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Exploring Santa Rosa Island (Channel Island National Park)

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To me, Santa Rosa Island is synonymous with ‘paradise on earth.’  The white sand, pristine beaches, turquoise water, undisturbed and unlittered land, potential to explore and discover new areas…it felt like an exotic island lost in time. My only wish is that I had more than the allotted 3 hours to explore this magnificent island! After the 3 hour journey on boat to get to Santa Rosa, we were more than ready to explore…

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Some practical details first…

  1. No restaurants, stores, shops on the island.  Everything we brought was all we had. Lots of beef jerky, bagels, trail mix, and other small and lightweight non-perishable snacks. And of course, plenty of water for everyone. Heavy but necessary. I suppose you can get some food from the galley on the boat (see my post on the boat ride to the island ) but if you are sea sick like me, I didn’t have an appetite until I got to the island.
  2. One can camp on the island for $15 a night but you must be well prepared for the elements. For us, we have not yet trained our kids to camp outdoors, so we did not have the option.
  3. It was incredibly windy and sunny (no real shade anywhere) so dress in layers. Sunscreen and hats were crucial.
  4. We picked up what we brought and we didn’t take anything with us. This is protected territory and we hope to preserve it for future generations. We aren’t allowed to carry plastic grocery bags, nor feed any wildlife. I’ve read about island foxes but did not see one that day :(. However we saw lots of birds and sea lions.
  5. Pay attention to the departure time.  I’m guilty of pushing the limits but who can resist exploring in paradise? My ticket stated 3PM departure time but when I ran to the boat at 2:50PM, I was the last one on! The boat does not go to Santa Rosa Island everyday, and they do account for everyone but I needed to be consciously aware of the time. I might’ve missed the memo that we should be ready to board by 2:30PM. :0
  6. I had wanted to explore Lobo Canyon. It’s a 9 mile hike, defined as ‘strenuous’ and I knew we would not finish in 3 hours. So my plan was to hike to the base of the Torrey Pines and enjoy the beach. However, as soon as we got off the boat, I realized that 2 members of my family were barely getting over motion sickness, so I told them let’s just enjoy the beach and take it easy. I’m glad we did! 🙂

Our boat had maybe 60 guests going to the Island that day, and more than half were researchers so as soon as we arrived, they went on their separate way while the rest of us scattered. On such a huge island, we didn’t see much of our group until the very end! I’m not sure how many on our boat were camping out on the island, and I would’ve asked if I wasn’t so intrigued by our boat ride over to the island (see my post on the boat ride here).

We basically had the place to ourselves and we heard mostly birds and the sound of chirping bugs on our hike.  Later, along the beach, the pounding of the waves and whistling of wind was deafening but welcomed. It was nature unleashed.

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After we got off the boat, the ranger briefed us and then we were free to roam. I was busy getting the kids situated with their snacks so I didn’t hear everything, but my hubby was paying attention.

To get to the beach, the ranger told us to take a left after we reached the campground, which is about 1.3 miles away.

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Here (in the above photo) I found steps leading to a rusted ladder going down to the beach. I wasn’t sure if we were allowed to go but I looked at the ladder and knew my kids would not manage the climb down or back up easily, so we decided on the hike. Plus, it allowed us to explore the island a bit!

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To the side of the trail, there were some wooden fences that had lichen and moss (I think) growing on it. I thought its contrast with the trees nearby was interesting. 🙂

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We walked by an old barn. I’ve read that the Vail and Vickers family used to own a ranch here and there are supposedly horses left behind. We didn’t see any that day but we also didn’t wander off very far inland.

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The white buildings above was where we found the ranger sitting and eating his lunch. We made sure we were still on the right path to the beach (it felt like we were just wandering around and there weren’t many signs). And right behind was the only toilet I knew of on the island. I was so happy it was a flushable toilet and I loved how clean it was!

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In the photo above, I couldn’t stop but wonder if that might be a lone Torrey Pine sitting on top of that hill. These special trees are only found in two places in the world; here at Santa Rosa Island and Torrey Pines in San Diego (see my post here on the Torrey Pines hike). The base to the Torrey Pine grove was a little ways ahead, and as much as I wanted to hike to it, the beach was calling my name…

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As we walked along, we enjoyed our views. The ocean was to our left, and nature was everywhere. I heard the humming of insects and the sound of dirt beneath us as our feet trudged through it. Then a welcomed sight: wildflowers! In May, there were still some left! I remember in April when we went to the Channel Island Visitor Center in Ventura (see my post here), the rangers mentioned that there were wildflowers everywhere, including on the islands, thanks to this year’s rainy winter. I was so happy to see that we could still find some here on the island in May!

