My Quick Voyage East

Airplane

Over Memorial Day weekend I was lucky enough to make a quick trip home to see my parents on the East Coast. Unfortunately I found myself in a tough spot with an unruly (aka super drunk) passenger sitting behind me. As much as I wanted to get to the East Coast as  fast as possible, I’m grateful that the pilot decided it was unsafe in the plane and we made an emergency landing where this passenger was arrested. I was one of two victims in this situations, and it truly was my first time feeling like a victim. It’s not fun. Even thinking about it now is upsetting and I’m doing my best to block it out. It’s never good feeling violated and trapped in the sky. But, that is behind me and my weekend continued once I finally made it out to Cape Cod. 

Landscapes

This whole ordeal cost me most of Friday (out of a 3 day trip) giving me late Friday night, Saturday and Sunday to be with my family. I did my best to put the days events out of my mind and really enjoy my trip. It started with a delicious belated birthday dinner for me at Marshside in Dennis, MA. Followed by a homemade cake made by my mother with love, and a night of boardgames!  

BikingwithDad

On Saturday, I awoke to partly cloudy skies, but it didn’t ruin the day! My mom and I made a visit to the beach and in the afternoon my dad and I took a nice ride on the bike path. 

Cape1

It was so pretty, even with the gray sky. 

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The bike ride was followed by a big family meal out with my Aunt Chris, Uncle Doug and cousins Julie and David. It’s been so long since we’ve been all together and it was such a fun time. 

Cape3

Sunday morning was rainy, which delayed our kayaking plans, but it allowed for awesome reading nook time! There’s nothing like doing the crossword, sipping coffee and watching nature outside the window. It’s how I want to start all of my days. 

My good friend Henry (you might remember from HERE) made a long trip out to Cape Cod to share lunch with me and my parents. What a fun reunion. I think it even had to do with the clouds lifting, which made for excellent afternoon kayaking weather.

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We headed to Bell’s Neck/West Reservoir where my Dad and I kayaked around the lake while my mom did a loop on the walking path. 

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Dork. 

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I’m not a birder. At all. But you have to appreciate that while kayaking around you’re seeing rare looking birds flying/perched all around you. My dad is a birder, so he was in heaven.

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“THIS ONE’S SO RARE!” 

KayakingWithDad

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After doing a loop, we decided it was time to head home to get ready for my last meal on the Cape. My parents love to do dinner on the beach, since one of the local beaches doesn’t close until very late (midnight?). They suggested we get fresh fish from Seafood Sam’s to-go and take it with us picnic style. 

Cape9

Sorry for the bad image, but isn’t this set-up awesome?! Oysters, scallops, and onion rings with a view of the ocean and lit by candle (well electric candle anyway). What a treat! Once the sun set, people started shooting fireworks off down the beach, so we even got a show. The clouds subsided and once the stars came out it was perfect for star gazing and we even had reclining beach chairs. Images couldn’t capture how calm, beautiful and relaxed the whole night was. I wish I could bottle that up, It made me think of how little I see stars, which is so sad.

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Monday morning it was time to get up early and begin my trek home. After my bus arrived at Logan airport and hour+ behind schedule, I found out my plane was also very delayed. The one positive is that I got to see Fred Armisen also heading to NYC after spending the weekend in Martha’s Vineyard for Seth Meyer’s wedding. After a lot of prayer and running, I ended up making my layover despite all the delays. 

 

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The Channel Islands: Ventura Harbor

— As you know, I’ve just had an amazing time exploring the Channel Islands (specifically Santa Cruz Island) and can’t wait to share my trip with you. It’s best if I break it down into the four parts that make up the trip: Getting There, Kayaking + Setting Up CampHiking the Island, and Ventura Harbor. —

Part IV: Ventura Harbor

If you’re looking for a fun day trip, but can’t commit or pay for the trip out to the Channel Islands, come spend the day walking around the Ventura Harbor. When we came back to the mainland, despite being crazy tired, we decided to walk around and explore before our trek home.

The boats, the blue sky + water created fun reflections.

We had to stop for a dinner at the popular Andria’s Seafood. It’s the type of seafood shack where you order at the counter and wait for your number to be called. I got the Mahi Mahi burger. They have all the fried classics too.

After such a big meal, we had to walk around to settle our stomachs before sitting in the car. Above is the Fishermen’s Memorial, which is dedicated to the residents who have passed at sea.

Color fun 🙂

Above is a boat B+B, which we nicknamed “murder boat” (in all fairness, I’m sure it’s a great place to stay).

