Archive for the ‘Beach camping’ Category

Ocean knight currents, part four

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

I cautiously passed the windmill facing the ocean, which I had originally and mistakenly perceived to be a giant with waving arms,* and sallied forth to find the museum housing musical instruments that are close to my heart, such as the lute.

DSC_0165-2 South Carlsbad windmill

While venturing eastward, I came upon a lovely field of flowers (The Flower Fields® at Carlsbad Ranch)* with a beautiful damsel (Dulcinea?)* in the middle beckoning visitors to enjoy the splendor of ten million Ranunculus flowers.

DSC_0163 Flower Fields of Carlsbad

Assured that the lady was safe behind a white picket fence, I continued on in search of stringed instruments and came upon a magnificent castle* on top of a hill with a commanding view of the countryside and the Pacific Ocean.  This is the home of the Museum of Making Music,* which displays hundreds of vintage instruments and presents special exhibitions twice a year along with concerts, workshops, and educational programs.  (I last made a pilgrimage here in 2008 to view a special exhibit of ukuleles.)  I was delighted that my quest was at an end as I experienced their current, special exhibit, “The Banjo: A New Day for an Old Instrument.”

DSC_0149 MOMM's banjo exhibit (1)

DSC_0150 MOMM's banjo exhibit (2)

The banjo’s roots are thought to go back to West Africa, where hide-covered gourd folk lutes, such as the akonting, were plucked.*  The concept was transported to Colonial America by Africans via the Atlantic slave trade.

DSC_0159 Banjo's roots

An early version of the banjo was played in degrading minstrel shows of the 1800s.  My favorite black banjo/guitar/singer of the folk song era of the 1960s was Elizabeth Cotten,* best known for her timeless song, “Freight Train.”*

DSC_0146 Recapturing the Banjo

Back at camp, Larry prepared lunch featuring pupusas, a traditional Salvadoran dish, fried masa pies filled with ham and cheese.

DSC_0176 Larry's pupusas

A couple strolled into the sunset as I reflected on our successful quests, the rebirth of the San Diego Opera, and why music is so important.*

DSC_0018 Stroll into the sunset

It’s nice to remember the sun’s gonna shine again.*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Ocean knight currents, part three

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Coming back up the bluff’s 50-foot high stairway, this knight paused to get his wind and got a bird’s eye view as the crow flies* of pelicans gliding by, sustained by onshore air currents.  Occasionally, Red-shouldered hawks also soared by as they looked for prey, such as the abundant California ground squirrels, and were harassed by spirited crows defending their territory.*

DSC_0330 Pelicans over Carlsbad bluff

Crows are now considered to be among the world’s most intelligent animals, as demonstrated by Dr. Alex Taylor in the BBC documentary, “Inside the Animal Mind.”*

DSC_0050 As the crow flies

On page 87 in the Spanish novel, Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, translated by Edith Grossman, HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, Don Quixote said this about the crow:

According to an ancient and widespread tradition throughout the kingdom of Great Britain, this king [King Arthur] did not die but, through the art of enchantment, was turned into a crow and in time will return to rule and recover his kingdom and scepter…

(I continue to enjoy the benefits of reading out loud a chapter at a time at bedtime of this very readable and enjoyable translation of this great work!)

California brown pelicans also seem right at home in this kingdom by the sea.

DSC_0231 Pelican gliding

The brown pelican, once shot at for millinery plumes, first received legal protection when Theodore Roosevelt* created sixteen federal bird refuges, starting with Pelican Island, Florida, in 1903.  The species is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, and was placed on the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1970 due to the effects of DDT on its eggs.  Agricultural use of DDT in the U.S. was banned in 1972 and by 2009, brown pelicans made a comeback and were removed from the Endangered Species List.  They are now commonly seen flying along California’s coast* and diving into the ocean to capture food.*

DSC_0254 Two pelicans gliding

But a recent brown pelican population survey led by UC Davis professor emeritus and wildlife biologist Dan Anderson found a drastic decline in nesting pairs, which may be due to changes in ocean temperature and shifts in the pelicans’ food supply.

San Diego Audubon Society says, “Celebrate birds because they fly…” (Click on their beautiful video stream at the bottom of their website.)

DSC_0197 Pelican ballet

Watching this pelican ballet in the sky was mesmerizing, but by noon, it was time to take my usual midday shower in the campground’s facilities.  (We are very frugal with the use of water and electricity in the trailer.  By the fifth day of non-hookup camping, our 30-gallon freshwater tank is typically half full, which means we typically use 3 gallons/day!)  After showers, I always look forward to eating a sandwich made by Larry and then catching up on notes and reading.

