Thursday, June 30, 2022

Back to the Beach

 Waxing Crescent Moon

Shark bite update: the 62 year old swimmer who was bitten off the shore of Lovers Point in Pacific Grove last week is alive and is expected to recover eventually. He required 200 stitches and missed a severed artery by 2 millimeters, but in time he should be okay.

Yesterday I wandered over to Moss Landing and made two stops to hike in the sand and see what I could see at Moss Landing State Beach and Salinas River State Beach. By the time I got there in the early afternoon, the wind had picked up and I actually had to bring a jacket even though it was sunny and warm on the leeward side of the dunes. Near the harbor, casual seals and seabirds were taking it easy, bruh.

Windward it was nippy and choppy and the birds were a little nervous, edging their way toward the jetty.

After a shivering walk I decided to move to the beach just south of Moss Landing where I could hike the trail behind the dunes. I traded the blowing wind for deep sand for a little while, then I crossed the dunes and headed back toward the car. I used a different set of hip and leg muscles on the dune stretch, which I would pay for with newfound soreness later in the day. No matter, it was a fun and healthy workout. 

Salinas River State Beach is frequented by horses and their riders, but my timing was perfect. I was just getting back to the parking lot as several riders were about to depart their trailers for the beach. I don't have anything against equestrians or their mounts (quite the opposite, I have always found them to be friendly and responsible), but I was glad to have had the shore to myself for a while nonetheless. 

Halfway through the year, I am just a little bit behind my 2,022-mile goal. At 965 miles to date, I should be able to make up the missing mileage in the next two longer months. The June heat wave slowed me down four days in a row. Ugh, I can't take hot days any more!

Peace, Love, and Be Cool, Stay in School,

#2,022 in 2022

Thursday, June 23, 2022


 Waning Crescent Moon

Just when you thought it was safe...

Yesterday I hightailed it out of the heat wave that has made San Juan Bautista uncharacteristically sweaty and headed for cooling ocean waves in Pacific Grove. I found a good parking spot at about 10:30 a.m. a block or two from Lovers Point and mulled it over for a few minutes. Then I decided to do my loop walk clockwise through town to Asilomar and return along the beach. Little did I know then that this decision would save me from witnessing something very unpleasant. My guardian angel deserves a raise.

Passing by the PG Library, the Museum of Natural History, and my favorite park with a Class AAAAA basketball court, I wound my way around to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. I knew very well that this is the wrong time of year to observe any migrating Monarchs, but I like this little park and it's fun to sit for a minute on the butterfly bench nonetheless.

Continuing on Lighthouse Avenue toward the beach, I stopped to take a look at the old NOAA quarters, which, as I understand it, was recently defunded despite strong opposition from stalwart local Congressman Jimmy Panetta. I hope at least that the awesome murals don't get destroyed by some billionaire's land grab. 

Soon I was oceanside and yes, it was perfect. I walked over to Rocky Point before turning around to head back toward Lovers Point. 

There were lots of people on the trail, most of whom had oh-God-I-love-this-place smiles on their faces. It was sunny, it was wavy, it was splashy, it was barely 70. It was breezy, it was stunning, it was coastal California at its very best. I saw one elderly couple frozen in place, awestruck, clearly on vacation from some miserable, landlocked, drought-stricken prairie, beaming with delight, but unable to budge from their ocean view delirium. So I spoke my go-to snap-out-of-it-man line as I approached. 

"These California summers are brutal aren't they?" I said.

They looked at me for a second and laughed, with sunshine in their eyes, and moseyed on down the trail. I had saved two more wayward citizens from Asilomar shock. Don't applaud, just throw money.

I soon passed the lighthouse and the golf course and padded my way to the edge of town, still walking along the ocean, when I began to see Lovers Point ahead of me. It is Lovers Point, by the way, not Lovers' Point or Lover's Point. The name is actually a short version of the longer, now out of favor  name - Lovers of Jesus Point. It's a long story and I don't want to get into Methodist-bashing here. It wouldn't be very Christian - or very Ohlone -  of me. 

Anyway, at the tip of Lovers Point, which juts out into the sea at a loverly city park, there were tens of emergency response personnel, along with teams from the local television stations. It was then about 12:30 p.m. Evidently, right about when I had begun my walk at 10:30 or so, when I had decided to do the town portion first, a swimmer or surfer in the water just off the point, was attacked by a shark in full view of witnesses. Icky bad development for all. As described in the newspaper article attached above, three heroic people jumped in to rescue the poor guy at great risk to themselves. According to the latest news reports the victim is doing pretty well in the hospital, the beaches of PG are closed, and the shark is being sought for questioning. 