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The hike was more of a scenic walk, but I couldn’t help but wonder why we couldn’t just cut to the left and go straight towards the ocean. It was getting a bit warm by then and I really had to keep myself from taking that ‘shortcut’ several times. And then I realized why: we were walking around and to the right of an “Active Airstrip.” I saw the sign in the above photo about a mile in. Glad we didn’t cut over! No planes were landing that day, but just in case, I didn’t want to have to run out of the way :0

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Finally after what seemed like more than 1.3 miles, we reached the campground sign and made a left. The sign indicated “Beach Access” and we all ran down the hill towards paradise…

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I can’t even begin to describe my joy when I saw the beauty of Water Canyon Beach, so I will just let some of my favorite pictures do the talking…

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My family and I enjoyed a nice picnic and then we stepped into the water. It was a bit cold but not too bad. And it was beautifully clear! My kids pulled out their sand toys and happily got to work. I could’ve just watched them play and enjoyed these views forever but I knew we only had 3 hours. By then, it was closer to 1:30PM. I kept looking over to the right side. From a distance I wondered if the pile of rocks was something I could climb or duck under. Could it lead to a cave? Or another hidden beach? I ached to explore, and my hubby said he’d watch the kids but I would need to be back no later than 2PM. “Ok, don’t worry, I’ll just run back…” I told him if I got too far.

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Barefoot, I walked quickly along the beach. I adore the feel of sand between my toes. But I carried my hiking boots with me just in case I needed them to climb something. The topography to my right changed a bit and pretty soon, I saw a big gathering of sea gulls. What were they picking at? As I got closer, I realized there was a rapidly flowing stream from up above, and the water led continuously to the beach. There were probably critters the birds were picking at in the stream…

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And then there were some really neat sandstone bluffs. Layers of layers of history I bet were piled in between. I wondered how far back in time this went? I marveled at the vertically growing dudleyas growing on the rocks. Amazing! I could never get dudleyas to grow in my succulent garden but they seem to do so well here in nature…who wouldn’t, here in paradise? 🙂  I looked in one crevice wondering if I could squeeze in and if it might be a tunnel…it wasn’t so I continued forward.

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And at last, I reached the pile of rocks I saw from a distance. I looked all around. Sadly, I could not go around it without swimming in the ocean. And I didn’t dare climb it because I could crush the barnacles growing on the rocks, but also if I fell and injured myself, no one would hear me or even know!

natureinspiredmom.sr34.jpgI got some awesome pictures though! There was a little hole where I suppose a small animal could hide out overnight, but definitely not a tunnel.

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Satisfied, I started making my way back. It was 1:53 PM, so I sprinted all the way back to my family. It was definitely hard to look straight ahead…I kept looking to my right as I ran…this perfect view was evanescent to me, as was the pounding of the waves, and the salt in the howling wind that was making my hair fly about in every direction.

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I made it back to my family by 2PM. My kids refused to go. First, they must race up and down, roll down the white sand dunes, and make snow angels in it. It was really cute and I don’t blame them!  Then they told me they must make one last sand castle. And then of course, we had to clean up the sand toys and pack up. My youngest reluctantly dragged her sandy toes over to me. She hid her shoes somewhere on purpose so I needed to look for them. After what seemed like a long time, we were ready and made our hike back towards the barn and then the pier. Actually by then, we were all running back! We saw our boat cruising its way to the pier and we weren’t going to miss it!

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We were on the edge of the pier when I walked by that rusted ladder again. On a sudden impulse I decided I had to go to the beach below now! No regrets! So, I scaled down that ladder and put my feet down on the soft sand and looked around. What a fantastic view! Layers and layers of sandstone bluffs and even more beach to the right of the pier! But really, it was time to go. (Well, now I know for next time, I will go to the right of the pier to explore!) Reluctantly, I climbed up the ladder quickly and ran the length of the pier.

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By the time I got to the boat I was breathing heavily. It was 2:50PM. That was definitely a fun filled 3 hours worth of exploring in paradise! I guess I was the last one on the boat but absolutely no regrets! I LOVED my time on the island. I took a last long look at Santa Rosa Island; I wanted to let this image of the island sink into my memory forever. Like the memory of the Painted Cave/sea cave (see post here) that I saw later on the journey back by boat, the perfect images of this island were precious and evanescent. I was actually sad when the boat took off a minute later but I promised myself I would return to paradise again soon!

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

 

Adventurous Boat Ride to Santa Rosa Island

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Santa Rosa Island was my dream destination…and the boat ride was more than half of it. The trip there is about 3 hours one way on boat so just a little under 6 hours total. So much happened on the boat ride I decided it deserved its own blog post :).

The above photo is of my first view of our boat the ‘Islander’…we arrived at Ventura Harbor at 7:20AM, checked in, went to the car to get our luggage, and got in line to board by 7:35AM. By then there was a nice line of people. We boarded, put our backpacks down, and the kids explored the boat. There was an enclosed main lower seating area with a galley, an outdoor seating area upstairs, and a couple rows of benches outside by the back of the boat. The only seats left were by the front of the boat in the enclosed seating area so we took those (we found out much later why those were the last ones left :0). By 8:03AM, we heard the low rumbling of the engine below us, and we took off soon afterwards. Imagine our excitement! The kids were talking nonstop about riding a boat and they were abnormally quiet as the boat began to move. Then there were lots of smiles and nervous foot tapping. I will never forget their happy little faces. 🙂

Below is a view of our boat at Santa Rosa Island around 3 hours later at 11:20 AM. A lot happened in between so I have to remind myself although it seemed like the next day, it was all in one day! By the way, we chose Santa Rosa Island (over the other closer islands) because my family loves beaches and the promise of turquoise water and white sand was too hard to resist!