DSC_0334 A knight's lunch

While eating my lunch, a squirrel tried to claw its way into a bag of potato chips!

DSC_0232 Squirrel looking for lunch

This drama played out while an old black crow* majestically swept by, perhaps on a quest for food, or the Holy Grail.*

DSC_0052 Crow over Carlsbad

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Ocean knight currents, part two

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Stairways lead down to South Carlsbad State Beach, one of San Diego’s top beaches, where people enjoy swimming, surfing, sunbathing, walking, running, fishing, bird watching and listening to the sounds of the surf.*

DSC_0329 Stairway to the beach

Bluff and beach erosion continue to be ongoing issues.  The City of Carlsbad and the State of California work together with local agencies to replenish sand washed away by winter storms.*  While walking on the sand, I was surprised to step on one of the tar balls recently reported to be washing up on Carlsbad beaches, which may be naturally seeping from the ocean floor.

DSC_0322 Walking the shoreline

Abundant wildlife is seen along the beach, such as this Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, a migratory bird species that breeds in subarctic North America and travels down the coast on the Pacific Flyway* to winter as far south as the tip of South America.

DSC_0276 Whimbrel

Seen below, the Marbled Godwit, Limosa fedoa, one of the dominant shorebirds along San Diego’s coast, has a long bill enabling them to probe deeply in the sand for aquatic insects and mollusks.

DSC_0300 Marbled Godwit

DSC_0304 Marbled Godwit foraging

We also enjoyed eating mollusks, such as the New Zealand Littleneck Clams that Larry steamed with butter, garlic, and wine and served over Shandong noodles.  The shells were saved for table decoration.

DSC_0209 New Zealand Littleneck Clams

One morning, I was looking down from the bluff and spotted a little boy picking up objects from the beach and throwing them into the sea.

DSC_0042 A boy picked up & threw something

I imagined the objects to be starfish that he was saving by tossing them back in the water, but they turned out to be flat stones and his father was showing him how to throw them to make them skip across the surface.  Still, this iconic image caused me to revisit the thought provoking and motivational “Starfish Story,”* inspired by Loren Eiseley, which illustrates that individual actions can make a significant difference.*

DSC_0043 Perhaps a star thrower

This knight-errant is currently happy as a clam at high tide regarding the good news this week that San Diego Opera will not close, due to the overwhelming support from the community and donors, and like the boy in the starfish story, every gift is significant and you can make a difference!*

*This is a YouTube video.

Ocean knight currents, part one

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Temperatures soared into the high nineties in San Diego as we prepared for a 5-day sally to the ocean bluffs of South Carlsbad where we looked forward to cooling ocean and air currents.  Waving giant arms greeted us as we approached our destination, which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be the sails of a windmill, so I set aside my lance and reminisced about the poignant last San Diego Opera where the knight-errant, Don Quixote, battled giants that turned out to be windmills, even as the San Diego Opera was fighting for its existence.  The title role was sung by the great Italian bass, Ferruccio Furlanetto, who has a special message* for those concerned about the San Diego Opera.

DSC_0129 Windmill by the sea

We arrived on the eve of Cinco de Mayo* and promptly celebrated with fresh homemade salsa, chips and Margaritas (a perfect summer drink)*, while savoring the continuous sounds of the surf and a beautiful sunset.

DSC_0001 Cinco de Mayo by the sea

An onshore low-pressure system moved in for most of the week and brought cooler temperatures and gusty winds.  This was a refreshing change from the heat of the previous week, and little did we know that this would turn out to be just a brief respite as hot, dry Santa Ana winds would return the following week and bring record breaking temperatures, fires and loss of homes in San Diego County* usually not seen this early in California’s fire season.

DSC_0064 Our favorite beach campsite

Larry’s decorations for our favorite beachside campsite included papel picado banners near the dense, windswept shrubs that provide wonderful privacy.

DSC_0079 Windswept by the sea

For five days we relaxed to the sound of ocean waves and wind* as we enjoyed the sight of pelicans sailing by in various formations sustained by the updraft of the bluff air currents.

DSC_0082 Relaxing by the sea

Camping by the sea always whets our appetite for seafood.  We moved our outdoor kitchen to the north side of our campsite where vegetation provided a windbreak, facilitating the frying of calamari.  To prepare these “onion rings of the sea“*, Larry cut 1/2 inch rings from squid hoods and shook them in a plastic bag containing flour, corn meal, corn starch, and seasonings, and deep fried a few at a time for 2-3 minutes, just until golden brown.

