that they much information about the history of the beach and park. Next time I’m exploring the Golden Gate Park I will be sure to stop in there and the South Windmill to learn even more.

A Walk on A Mexican Beach

IMG_8973I went for a walk on the beach while I was in Mexico to check out the area and see what was around. It was quite an eyeopening experience to see how differently people lived there.

I started by heading toward the point break that the guys had been so keen on surfing. Along the sandy shore was an amazing dirt cliff and just outside our gated community, up on those cliffs, were houses. Many were old and coming apart, literally falling into the sea as the cliff wore away underneath them. I could only hope that no one lived in them anymore as they did not seem very safe, but I couldn’t be completely certain.

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The cliff turned into a man made wall to stop the ocean from wearing away the dirt and as I continued along the sandy beach the soft sand it turned into a field of smooth rocks. They were like land mines and I had to carefully watch my steps as I continued to trek because sometimes they would shift and slide under my feet. My pace quickly slowed. Eventually the rocks turned into big coarse volcanic stone, which when wet was even more slippery. I climbed over them noticing that the beautiful ocean shore line had completely changed and the houses on the cliffs were more recently built and maintained. Eventually I reached a point where I could no longer walk without climbing down a cliff and walking through water. I decided then to turn back.

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I headed back to our gated community and reached our stairwell. I thought about walking up and decided to continue to the cliff on the other side instead. I had noticed a “Surf” graffiti wall in my surf session earlier in the day and wanted a picture of it. I walked along the shore in the soft flat sand. By the edge of the cliff were rocks that had been rubbed smooth by the tides of the ocean. I reached the sign and continue until the rocks became jagged and sharp again. This time however there was no volcanic rocks beneath. All the rocks had previously been part of the cliff. I noticed a way to climb up the cliff and reach the top, but decided against trying it. It looked very steep and there was a rope to help you reach the top. I paused for a moment and watched a man and his son climb to the top. I continued until I could go no further. It really was a beautiful beach, full of many different sights to see and places to explore.

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K58 – Surfing Puerta Del Mar

IMG_8971While in Mexico on my surf trip we went surfing a ton. When we first got there we geared up and headed straight to the beach break right out front of our house. The waves were about 3-5 ft and were steadily coming in. We charged through the white water to the line-up and once we got there we hung out waiting for a wave with some shape that we could ride for a bit. Occasionally an even bigger outside wave would approach and we would all paddle our hearts out to get over it. Often it would petter out and then reform again closer to shore. We each caught a couple waves and then decided to head in for some burgers at the other house.

The next morning we woke up early and headed out again. The waves were a little smaller, 2-3 ft and it was probably the best surf session of the trip. The wind hadn’t started up yet and most of the sets had some nice shape to them where you could catch a little corner either breaking left or right. We stayed out for a long time and our other trip buddies joined up with us as we drifted north, closer and closer to their set of stairs. We each caught several waves and hunger started to call our names back to the house for breakfast.

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We had heard the guys talking about a point break far off at a house that you could see from our beach break that they surfed the following day and that morning so we decided to take a walk south to check it out in the early afternoon. We walked the long tedious trek over sand, small round rocks, and volcanic boulders to arrive at the point break. It was a beautiful break that reminded me of Malibu, a slow mushy wave that goes right and rarely closes out in front of you. It was quite shallow at low tide and looked very treacherous and difficult to get out into the line-up. You had to either walk and paddle over sharp rocks or carry your board across volcanic rock and carefully time a jump into the line-up. On top of that, we couldn’t figure out how you got out of the water after you were in surfing. You couldn’t go back the way you went in. It would be too hard. (Later we learned there are stairs to walk up further down along the beach.)

Since the tide was so low we decided to walk back and have another little afternoon session at our beach break. We padded out, but the waves were mainly walled up and closing out too fast to get a good ride in. Instead we spent a little time just catching white water rides to the beach.

The following morning we had one more surf session at our beach break again. The waves were big again, 3-5 ft and didn’t have great shape. As the morning progressed I watched the waves from the white water get larger and larger and close out faster and faster. Occasionally they would form up again on the inside and I would be in the right place for a short green ride to the beach. Eventually we called it a day and headed in for some breakfast and packing to leave our beautiful oceanside paradise.

Next time, I plan to be confident enough to try my hand at the point break as that looked like the best place to surf within walking distance from our house. Gotta get out and surf more and now!

Flecks of Gold at Torrey Pines State Reserve

IMG_8973I spent another weekend in San Diego and this time I decided to check out Torrey Pines State Reserve. Rumor has it that there is a short hike to a small cove which I was unable to find. I parked my car on S21 and Carmel Valley, got my ticket stub, and headed down the path to the beach. The path was very easy and short, though steep as I came to the railroad crossing. Just a little bit further and I arrived at the beach with dark black sand along the rocks.

I walked straight to the ocean, took off my shoes and allowed my toes to feel the cool refreshing water. I stood there looking both ways, surfers scattered along the break. The waves were super mushy, but looked super fun and I debated asking a nearby surfer to borrow his board and paddle out into the water fully clothed but decided against it. Next time I will have to bring my surfboard.