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And one of the other reasons why I chose this 3 hour journey on boat is the possibility of seeing the Painted Caves/Santa Cruz Island (see photo below) on the return trip.  I really hoped to kayak through this magnificent sea cave initially but learned that with the rough sea winds and unpredictable weather, one needs to be an experienced sea kayaker. I’m not, so a boat ride through the cave is fabulous…and my family gets to see it too! I braced myself that if the weather went south, we might have to miss the cave, but I kept my fingers crossed the entire way!

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A Quick Summary of Details:

  1. MUST bring: motion sickness medication, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, water, non-perishable food, good shoes, camera, money, ID
  2. Trip to Santa Rosa Island is a little less than 6 hours total round trip. Be prepared to arrive 45 min ahead of scheduled departure time and return to the pier to board the boat back 30 min ahead of the scheduled time (ours was 3PM)
  3. You might see sea lions, dolphins, whales, bald eagles, and the Painted Cave, depending on weather and wildlife conditions, and the boat will stop and the captain will give you good history and details.
  4. The ride may be bumpy on the way there…be prepared. Sit in the BACK if you can, or ride up front and keep your eyes on the horizon.
  5. There is one easily accessible flushable toilet on the island and there are 2 flushable restrooms on the boat. There is a galley for simple food and drinks on the boat.
  6. Ask Island Packers any questions ahead of time if you can…they are super helpful. I found out the boat for this particular day does not stop at Santa Cruz Island so it was a direct trip over to Santa Rosa which cut down on the travel time. 🙂

 

Anyway, going back to the start of the journey…

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This was my view from the boat right before we took off. The Island Packers Cruises office (website here) is located at the Ventura Harbor, near the Channel Islands Visitor’s Center. They were awesome at answering my many questions about the boat ride and Santa Rosa Island itself. We called the night before and day of to make sure the wind/weather conditions were favorable. They were very attentive and patient with my many questions, and provided more useful information than I ever anticipated. They were also super helpful throughout the entire journey, as I will soon find out.

And we were off! We left the harbor behind and my kids and I went outside to enjoy the sights. They loved seeing the trail of white ‘bubbles’ the boat left behind.

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Walking around the sides of the boat was fun too. But it soon became a bit too bumpy, so we took the kids inside.

I’ve been on ferries to San Francisco from Jack London square, and the boat ride to Catalina Island, but I will honestly say this was perhaps the choppiest waters I’ve ever experienced. Perhaps it was the day, or just because we were going that far out into the ocean, but it soon started feeling like a rollercoaster. I realized we were sitting in the most volatile place indoors…up front. No wonder those seats were the only ones available! With every wave, I felt my stomach jump. I looked at my hubby and he was turning a bit pale. Although he had taken some Bonine ahead of time, I passed him my remaining bag of sea sickness medicine and ginger chews. The younger kids were luckily fine. I gave them all half a Dramamine (for kids) beforehand.

A few weeks ago, the lady at Island Packers told me that kids usually don’t have as much problems with sea sickness as adults, (something to do with the inner ear) and Bonine (mezclizine) was more effective. But it’s difficult to know if a person will suffer from motion sickness and taking meds will make me sleepy, so I decided to take just half of the kid’s amount. The attendants on the boat told me to sit on the benches in the back of the boat or go up front outside and I took my eldest child there. Unfortunately my younger kids loved where they were and since they did not get sick, they wanted to stay put. So my husband and I took turns walking around the boat to monitor them and then go either to the back or front of the boat to avoid feeling nauseated.  This was the hardest part of the trip. Every time I walked back in to check on the kids, I was thrown around by the waves. Even though I was holding onto tables, railings, anything I can hold onto, I still walked like a drunk person and ended up almost on someone’s lap at one point.

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Before long, I figured out the best place for me was up at the very front of the boat. My kids and hubby did not want to follow me so I went alone.  I found that my nausea was much better if I could stand up, face forward, and focus my sights far away. And then I saw the first island…Anacapa to the left, and we were approaching Santa Cruz Island to the right.

But suddenly the boat stopped. There was a whale sighting! The captain announced it had been 5 minutes since they last saw the whale surface and it was a matter of time before it was time for it to come back up again. And then there it was!!!

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I was leaning out the side of the boat  (by then I went back inside to bring my kids out to see) and nearly dropped my iPhone into the ocean so my one shot was not great, but you can see the whale blowing out water in the encircled area! I took a video as well, and it’s too bad it doesn’t show up well but in real life, we saw the gray whale on the surface of the water briefly before it went back under.  You’ll have to take my word for it, but we saw a humpback WHALE!  I heard my child excitedly saying “Wow, I see the grey whale, I see it!!!” over and over again in my video. That was completely unexpected and amazing!