DSC_0096 Frying calamari by the sea

Dinners were followed by sipping wine and enjoying beautiful ocean sunsets.

DSC_0108 Pelicans at sunset

This trip marks our 8th camping season with our Airstream Safari as we continue to enjoy living the Airstream life!*

DSC_0262 Living the Airstream Life!

Continue to follow the adventures of this knight-errant by the sea in upcoming posts… Cheers!

*This is a YouTube video.

Ocean safari fiesta, part two

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Our fiesta by the sea had begun on Cinco de Mayo and continued as Larry featured Mexican cuisine, such as his savory Caldo de Mariscos, which contained squid, shrimp, and scallops cooked in an enameled cast iron Japanese pot that provided even heat, as well as heat retention.

DSC_0008 Larry's Caldo de Mariscos

Near our Airstream Safari is a stairway to the beach below, which is one way of going “down the shore“, as we would say in New Jersey.

DSC_0047 Stairway to the beach

I descended these stairs in the late afternoon to get a closer look at those beautiful crashing waves* that we continuously heard during our stay here.

DSC_0052 Ocean waves crashing

As I listened to the ocean, it seemed to talk to me.  I was lulled into a meditative and contemplative state.  I thought about its beauty… its vastness.  Then I remembered disturbing images that I saw on this beach three years ago.  At that time, I saw litter and signs of pollution and was hearing news and seeing the images of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico*.  Since then, I have learned that people are working together to create a healthier ocean and track progress towards that goal by calculating and issuing an annual Ocean Health Index Score* in 133 countries.  Listen to renowned oceanographer, Greg Stone*,  discuss the importance of creating an Ocean Health Index and see how your country scored on the Ocean Health Index Score!  See the recent BBC video, “Antarctica: Engine of ocean life“, which illustrates why the seas around Antarctica play an important role in the wealth of life found throughout the world’s oceans.

As I ascended the stairs, I continued to contemplate how people working together could overcome obstacles and achieve a better world.

DSC_0057 Stairway up the bluff

I also thought about the life that this bluff supports.  California ground squirrels thrive here and burrow into the bluff to make homes.

DSC_0046 California ground squirrel

They are also quick in finding any food left unattended by campers!

DSC_0038 Squirrel hunts for food

This “San Diego on the ocean side” environment also supports Brown Pelicans that are often seen flying together (which has benefits*) as they soar along the bluff.  Brown Pelicans almost became extinct in the 1970s due to the pesticide DDT, but environmental protections since then have resulted in their comeback and removal from the federal endangered species list in 2010.  Increased numbers have also meant increased odoriferous excrement that is having an impact on upscale seaside tourist spots such as La Jolla, California.   

DSC_0111 Pelican teamwork

Whether our world’s oceans will have a bright or dark future depends on all of us working together for a better tomorrow.

DSC_0086 Ocean sunset

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Ocean safari fiesta, part one

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

We secured the feral side of our San Diego backyard and towed our Airstream Safari to our favorite campsite on the bluffs of South Carlsbad State Beach on Cinco de Mayo* for five days of sun, surf, sea breezes, soaring birds, feasting and celebrating San Diego on the ocean side.

DSC_0053 South Carlsbad sand & surf

Sea breezes blew up and over the bluff fifty feet above the beach where our Safari rested just a few feet from the edge.

DSC_0095 Our beachside campsite

The sea breeze has sculptured the thick hedges on each side of us, which provide wonderful privacy, enhanced with Larry’s sunscreen that he began making last year.  Homegrown Bird of Paradise flowers on our table gently moved in the breeze, as if looking at the pelicans gliding by.  We have seen as many as 35 pelicans soaring* by single file in long lines or in V-formation.*

DSC_0018 Soaring pelicans

Cinco de Mayo* is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.  We invited our dear friend Beverly to join us for a lunch fiesta featuring Mexican cuisine, starting with a strawberry margarita.*

DSC_0069 Beverly & Larry chatting

Larry prepared Camarones de Gobernador in a pot on our Volcano Stove, which contained camarones* (Larry used large shrimp), red peppers, poblano peppers, onions, garlic and rice wine.

DSC_0079 Camarones de gobernador

This mixture was then placed into grilled corn tortillas and became delicious tacos.  Here is another variation of Tacos de Camarón Gobernador.*

DSC_0081 Lunch with Beverly

The festive day was capped off by sipping on margaritas in glasses rimmed with Tajín seasoning.  “The margarita is the number one consumed cocktail in the United States,” says Greg Cohen in “Cinco de Mayo Is Hot“.*

DSC_0027 Margarita cheers - Larry

Many now consider Cinco de Mayo as the kickoff of the summer season*… and I’ll drink to that!