The sun started to set sending warm colors throughout the sky. Such a beautiful dramatic sky.

It was time for our weekend trip to end. After the last photo was taken, we said fair-well and made our drive back into Los Angeles. We made great time (considering it was a Sunday night). If you’re planning this trip and have any questions, email me! I love mail.

The Channel Islands: Hiking the Island

— As you know, I’ve just had an amazing time exploring the Channel Islands (specifically Santa Cruz Island) and can’t wait to share my trip with you. It’s best if I break it down into the three parts that make up the trip: Getting There, Kayaking + Setting Up Camp and Hiking the Island. —

Part III: Hiking the Island

Our morning plans included mapping out our hike for the day. We had a 3pm ferry to be on, so we had to be mindful of time. We were crazy ambitious, as we planned not only the green marked hike out to Potato Harbor, but we had hoped to loop along Smugglers Road and then back to the campsite via Scorpion Canyon Loop Trail…. yeah that didn’t happen.

I must admit, that I didn’t have a good nights sleep. The wind was hallowing and I was worried my tent would blow apart or worse, a branch from the tree we were under would fall on us. Basically I was up all night worrying, so come sunrise I had pretty low energy. That and we didn’t bring any caffeine. I was in need of coffee… real bad.

We had our packed breakfast of champions (a peanut butter sandwich and some snacks) and then packed away all our gear into the food locker.

Then we began our trek along Potato Harbor Road. The dry rolling hills to our left were a sharp contrast to the blue skies and water on the ocean side.

Eventually this road (which is basically a fire road) levels out as you walk along the plain to the edge of the cliffs.

Finally our walk along the dry hills culminated at the edge of the world (or so it seems). While I took the above photo, we could hear the sea lions barking far below.

Almost at Potato Harbor. If you are making this trek, continue until you can’t go any further. I feel bad that a couple was walking along with us and they decided to try a new path while technically never reaching Potato Harbor. They were maybe 20 ft from it, and they missed it never getting to see the next several views.

Isn’t she beautiful? This bay/beach is only reachable by kayak which explains how pristine and untouched it is. More and more sea lions were barking away, probably swimming with delight. I hope in another life I get to be a sea lion on the Channel Islands.

Once you reach Potato Harbor, the entire loop back is along the cliffs. You’ll take 100’s of photos… as you can see I did. Narrowing which photos to share with you was VERY hard.

I could live right here.

The above photo is the view looking back toward Scorpion Rock (the left little island above).

 

I love the colors on the island. The browns and yellows of the rolling hills of dried grass with the bright blue sky and blue-green waters. These colors make for a great paint color scheme. Nature provides the best color schemes.

You can see from my photos, we only passed a few people the entire hike.

Once the hike loops back toward Scorpion Anchorage you get a great view of Scorpion Rock (on the left).

We headed back to the anchorage where you can see a wide view of the beach. Also note the red and yellow kayaks on the right of the photo. This is where the kayaking day trip launches from.

Once we reached the valley floor we investigated the historical information on the island.

In addition to a model of the grounds, there are many 3d representations of what life was like on the island long ago. They have a visitors center setup with many videos explaining the history of the island as well as their efforts to save the animal+plant life.

After learning about animals we walked back to our campsite and stumbled upon these fornicating butterflies. Oh how funny you are nature. (We hope it was consensual.)

With our last remaining hour we laid out by the water and awaited our ferry back to the mainland (see our ferry above). All trips must end with reality.

We waved goodbye to Ranger Tim and Cathy, as they watched our ferry depart from the dock. And off we went back to Ventura.

I’ve added an additional post next, exploring Venture Harbor!

The Channel Islands: Kayaking + Camping

— As you know, I’ve just had an amazing time exploring the Channel Islands (specifically Santa Cruz Island) and can’t wait to share my trip with you. It’s best if I break it down into the three parts that make up the trip: Getting There, Kayaking + Setting Up Camp and Hiking the Island. —

Part II: Kayaking + Setting Up Camp


(map provided by the Nation Park Service)

You can see from the map above, we really had a full day of kayaking (and I’ve got the sore muscles to prove it). We chose Channel Island Outfitters as our kayaking company, and they were excellent. As challenging as it was, our kayaking group really ranged in age and abilities and yet there were zero complaints. They really accommodated everyone well. We started by heading toward Cavern Point and then looped back to see Scorpion Rock, and if anyone was too tired to continue there was a spot where people had the option to end their day (or go snorkeling), but our whole group kept at it.