I headed south along the water’s edge and started to encounter many tiny gold flecks in the sand. I wasn’t sure what they were and stopped for a moment to investigate. After further analysis I learned that they were tiny mica flecks which are rarely found in beach sand. It was so beautiful I tried to capture the flecks with my camera, but the picture just doesn’t do them justice.

       

I continued along my journey and came across a saltmarsh called the Los Penaquitos Lagoon. The lagoon is constantly changing due to the rise and fall of the tides and life inside the lagoon depends on that. Often, the channel leading to the ocean fills, harming the ecosystem within the marsh and has to be reopened. Today the channel was running freely. There was a lady fishing and a pelican swimming all within 50 feet from each other. It’s beautiful when people and wildlife can coexist so peacefully like that.

I walked up and over the bridge, coming down along the rocks on the other side. I walked a little farther until it became uncomfortable to walk any further barefoot. The beach had become filled with small flat rocks, perfect for skipping. At that point I decided to head back to my car, wishing I had a little bit more time to continue to explore.

After getting home and doing a little more research I learned that there are multiple hikes in that little area. I know that I will soon return to surf, hike, and possibly find Black’s Beach.

Salt Creek a Salton Sea State Recreation Area

IMG_8424I was searching for the main Salton Sea State Recreation Area and instead stumbled upon Salt Creek. It looked like such an alluring beach from the road. Birds covered the water’s edge and I couldn’t resist spending a little time exploring.

Unlike other state run facilities there is no person here to take your money. A $5 fee for day parking or I think it was $10 for camping is required based on the honor system (and maybe an occasional ranger?) I took an envelop, filled out the card and deposited my money into the slot. I was so giddy by feeling so unrestricted and free. This beach is too cute!

IMG_8395Salt Creek was pretty empty, with a scarce trailer or tent set up along the parking area and a few lone strangers walking the beach. As I walked closer to the water I was intrigued by the strange crumbling and crinkling sounds the ground made under my feet. It had gone from packed, dried, cracked dirt to brown sand to white crushed fish bones to little white circular bubbles all within about 20 feet. My footsteps sunk deep into the bubbles, which I can only believe were vertebrates and I stopped to see if my weight had crushed any as I passed. So odd, they seemed to just roll out of the way. I reached down to examine them further and realized they were quite fragile, able to be crushed by a simple squeeze between my thumb and forefinger. Baffled, I continued on toward the water.

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As I got closer to the water’s edge and the many beautiful birds brown muck rose from beneath the bubbles in small patches. I accidentally stepped in it and it clung to my shoe like goo. It was quite gross and I tried to use some bubbles to partially wipe it away, even more off-putting. I continued onto the water’s edge and while I don’t bird watch or know the different names of the those that inhabited that stretch of beach it was still quite a sight which I greatly enjoyed.

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I sat there watching the birds sit along the water’s edge and glide above the surface sometimes diving in with a subtle splash for a while and eventually headed back to my car. I remembered people saying that the smell of the Salton Sea was horrible, wretched, and the worse that had ever smelled. Maybe I went at a good time or maybe my nose isn’t as sensitive as theirs, but honestly while I was there it really smelled no worse than a day at low tide on the Old Saybrook docks where my childhood summers were spent. The whole time I was wondering, where is that awful smell everyone spoke of, but deep down  was extremely happy that I didn’t have to experience it. Score one for me!

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Bombay Beach Ruins

IMG_8338In the morning on my first day of my Salton Sea trip I excitedly drove up the west coast and made my first stop at Bombay Beach. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, but I reached a sign that clearly labeled Bombay Beach and drove into the little town toward the water. I came to the only entrance which allows you to drive to the shoreline and made my way up the slight incline. I parked my car stepped out and took it in. I was there, Bombay Beach, and if I hadn’t already known I would have been surprised by it being in ruins.

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It is hard to imagine that this beach used to be a popular vacation spot along the Salton Sea in the 1950’s and 1960’s. With resort complete with a pool and a golf course, docks that reached out into the sea filled with sailboats and motorboats, and a beach cluttered with beach umbrellas and people sunbathing and swimming it must have been an amazing place to go. Now, the resort is completely gone, the dock has been removed with only the pilings left and it would be an extremely rare sight to see anyone sunbathing on the fish bone covered beach or swimming in the brown goo bottom covered sea. Bombay Beach is just bare, stark and uninhabited.

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It is a fact that every year the Salton Sea shrinks and its salinity increases. The pilings along the shore at Bombay Beach are a clear sign of both. The water seems to just reach the edge of them on the day I visited. Maybe with some rain it will rise a bit, but I can’t imagine the skies producing as much rain as would be needed to bring the water back to its original height. I was also intrigued by the white residue that has been left on the pilings by the sea and can only believe that they have been calcified by the salty water.

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I moved away from the shore and into what I can only call the ruins. You can find anything there. The area is scattered with tires, toilets, a piano, and items that the residents clearly left behind because they were too big to take with them. The most captivating ones are the trailers that look like they have been engulfed by the ground and an old rusted and crushed boat. There are also foundations of buildings and a few that are almost still standing except without any walls.

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I finished my exploring and headed back to my car. As I drove through the small town on my way out I noticed that there were many small rundown beach houses and trailers. I wondered if the people lived here when the community was thriving until now, what a story they would have to tell.

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