And then we picked up speed again. I sent the kids back in and encouraged them to sit on the back benches where things were more stable. Things got super bumpy and standing up front I felt that I was jumping the waves at high speed. It was exhilarating and I forgot all about my nausea. I was holding on so tightly my knuckles turned white. It was extremely cold and windy, and even though I had my heavy fleece jacket on, I was shivering but it was better than being inside or the back of the boat. I could hardly hear anything as the wind was loud and whistling by my ear, but luckily the captain had a microphone so I could hear what he was saying when time came.  I realized much later, my face was dripping wet. Through all the excitement and wave jumping, I didn’t realize the water splashing and condensation getting everywhere.

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I also had the best view of everything! I saw a pod of dolphin-like animals darting in and out of the water. The captain explained they were sea lions working as a team for food.  Whatever they were hunting was causing a feeding frenzy as I saw them flying in and out and in circles. With one hand holding onto the boat and another on my iPhone, I managed to take these photos below, but I could not zoom in on them in time. It was a miraculous sight. My kids were right behind me enclosed in that seat up front, so they could see me pointing at the sea lions. Later they told me they saw every detail…it was probably great they were up front but not outside because they would’ve been really cold!

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Soon we were passing by Santa Cruz Island…it’s the biggest island so there was a lot to see.  Different topography, valleys, mountainous regions, rocks dating back to the Jurassic era (as mentioned by the captain), and sea caves!

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The hardest part was coming up next. The crossing between Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island is known to be the windiest and roughest, and the captain told us up front to hold on. I held on with both hands so did not take any photos until Santa Rosa Island started coming into view.

And there it was…beautiful Santa Rosa Island. I saw the sandy white beaches from a distance, then a grove of trees (Torrey Pines), sandstone bluffs, and the clear beautiful water.

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As soon as we approached the pier and docked (around 11:20AM), a very curious seal swam over and greeted us. My child was the first to spot this little guy and was so charmed by him! Truly a special experience.

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The water below the steps of the Pier appeared to be green and there was kelp floating along. We could see the pristine beaches to the left of the pier (photo below).

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And to the right of the pier (see below).

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[We spent about 3 hours on Santa Rosa Island and it was magnificent! I will write about the island in my next post because it deserves its own blog post. So here I will proceed with the return trip from Santa Rosa Island].

It was about 2:55 PM when our boat left the Santa Rosa Island Pier. I was a bit sad to leave, but I know we wouldn’t have made it overnight there. No hotels, no stores, no restaurants. The kids were hungry, even though they had been snacking all day, so we needed to make it home in one day. So off we went.

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Less than an hour into the journey back, it got very cloudy and foggy. I couldn’t see very much ahead…and I started to think that perhaps we would miss the Painted Cave altogether.

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But I decided to stay where I was and had my eldest child join me to avoid nausea. Actually the ride back was much more smooth, so we were all feeling better. But just in time, because the weather cleared up and we started seeing more of Santa Cruz Island again…and sea caves!

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Soon enough, we were at the mouth of the Painted Cave!!! I was pinching myself in disbelief at this point, and my child and I had front row views of this truly amazing cave. The captain slowed the boat down and everyone quickly gathered behind us for great pictures.

We were told that the cave actually wasn’t painted but these were natural colors from the rocks, algae, and lichen. There were birds flying around the cave, guarding their nests above. This cave goes a quarter mile in and is tall enough for our two story boat to enter. And in we went!

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I am a sea cave lover and this was on my bucket list; this particular cave is noted as one of the largest in the world! And this was indeed surreal and better than I ever imagined. I gawked at the different colors I saw…and the textures on the incredibly high ceiling (over 100 feet), as the captain mentioned that this was where parts of the Pirates of the Caribbean (Deadman’s Chest) was filmed. I need to watch that again for sure!

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As we entered slowly, I saw that it led deeper and deeper into more ‘chambers’ and it started getting darker. The boat kept going until we were almost in pitch black so I couldn’t take anymore photos. People actually kayak through this and I wonder how they would see where they were going! Well if I ever become an experienced sea kayaker, I’ll have to find out!

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From my other posts, many of you know that I always look at the distinctive shape of a sea cave, so here it is! This was taken pretty far in, so the opening is smaller, but I will never forget it!

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And then we were back out. People clapped…truly truly a magnificent experience! 🙂

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You can’t see it well in the above photo, but this is where we saw a bald eagle roosting! I spotted the majestic bird camouflaged in the rocks and as the boat passed by, it spread its wings and took a small circular flight. I couldn’t believe we got to see a bald eagle as well! My kids were overjoyed!

We enjoyed many more views of Santa Cruz Island and suddenly it got foggy again. This was when many started taking naps on the boat…including some of my kids. I wasn’t going to miss anything so I stood up front looking for anything in the ocean. Sure enough, my eldest and I saw a pod of dolphins swim by happily.  Two jumped and arched about 6-8 feet in front of us. It was incredible! I saw very distinctly that they were grey and white. One of the bulls came close and stayed by the port side of the boat and swam for awhile there. The crew told me these dolphins love to surf and being on the side of the boat is ‘surfing without the board,’ and it makes them feel powerful. I believe he said that they vie for that position and privilege to be surfing with the boat! Unfortunately, I thought I was videotaping this whole experience, and later realized in my excitement I pushed the button twice so it stopped recording after 1 second. 😦 Well, at least my eldest and I will always have the memory!