As I mention in my previous post, we already met our guides Ben and Phil on the main land before we boarded the ferry. Once on Santa Cruz Island, we followed them to their kayak station where they gave the group the ranger talk about the island.

Above is Phil going over the rules of the island, and giving an intro lesson to kayaking. Channel Island Outfitters provided all of the gear (lifejackets, wetsuits, kayaks, different water jackets incase you’re cold, paddles etc) and even had a storage lockup for all of our gear. No quarters required for lockers, as it’s a giant container they lockup. The only thing that is suggested, is that you bring water shoes (mine were $10 at Kmart and were perfect) and a bathing suit that works well under a wetsuit (the smoother and less-frilly, the better).

Once the safety talk was completed, we got into our gear and the kayaking began. You can see the weather was still overcast (which is why I opted for the extra jacket) but the water was actually perfect for kayaking. The water was pretty calm and a comfortable temperature.

Here we are above heading toward Cavern Point. They took us through many caves and tunnels. There was always the option of passing on whatever we didn’t feel comfortable with, but the guys gave us excellent instructions before each cave and it was fun to test out  our new kayaking skills. I should note, I’ve kayaked only a handful of times in my life and felt totally comfortable doing everything they suggested. Our group was quite large, but with two guides (one in front and behind) I was always within earshot of one of them. They have a plethora of knowledge when it comes to marine life. Both Phil and Ben had such a deep knowledge of the island (and even science in general) that this was a very informative experience.

Above you can see we were exploring caves while hanging out with sea lions. Nearby were several curious harbor seals. While the sea lions were loud and clearly staking their ground, the harbor seals are very curious stealthily creatures who were quietly watching us. Kayaking with seals and sea lions, how cool is that?

Ben and Phil also gave us a lesson about seaweed and its common use in many everyday  products. I even tasted the seaweed skin! It tastes like salty apple skin.

The colors, even on a cloudy day, were so beautiful. Look at the golden browns and blue water. It was really something special.

Fellow blogger AsHerWorldTurns, took the above photo of me (she also took many of the photos you are seeing posted from the kayaking trip). Between the GoPro and the underwater camera, she got us some great photos. I strongly suggest you only bring waterproof cameras on your kayaking adventure. I did get pretty wet and I’m glad I chose not to bring my nice camera.

Here was are above near Scorpion Rock learning about sea life. We got to hold those purple spiky balls and the spikes move when they feel your fingers (see below).

We lucked out and visited on a day when volunteers were planting on Scorpion Island. I don’t have an image of it here, but imagine a tiny island with people all over it gardening. This effort is part of The Nature Conservancy‘s plan to revitalize the animal life on Santa Cruz Island. These specific plants they were planting attract a specific nesting bird, and hopefully these plants will bring more birds to the island ultimately increasing their population. After looping around Scorpion Rock and even entering one of it’s caves, we had to head back to the main port as our time was nearing an end.

With 30 minutes until the ferry boat was heading back to the main land, we borrowed some snorkeling gear from Channel Island Outfitters and went for a quick dip in the harbor. While we were camping over (and not taking the ferry back), our guides had to head back as well as most of the kayaking group who just came to the island for the day.

Look at that stingray above! Even in our quick snorkeling time we still got to see some awesome animal life. The even had a kelp forest right in the harbor (which attracts all types of fish) and we spotted this stingray, and spent some time watching it feed. Alas, it was time to dry off and head back to shore. We spent a lot of time chatting with a Channel Islands Outfitters guide named JD, who was cleaning the gear and assembling it for the next days visitors. He was so nice and helpful. I really can’t stress enough, everyone we met on the island was so accommodating and eager to lend a hand. He even offered to help us carry our stuff to our campsite.

It was kind of him to offer, but we wanted the challenge of our camping weekend, so we carried our own gear to our huge campsite. You can see above, we made our way to the campsite and set-up our belongings. I touch on this in my previous post, but I must reiterate, when we went to book a campsite it was all reserved. By calling the number on the reservation website the rangers worked with us and really made this weekend happen. Sure enough they had many cancelations, and they gave us a giant site to ourselves.

We quickly setup camp and tried to get some photos in as the sun was setting. The above photo shows the wide shot of our campsite. Our site was under the trees on the left side of the photo.

Thankfully we hiked up fast enough to catch the sun setting. We also got to see some stellar views of where we had kayaked earlier that day.