I am grateful for the rescuers' heroic actions, but I can only imagine the hysteria of the moment at that crowded location. I spoke briefly to a couple of emergency crew members as I passed through the scene. They were incredibly cool and calm - the guardians of the human experience. Walking through the park and around the crescent shaped cove toward my parking spot, I looked back. I couldn't even tell anything had happened.

Peace, Love, and Lady Luck,


Friday, June 17, 2022

10/17/1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake Epicenter

 Waning Gibbous Moon

On Wednesday, the day before Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors (YAYYYY!) and the Boston Celtics (BOOOOO!), I drove over to the coast to hike in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park near Aptos, CA. The weather forecast predicted a hot day, so my strategy was to walk amidst the redwoods and stay UV-protected. 

Holy Cannoli! (You either get that or you don't). What a fun hike! I parked at George's Picnic Area and walked the old railroad grade to the Porter House Site, then I zigzagged down the Mill Pond Trail to visit the Buddha shrine underneath the footbridge. I was heading for the marker at the 1989 Epicenter of the 7.1 M Loma Prieta Earthquake, the one that shook up the Bay Area during the World Series game in Candlestick Park between the Giants and the A's (aka the "Battle of the Bay"). 

Popping back up on the Aptos Creek Fire Road, I encountered a mother (Kristen) and daughter (Katie) who were also headed up toward the epicenter. They had been there before back when Katie was a Girl Scout and Kristen was her group leader. After a brief introduction, I fell in line a comfortable distance behind them, a procession of three generations climbing the gentle grade to the Aptos Creek Trail. From there, it was a short hike to the Epicenter with a couple of easy creek crossings to make it interesting. 

The Epicenter, of course, is not one specific dot on a map or footprint-sized place in the dirt. It's defined as a point on the surface vertically above the focus of an earthquake. In reality, it's more like a small area than it is a point, but the sign constructed by the State Park is useful to let anybody who is interested know about where all hell broke loose on the San Andreas Fault deep beneath the surface back in 1989. 

I have been meaning to hike up there for many years, so I was happy to spend some time standing near the sign and trying to imagine what it might have been like to be present when the EQ happened. Would I have been able to remain standing? Were the redwoods wobbling and swaying? Did trees and branches fall? Were there any ground surface breaks? Did forest duff puffing up into the air and dust falling down from the trees make it hard to see and to breathe? How long did the shaking last? How many and how frequent were the aftershocks? I stared at the trees, the amazingly strong, resilient trees.

There will be more earthquakes, that will be certain. Life goes on. The Buddha abides.

Peace, Love, and Holy Cannoli,

#2,022 in 2022

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove, California

 First Quarter Moon

I have been trying to conserve gas and hike the local trails lately, but two days ago I binged on a day trip to Pacific Grove. It's only 35 miles away, but what used to be an $11 trip currently sets me back $19. Oh well, it's better than going stir crazy.

Actually, it's WAY better, even on a day when the fog bank sat close to shore and the sunshine was intermittent. An afternoon of waves and sand at Asilomar State Beach was just what I needed. This beach is only about a mile long, but it is part of the Asilomar State Marine Reserve and it is linked by walking trails to Point Pinos, Lovers Point, Pacific Grove, Hopkins Marine Station, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey itself, and all the communities north to Marina. It is custom built for wandering for hours by the surf and rocks and tide pools. I parked across the street from the Asilomar Conference Grounds. Within minutes I was on the beach.

The air temperature was a chilly, breezy 57 degrees F, as is the case frequently in this neck of the grove, so I was glad to have an extra layer under my windbreaker. Once I got moving, I didn't even notice. I didn't see any mammals this trip other than my fellow walkers, but the pelicans, cormorants, and gulls kept me entertained in the airways and I got a few glimpses of little crabs and anemones in the tide pools. The Santa Lucia granite with its tiny "books" of plagioclase feldspar held my interest when I clambered around on it to see the pools.


The beachfront homes along Sunset Drive are appropriately unobtrusive for the most part. Some of the newer ones are borderline sprawling, but most are not. I can usually ignore them, but there is one small house that always catches my eye. It's a modest little one-story place, nothing fancy, but it reminds me just a little tiny bit of the first house I ever lived in down in Anaheim. There is hardly ever anyone there. When I win Lotto, I am going to make the owner an offer he or she cannot refuse. Then I will be snug and smug as a beach bug in a bungalow rug, with an occasional warming fire in the fireplace. There is a small guest house in the back. Call first, I may or may not be in the mood for visitors. 

Peace, Love, and Beach Dreams,

#2,022 in 2022