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We were maybe 1.5 to 2 hours into the trip when the boat slowed down again. There was another whale sighting! But this time it was very foggy, so visibility was low. Again the stopwatch was started so we knew the whale was going to have to come to the surface to breath. I was standing at the front edge of the boat and I remember I started holding on very tightly with both hands, because right about then I heard the low drawn out moaning of a whale (like the way Dory speaks whale language in ‘Finding Nemo’)…I was a bit scared because I thought any second now, this whale might pop up and if it was too close to the boat…will I fall? We waited and waited. And then nothing. Maybe the whale did resurface and we couldn’t see it in the fog. The captain drove the boat around a bit and we waited some more. No luck. And no more whale noises. So we continued our way to the Ventura harbor. But boy, that did get my blood pumping awhile there!

We made it back to the Ventura Harbor by 5:15PM. We were more hungry than anything else so off we went looking for a good meal. I’ll admit it’s the first time I was completely exhausted in a long time but in a good way. This was definitely one of the most memorable days in my life so far! 🙂

Below I conclude with a photo of the pier going to Santa Rosa Island…because the story doesn’t end here. My next post will be about this incredible island so stay tuned…

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

Container Gardening: A Mini Fruit/Veggie Garden

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Here is a roll call of the plants in this section of my garden: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, apples, goji berries, pomegranates (Parfianka), Roger’s Wild grapes, King guava, sweet peas, nasturtium, tomatoes, herbs (sage, mint, thyme, borage), peppers, surinam cherries, and Improved Meyer’s Dwarf Lemon. The perfect spring weather this year has inspired me to start a mini fruit corner in my garden. Since I have limited space and tough clay soil, I chose to try some container gardening. I searched high and low for dwarf and ultra dwarf trees and researched how to keep trees small and productive. Many of the plants don’t require much space and do well in containers, and the others I’ve been told might need transplanting in a few years, or fertilizing in existing pots with some pruning. We will see how things grow; time will tell!

I selected this location because it gets a good amount of sun and in extreme heat, I have an umbrella that can easily cover most of the area if needed. This area is just right outside my kitchen so I have direct access to herbs and fruits if needed while cooking; and it’s also next to my water hose so watering is a snap! The space is tight, but it works at the moment.

Below is my jalapeño pepper plant with a larger chiliteppin pepper plant behind. They are surrounded by a few herbs (sage, parsley, basil).

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The top two photos are of my ultra dwarf Ein Shemer Apple tree. I found this at a plant show this year and thought I’d give it a try. There’s already two tiny apples forming!  The next two photos are of my Golden Dwarf Peach tree. This little tree is loaded with tiny peaches already (I lost count at around 16 or so)! I had to keep it netted and covered from the birds and possible rodents that may be eyeing the peaches.

Below is a photo of part of this fruit section. There is another dwarf peach (Honey Babe) and dwarf nectarine (Nectar Babe) next to it hiding behind all the netting, and a dwarf blueberry plant. The Roger’s Wild Grape is growing happily up the metal trellis (might be hard to see hiding in the back; more photos later), and below them is a row of strawberry plants that I began bare root 2 years ago. We’ve gotten quite a bit of strawberries already from this row of plants and my kids say it is definitely sweeter than store bought!

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Same with the blueberries below…this plant is so productive, my kids get their little baskets out after school and go picking for fresh blueberries. I just have to make sure the netting goes back on all the way so the birds don’t get to them.

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Above is a baby pomegranate tree…Parfianka type; I was told this was the best tasting species, but it will be awhile before I will get to find out!

Below is a goji berry plant. I was told this can grow into a huge monster so keep it contained. We will see how many transplants I will need to make…

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Above is a photo of the dwarf Honey Babe peach tree…the tag says it self pollinates but produces better when other peach trees are around. So I have the dwarf Golden Peach and dwarf Nectar Babe (nectarine tree).

Below are my baby surinam cherry plants, ultra dwarf Ein Shemer apple tree, and Roger’s Wild Grape (already producing clusters of tiny grapes).

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The above photos are of my Roger’s Wild Grapes and Siskiyou blackberries. Both are growing well so far. Don’t worry, that’s my protective rubber snake! I read somewhere that birds might be scared off by rubber snakes, so I’ll try this and see if it works. Everyday I move the snake around so it’s a bit more realistic. 🙂

Below is the other side of my mini fruit plant area. I planted some sweet peas (the scent is wonderful!) and nasturtium below the mini windmill. Tomatoes and herbs are next to it.

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And here’s the backside to that section…I have my King Guava tree next to my blackberries.

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And here I’ve got a lemon or two coming along (above photo). Below are my various tomato plants (blueberry cherry tomato, yellow pear tomato, and Supersweet Cherry tomatoes) along with basil and other herb companion plants.