After taking some photos we headed back to our campsite to have a bite to eat. While eating dinner one of the park rangers (Ranger Tim) stopped by to say hello. He was very kind and answered all our questions. I’ve always been fascinated (and super jealous) of people who spend all day outside and I had so many questions for him about what he does. He was very patient and told us all about island living. Later that night our good friend Cathy (see my last post for a photo) came by to answer any questions we had about hikes or wildlife.

Up next, Ill detail the hiking the Channel Island hikes with plenty of blue sky photos.

The Channel Islands: Getting There

As you know, I’ve just had an amazing time exploring the Channel Islands (specifically Santa Cruz Island) and can’t wait to share my trip with you. It’s best if I break it down into the three parts that make up the trip: Getting There, Kayaking + Setting Up Camp + Hiking the Island.

Part I: Getting There

When planning a trip to the Channel Islands, you first (#1) have to decide which island is right for you? My sister and I decided to visit the largest island (Santa Cruz), so we could plan a Saturday of kayaking/snorkeling and then a Sunday of hiking and exploring. Santa Cruz Island had the most hiking options so we decided that was best for us.

(#2) Next we researched the camping, ferry, and kayaking options. Santa Cruz has two main ports on opposite ends of the island. We decided taking the boat into Scorpion Anchorage, where we were only a .5+ walk to the Scorpion campground would work out well (and they have primitive toilets! which is much better than none at all). This same port is where Channel Islands Outfitters leads their kayaking tours.

(#3) It’s now time to book this perfect plan. Channel Island Outfitters offered us an excellent discount and they were the perfect fit for this trek. They offer an all day kayaking experience and even have ferry spots pre-reserved for you (with Island Packers Cruises), so you can book directly through them and they take care of transportation reservations. As for booking a campsite, everything was reserved when we checked the website, but after calling the Ranger (through contact info found here) he managed to find a place for us. This also worked out perfectly, as there ended up being campsite cancellations and since they were so accommodating to begin with, we were able to fill one of those spots. I really can’t stress enough how friendly, helpful and welcoming all the people on the island were.


(map provided by the National Park Service here)

Once our trip was planned, we printed all our info, packed up our gear and made an early Saturday morning trek to Ventura where we signed in with the ferry company and our kayaking group guides, Ben and Phil, at 7am.

You can see above, groups were unloading gear and getting ready for their weekend on Santa Cruz Island (at 7am). I think we were all hoping the gray clouds were all just from the thick marine layer, which would hopefully fade away.

This was the boat we took out to the island above. This is their fast boat which can make the trip in about an hour. They have a small snack bar on the boat, so if you need a coffee boost, here’s the place to fill up. I suggest you sit on the upper deck and look for rare birds, seals, sea lions, dolphins/porpoises, and if you’re lucky, whales. I can promise you’ll see at least one of these animals on the boat ride across.

Above is Cathy, a park volunteer who rode out with us to the island and then stayed the weekend. She was there to teach people about the island and help answer questions. Not only was she on our boat, but she came around to each of the campsites around 7pm to meet all the groups. She was very sweet, knowledgeable about the island and eager to help. She volunteers her weekend to help visitors, which is awesome. Go to Santa Cruz and talk to Cathy!

We passed a team of rowers preparing for an early morning run.

Early in the ferry ride we passed this group of harbor seals warming up. They are so fun to watch up close like this (and on our kayaking adventure we got to be really close.. but more on that later).

Once we were on our way, the gray skies and blue water were so beautiful and still. There is something so calming about the photo above. It was chilly on the boat, so when planning your trip, dress in layers because the wind is chilly but when the sun comes out it warms you up.

Anticipation was building as Santa Cruz came into sight. It reminded me of that computer game Myst, where we approached this magical almost abandoned-looking island hidden in the clouds.

Making our way to the pier. Notice how different this port is compared to Catalina, which is often filled with boats. We knew we were heading to someplace much more private, natural and therefore more special.

Just one or two boats were in the vicinity of Scorpion Anchorage.

Here is where the boat docked, and we stepped off. All the passengers got into a line and passed all the gear down the line until a pile formed at the end of the pier. I love this comradery of helpfulness that everyone goes through as they enter this island. When you are on this island, youre part of a special group of visitors who must work together to get things done. It’s an excellent way to utilize team work and step into a world of nature.

Up next, Ill detail the Channel Island Outfitters kayaking tour.

The Channel Islands… Just A Taste

I survived! Can you guess where I went? The Channel Islands! Specifically, Santa Cruz Island (the largest one). I’ll have a full report for you soon, as it’ll take me a little while to sort through and edit all the photos from this kayaking/camping/hiking adventure. More to come soon 🙂