MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rough Seas to the Islands

The week after the crazy week that took me from Vegas to Denver, I returned to the Pacific time zone for a week in Ventura County California.  The week took me from the the sun in the lower 70s to snow in Denver, to the 60's (in Denver - gotta love the weather there) to the 40s and rain, now brought me back to warmth and the 70's sun in California.  All LA traffic aside, it is not a bad gig to be sent to southern California.

After a full day of travel and a battle on the 101, I ate a very late lunch at Ventura Harbor, stopped by the National Park Visitor Center to buy postcards and check out island maps, then headed to the beach.  Instead of checking in and hanging out in a hotel room, I sat on the beach, listened to my favorite sound (waves rolling), and read my Kindle.  What a great way to decompress from a long day's travel and relax for a week of training and outreach.

While most of the week was occupied with work, I was able to de-stress at the Camarillo Outlets, take in a few meals with friends and colleagues around Camarillo, and watch the sunset over the Pacific at Ventura Beach.  Unlike the sun setting on the East Coast where the sun flashing green as it sets in the Gulf of Mexico, there is no flash over the Pacific.  Still, the sky is stunning with its pinks, orange and yellows.  Watching as the sun creeped down the horizon time seemed to speed up one the orb "touched" the water.  Before you knew it, it was just a sliver and then gone.  Braving the cold wind was completely worth watching nature's spectacle.

After a week of work, I wanted to take a day to take advantage of my close proximity to Channel Islands National Park.  I have been there a few times and visited Santa Rosa for a great hike and Anacapa when the California gull chicks had hatched.  The park, however, has quite a few opportunities for nature lovers on a handful of islands.  A great way to to relax - Channel Islands gets to up close to unique flora and fauna special only to the islands.

Accessible through Island Packers, a park concessionaire, the trip to the Islands are typically enjoyable.  You usually see dolphins, porpoises, gulls and other sea birds, and sea lions closer to the shore line.  My trip some-how magically aligned with the tides and Island Packers was offering their limited tidepool trip to Anacapa.  How amazing was that timing... I would suffer on a boat with 45+ 4th graders to get there; it is said that these tidepools are some of the most dramatic on the west coast (some say anywhere).  To add more excitement, it was grey whale migration season; the Packers had spotted whales on just about every trip... so this trip out there was going to be just incredible...

Well, it was supposed to be awesome ... I never got the trip I wanted.  No marine animals, no whales, no tidepools.  A major storm was actively rolling into the west coast and the waters were churning.  The churned so much that it felt that our transportation went airborne.  No wildlife sightings, and I am willing to bet that they sought calmer water.  The closest I got to Anacapa tidepool area was via my camera's zoom function.

Our boat did not even try to get close to the rocky island and instead rerouted to Santa Cruz (the largest island in the chain).  Being that I had never been there yet, it was a good choice; but for an island 4x the size of Manhattan, 2 hours did not cut it.   The sun was out, the island foxes decided to show themselves, and I was able to take a short hike and eat lunch away from all the children.  Walked around the cliffs, took in the spring flowers and meandered through the hills... the island's contrast is striking and beautiful.  (For those interested, pictures are scrolling on the right hand side under "pictures from most recent trip.")

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