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And here is my view as I step out from my kitchen. Everything is easily accessible and I can monitor for bugs and other potential pests. 🙂  I added a few roses in the area to add some color but also to be rewarded with a whiff of strong rose fragrance whenever I tend to the plants. Not to mention I just love the appearance of lavender/purple roses. Below is Angelface Rose…I enjoy admiring and smelling the strong citrus fragrance right before I go back into the house.

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Share Your World-May 15, 2017

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Here are my responses to Cee’s Share Your World questions for this week:

How many languages do you you speak?

I speak primarily English, but in a pinch I can speak Chinese and Spanish. My family traveled a bit when I was young, so I have lived in both Asia and Latin America and picked up some of the languages.  At one point I was quite fluent in all three, but it has been too long. I also took many years of French in college but since I hardly ever find anyone to practice with, I can hardly remember it. Once in awhile though I will hear a French phrase or French movie dialogue and I’m always surprised that l understand a bit of it.

What are you reading, watching, listening to, eating?

I’m currently rewatching Downton Abbey. I’ve watched all the episodes already and am quite sad it all ended, but I really enjoy learning about life in those days; definitely makes me appreciate some of the modern advances! But because I enjoy antiques and vintage things, I do appreciate the intricate detail and gardens in the series.

What was the last photo you took with your phone?

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Ok, I had to include the last TWO photos I took. I included both because for such a rare plant, I wanted to show the details of it from the side. I was really amazed at how ruffled and “cabbage” like the plant looked! The flies were buzzing around this stinky plant, all going towards the inside of it (deep into the purple part); apparently the stink is to attract  bugs to pollinate this impressive plant.  This ‘Corpse Flower’ only blooms once a decade, and for 24-48 hours, and I was fortunate enough to see it today!

Actually I had no idea this corpse flower plant was in bloom until a dear friend of mine texted me about it, and being the plant enthusiast I am, since I happened to be in the area already, I rushed over to the Fullerton Arboretum as soon I could. There was quite a crowd; including 3 local news vans and reporters! And it sure was stinky; to me a cross between rotten radish/broccoli and trash. And then the surprising part of it all? I was on the news! Actually I can’t find the clip but my friend who happened to be watching the news took a snapshot of the clip and sure enough there I was looking intently at the plant.

What is your favorite time of day?

Definitely the morning! I love the start of a day, especially the cold in the early morning of summertime. It’s my time to pray, reflect, go out in the garden, and enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week I was grateful for a wonderful and relaxing Mother’s Day after a super busy week. This week is super exciting I almost can’t sleep!  I am looking forward to:

  • dancing in a parade choreographed to one of my favorite songs
  • celebrating a milestone birthday AND
  • possibly exploring a deserted island and whale watching. I hope I’m not jinxing myself by writing about it already but you know I’ll be blogging about the adventure if it happens! 🙂

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Pirate’s Cove Beach/Corona del Mar

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For Mother’s Day, my family let me decide where I wanted to go…and of course I wanted to explore a beach! This one had rocks to climb, a cave, and beautiful views.  We had been nearby several times before…at Roger’s Garden, Sherman’s Garden and Library, and Fashion Island, but we never explored THIS particular beach and I’m glad we finally did!

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Pirates Cove Beach is in Corona del Mar (see map here). We saw gorgeous views from the top (Lookout Point on Ocean Blvd, amongst the fancy beautiful homes) but decided to pay for parking below at the main lot because we saw the big flight of stairs. Our kids could probably climb down with no problems, but I wanted them to save their energy for some rock climbing! 🙂

 

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Above is our view from the main parking lot to the right as we entered. We saw interesting rock formations right away. My kids and I could not resist and climbed it with excitement. We might have gone 30 feet up when we started seeing the beautiful ocean views. A few of the areas were a bit steep and slippery so watch your step, but it was well worth it.

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To get down, we had a bit more rock scrambling to do, and then a very short flight of stairs. Then we arrived at this beautiful cove. In the photo above, to the right, one can see the cave, and a beautiful home perched right on the cliff.

We made a beeline for the cave and explored it…

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As we entered, the entrance got smaller, and I ducked my head down to see how far it went. My kids ran in without much trouble. There were some orange peels in there so people were here earlier. To my right was a small space enclosed by rocks with a circular ‘window’ like view towards the beach. It would’ve been perfect to hide out here but I could smell old urine in the area, so we left. Time to play in the waves!

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The photo above is my view looking out of the cave. You could see the small flight of stairs we climbed down and the cliff above that we climbed to get here.

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There were other ‘caves’ as well along the beach and people were sitting in it to get away from the sun. What a perfect place to hang out and watch the waves!

But our favorite place was this little wall made from stacked rocks and overlook next to it. This area was to the left of the small flight of stairs coming down from the rocks. The kids played in the sand while we enjoyed the views.

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Time flew by quickly. Before we knew it, suppertime was upon us and it was getting a bit chilly. So we climbed back up the rocks and headed for the parking lot. Here were some more views of the rocks and beach views before we left.

