Sunday, September 23, 2012

Camping at Sunset State Beach

We love this "every-year" experience of camping at Sunset State Beach on the edge of beautiful Monterey Bay with some ward friends.  For a few years now Julie and I have been arriving at the camp ground on Tuesday and spend the rest of the week mostly by ourselves.  After Labor Day the campgrounds are sparsely populated during the week so we have most of it to ourselves.

Being in this part of California we expect cool, foggy, damp weather most mornings and evenings.  This year it was cool as usual but the fog was minimal.  And what perfect weather during the day!

Click to make the pictures bigger.  Much more fun that way.

Setting up the tent

Stef called in the afternoon and wondered where we were.  Camping, of course, and getting ready to cook foil dinners.  "Wow! Just wait for Brady and me to throw some dinners together and we'll be over to eat with you."  It was an unexpected treat to have them drop in.  We had a good time with them that evening.

Checking out the beach the next morning, there was a lone fisherman in the surf.  Seagulls on the move.  What is the cue to make them all start flying at the same time?  "I cannot say at this time."

I was waking up from a short nap in the tent one afternoon, fascinated by the view of the blue sky and trees framed by the tent door.  Julie came walking up to see if I was awake yet.  I just had to snap this picture.  Very cool view.

The beach is about 6 miles from Watsonville, an area known for its hundreds of strawberry fields.  Just simply beautiful to look out over these well kept farms.

And lots of beautiful flora out here among the sand dunes.

Another fisherman making a great cast

Julie, the beachcomber

The high tide had washed some very fragile (and small) shells up on the beach.  Compare the sizes of these to the footprint.  Some detailed images here...

A sand dollar.  I love the symmetry on the top.  Here is some good reading for grandson Ryan:
Sand dollars have a rigid skeleton known as a "test."  The test is calcium carbonate plates arranged in a radial pattern.  In living sand dollars, the test is covered by a skin of velvet-textured spines; these spines are covered with very small hairs (cilia). Coordinated movements of the spines enable sand dollars to move across the seabed.  The petal-like pattern in sand dollars consists of five paired rows of "pores."  The pores are perforations in the endoskeleton through which podia for gas exchange project from the body. The mouth of the sand dollar is located on the bottom of its body at the center of the petal-like pattern.

This is actually a section of the inside of the bottom of a sand dollar.  It looks like it has some very intricate carvings, much like a carved piece of ivory.  There is actually a living organism in the shell that make this.  Incredible!

This is the top of a small crab shell.  The bottom part was missing.  Check out the random pattern of red spots.  This was maybe 3 inches across.

This is the underside of a male crab (don't ask me know I know).  It was about the same size as the one in the picture above

Don't know what kind of shell this is but we loved the colors and the patterns.

Just the right amount of wind for kite flying.

Crashing surf

Ray Anderson came on Wednesday and joined us for dinner.  He had a foil dinner and we had BBQ'd salmon.  No we didn't catch it.

Thursday morning we went to a relatively new museum in Santa Cruz (opened just two months ago).  Long name: Monterey Bay National Maritime Sanctuary Exploration Center.  No living animals but some cool hands-on displays and videos about sea life in Monterey Bay.  The best part was it is FREE.

Later that day in Monterey: sea otters have so much fun

This deer was right outside the Asilomar conference grounds in a residential neighborhood

Along Ocean View Drive in Pacific Grove: a Pelican

and a Cormorant

Surprise visitor: As we were getting to closer Monterey... we were wondering why all those people with binoculars were standing around looking out at the open sea... maybe whale watching, etc., all of a sudden flying in over the ocean was the space shuttle "Endeavor" flying over Monterey at about 1500 feet.  Spectacular!  It was making the rounds through several California cities piggie-backed on a 747 before going to it's final resting place at the California Science Museum in Los Angeles.  Wow!  Cheers went up from all over.  What a historic moment and we just happened to be there to witness it!

Saturday morning was our traditional group breakfast with a lot of our ward friends.  Pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, juice.  That's our young bishop (Brady Birt) and his wife (Amy) in the back cooking eggs.  About 25 people in all.  It was so much fun.


Kristen said...

Wow! Great pictures Dad. What fun! I loved all the beach pictures. So beautiful!!!!

Stefani said...

I LOVE it! I'm glad we got to experience part of it with you. I was trying to figure out how to get back there, but it was not in the cards. I'm glad you got to see the Space Shuttle. Lots of people around here saw it -- I was not one of them :(

Lindseys said...

Those are some pretty awesome pictures, dad. Your eye for composition is incredible. Sounds like you had a great time. It was cool that you could see the space shuttle fly by as well.