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I’m so glad we got to explore this beautiful beach! It made for a relaxing and fun Mother’s Day outing!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

Reflecting: Iridescence and Lighting

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For this week’s Photo Challenge: Reflecting, I thought of my recently completed mosaic piece. It’s very interesting how different lighting changes the look of the piece dramatically.  I incorporated perhaps TOO many details in a small space and it turned out a bit more abstract than I envisioned.  The top photo on a white background and dim lighting might make it look like a fish on top with unknown other images below. But with light shining straight through, the mermaid and turtle become more obvious. The last image was taken with better lighting so the iridescent glass pieces in the background pop out.

In the photo below, I just love the iridescence reflected in the pond. This was taken at the Fullerton Arboretum (see post here) before they cleaned it out.  The last time I went I noticed there’s less of that iridescent sheen (cleaner and clear), but more reflections of the trees and leaves in the water.

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Roses in My Garden

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Purple and lavender roses…possibly the best smelling and most exquisite roses I have ever met. They say purple roses symbolize enchantment; in this case I was definitely enchanted.  I was at a plant show a few weeks ago (South Coast Plaza) when I saw my first lavender rose and I never thought I would grow roses in my super sunny garden (I have mostly succulents), but these were too beautiful to pass up!

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Above is the lavender Blue Girl hybrid tea rose. I don’t really see much blue in it, but I do see tinges of silvery grey in it at times. The petals are absolutely perfect in every way.  Just the right amount, and velvety in texture. I LOVE the strong citrus and classic rose scent in this one. When I first brought this home, my plant loving kids could not stop sticking their noses in it…and I don’t blame them! The smell is most intense I find in the early morning, before the sun and wind diffuses everything. The outer leaves get scorched in the sun a bit, but otherwise it holds its perfect form well.

Next is a photo of the floribunda ‘Intrigue.’ I wanted something darker purple to contrast with the lighter lavender rose above. This one was definitely the winner. Multiple roses cluster together in varying shades of purple. It seems the younger roses are darker and mature into a lighter magenta purple. The smell is just as fabulous…just the right amount of citrus and classic rose.  The leaves on Intrigue are glossy and outlined with a dark purple, which I find quite spectacular. The best part: it supposedly does well in heat, and we will soon find out. Of course, I would give roses partial shade in California anyway, but it’s good to know it can take some heat.

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Below are some photos of my miniature roses:

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I always like the ‘fire and ice’ ones and the classic pink ones. I’ve grown these for a few months but they are not fussy so I treat them like annuals. They have done pretty well in this lovely spring weather, but the only drawbacks are that they are small and don’t have any scent.

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And of course, here’s my wild rose: Lady Banks. Her scent is an extremely light lemon. I must admit, I’m not a fan of white roses. It does go well with my shabby chic garden, but I don’t know how big this one will get on my arch/arbor. So far it has not been blooming well in comparison to the tea rose and floribunda.

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Below are more photos of my new favorites: Blue Girl and Intrigue.

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And here are photos of them in my garden. One is in my potted urn, and the others are waiting to be planted. I might keep them in bigger containers as I read that they are less susceptible to disease that way and I can move them around until I can figure out the best location for them.

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Above is a photo of my shabby chic trifold I’ve had in my room for some time. After I planted the roses in the potted urn, I suddenly realized maybe I’ve had my inspiration for years right in front of me and finally acted on it.

I’ll have to admit…I’ve been spending WAY too much time in the garden. Between hiking, family outings, gardening, and the daily grind, it has been a struggle to keep up with everything. But in a good way as I’m loving everything I’m doing…I just need to really carve out time to write about it all :). More garden posts are coming because I have started a mini dwarf fruit section in my garden. But I’ve been researching how to plant roses, learning about possible mildew, rust, blackspot, pest problems, and wondering how everything will do, especially when summer comes and beyond. Anyone with experience with roses? I’d appreciate any insight in the comments below 🙂

Thanks and have a wonderful day! 🙂

Share Your World: May 8, 2017

These are my answers to Cee’s Share Your World questions for this week.  I love reading about fellow bloggers’ worlds and preferences!

When you’re alone at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot? 

Mostly I’m barefoot about 98% of the time and 2% of the time in socks. I’m only in socks when it’s cold and even then they get kicked off within an hour. I have bad OCD when it comes to shoes…if it comes in the house, I scrub down the area.  Maybe because I see my kids eat off the floor 🙂

What was your favorite food when you were a child?

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Any dessert. Chocolate, cake, ice cream, you name it. I wish I could eat more sweet foods but as I’m getting older my body cannot process them as efficiently. Sometimes they even taste too sweet to me now all of a sudden.  The above picture was a cake I made a few months ago from scratch for a birthday; I started cooking more so I can control what goes into the desserts we eat. So I only enjoy these on occasion now.

Are you a listener or talker?

Both! I listen well, but I also think better when I talk things through. I took speech and debate back in the days, so I love having people listen to me (but only if I have a good point). But it’s a balance…I always feel that I need to add to the conversation without taking it over and I also don’t want to just be sitting out and nodding to what someone has to say.

Favorite thing to (pick one):  Photograph?  Write? Or Cook? 

Photograph! If I go out without my camera I feel a bit funny. Life is too short not to capture the moments 🙂

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week, one of my kids received an award for her essay and she was honored at the district and the city level.  It’s always a treat for me to see kids recognized for their hard work. This coming week, I’m looking forward to Mother’s Day Festivities.  I’m especially looking forward to some good family time. 🙂

A Trip to the Redwoods

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Redwoods in Southern California?! Definitely and it’s amazing! I have to admit, the hike is not shaded, so bring a hat and plan to go early, but the difference in temperature once we entered the redwood patch was quite welcomed! We felt like we entered a different world and it was quite magical.

We made this trip about 3 weeks ago, when my kids were on Spring Break. Even though we started early, the direct sun made it feel warmer than it really was (low 70s) and my kids stopped frequently for water breaks. Luckily there were a few benches along the way. The hike is so short (about a mile) that it’s more of a nature walk and it is quite pleasant otherwise.

We entered through the Carbon Canyon/Brea side of the Park (see map here). This park continues on into parts of Yorba Linda and Chino Hills. I wanted to visit the redwoods for quite awhile, but it had been ‘closed indefinitely’ after all the rain this winter. Part of the Carbon Canyon Park includes the Brea dam, so when it rains, it’s definitely a low point and prone to flooding. So imagine my joy when I found out it was finally opened again!

Below is a view near the trailhead. I love this view towards the trail…one can’t really see the redwoods yet, and it’s amazing that just a short walk later, it appears out of nowhere.

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I visited the Redwoods previously in the summer and and it was very dry and mostly brown. So I was very happy to see the wildflowers and green everywhere I looked!

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At first I thought the yellow patch of flowers below were sunflowers but I was told that these are the invasive mustard plants that were crowding out the wildflowers. I know there are efforts to control the spread of these plants, but it’s awfully difficult. At least though, it’s a more beautiful view than the plain brown/dry vegetation and dirt in the summer.

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If you peek through the trees, you can see a little lake. Carbon Canyon Park also has a lake along with various play structures and picnic areas. I promised the kids we’d go there after the hike.

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Below, this was our view through most of the hike. Very pleasant and beautiful. 🙂 But be sure to stay on the trail because there was a good amount of poison ivy growing along the sides. The kids had a field day pointing out all the signs warning about poison ivy/oak.

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Above is one of many benches along the way. The kids chose to eat their granola bars here and rest their legs. This location made for some pretty nice family photos.

And then, we saw the Redwoods!

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It was absolutely amazing. I’ve seen Redwoods up north, and though these are not that mature, they are every bit just as grand. Especially since it’s so dry and hot in Southern California. How did these trees manage to survive? The answer is underground irrigation. When we walked into the patch, our shoes got a bit damp, and there were some slightly muddy areas. I forgot to take a photo explaining it all, but it’s pretty neat.

I think I took more photos of the views above and all around instead :).

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There is definitely a sense of peace and calm as I stood admiring the trees. If we were quiet enough, we heard the rustling of leaves from above and birds chirping all around. The ground was soft with bark mulch and I smelled dampness and wood in the air. Only remnants of light were filtered through the tall trees and we appreciated the transformation into this mystical world. It felt even more magical because of the difference in temperature outside the patch; almost like an oasis in the middle of nowhere.

After a nice long rest break, we headed back. On our way, we saw the dam from a distance. We could’ve taken that way back, but the kids were in a hurry to go to the play structures, so we skipped it this time.

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I took another look at the greens and yellows surrounding us, trying to remember it all. Come summertime, the color will be all gone. Luckily we were able to see this before it disappears. And the redwoods? A treat anytime! 🙂

Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

 

Danger Signs

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Whenever we go hiking or exploring the great outdoors, we inevitably come across danger signs like the one in the above picture. This was taken on the way to the tide pools from the second parking lot at Cabrillo National Monument (see original post here). And it’s a great reminder because sometimes in the middle of paradise, one can forget how unstable cliffs are or how big waves can suddenly splash up and startle someone, especially right on the edge.  Below is an example of that…a few moments ago, someone was standing on the very edge of that cliff and moved away just in time! Nature is unpredictable, so we do our best to stay cautious while enjoying its beauty.

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Here is another danger sign, this time on top of a sea cave near the La Jolla Cove (see post  here. The cliff had slippery and uneven slopes on all sides, so I didn’t dare go to the edges.

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The photo below was taken at the beginning of the trailhead for Nojoqui Falls (see post here). Here the danger was from rocks falling…sure enough there were rocks on some parts of the trail that looked like it had fallen. Luckily none were actively falling the day we were there.

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We are used to seeing danger signs for mountain lions and rattlesnakes, especially when exploring California. But I did not expect one for seals/sea lions at the beach! Definitely good to know though, as others got super close to the seals/sea lions for a selfie. These sea lions sure look cute and were very calm just napping on the rocks. You never know though!natureinspiredmom.sj3.jpg

Thanks for reading! 🙂