DSC_0033 Margarita cheers - Bill

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Summer of ’12

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Summer began by my thoroughly rinsing off all of the salt deposits that accumulated on the trailer during our beachside outing last May.  An important part of this annual process is to fully extended our three awnings and wash off the accumulation of salt and dirt.  The details of our trailer awning care are seen in my post, “Trailer Awnings“.  I am always amazed at the amount of dirt that accumulates along the very top edge of canvas where it attaches to the trailer (and can’t be seen or washed away until the awning is fully extended).

Diesel prices rose to $4.599/gallon this summer and the cost to fill up the F-250 tank was an even $100 here in San Diego, but the upside of living here is that we don’t have to go far to enjoy the great outdoors, even our backyard is a tropical oasis.

Summer projects included Larry’s application of finishing touches to our trailer sun shade screen seen in my last post, “Drift and the land yacht“, and in my research into replacing our six-year-old trailer tires.

San Diego’s Old Town is a great place to work and play.  Larry and I put on our Victorian era attire and went to Old Town State Historic Park where Nick & Dave were photographing anybody for free as long as they were wearing vintage clothing.  Nick & Dave do tintype photography using the wet plate collodion process.

(Photo credit: Joe O’Dell)

They took our photos, showed them to us and, after they applied the finishing application of clear lacquer, we returned in two weeks to pick them up.

Nick & Dave’s assistant photographer Joe O’Dell took pictures of us with his Nikon camera and used Photoshop to make the image below showing us with the backdrop of Bodie, a ghost town in California.

Our Renaissance faire friend, Jim M., died in late summer, reminding us that life is fragile and brief and of the importance of cherishing and sharing each day with our loved ones, from season to season.  Summer is now over, the leaves are beginning to fall, the air is cooler… but love endures, along with our memories of the summer of ’12.

Drift and the land yacht

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Seagulls and pelicans sailed by on the continuous updraft of air over the bluff at South Carlsbad State Beach where our Safari land yacht was carefully positioned last week for a direct view of the ocean.  Relaxing sounds of the surf could be heard even at night with the windows closed.  Our land yacht, with its two factory installed solar panels that generate amperes from the sun’s energy even through the early morning marine layer, is a self-contained vessel that thrives at this non-hook-up location.

“Calling travel trailers ‘land yachts’ was an old industry tradition dating back to the 1930s,” wrote Fred Coldwell in his article, “Wally Byam’s Last Caravan,” which tells about the sea yacht Caravan built for a retiring Wally Byam by Scheepswerf Westhaven of Zaandam, Holland.  (See the article in the Summer 2012 issue of Airstream Life.)

Most days were sunny and we hoisted our main sail (the awning that was recently attacked by a dust devil and repaired) and hung festive banners (papel picado, Mexican paper cutout banners) and a sun screen curtain.

Larry had sewn a striped butterfly fish appliqué (that he had made) to an old sheet, which was clipped to the top edge of the awning valance.  Homegrown bamboo poles were inserted in each side casing.  This in progress project provided a pleasant, shaded reading area.  He also made removable noren curtains with the Chinese Double Happiness symbol and a removable dog gate, both held in place by adjustable tension curtain rods. These provided sun screening, privacy, easy access, and ventilation while keeping the main door and screen door open.

We easily went in and out of the Safari by stepping over the dog gate and holding onto the side handle and door frame.

The curtains could also be used inside to separate the galley and bedroom areas.

Sounds of crashing waves below became appropriate ambiance for my afternoon riveting readings of Rachel Maddow’s Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, Crown Publishers, New York, 2012.  The dust jacket proclaims, “Written with bracing wit and intelligence, Rachel Maddow’s Drift argues that we’ve drifted away from America’s original ideals and become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war, with all the financial and human costs that entails.”  Rachel talks about her book in this YouTube video: “Rachel Maddow’s ‘Drift’ … Premier Book Launch in NYC.”

Besides seagulls and pelicans, military helicopters also flew by occasionally, just as in the desert while we were camping.

Thoughts also drifted by, especially at sunset as I looked up the coast at the smokestack of the old Encina Power Plant.  A plan to build a new power plant nearby is opposed by the City of Carlsbad.  I had thoughts about the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant just 30 miles up the coast, which was shut down last January due to a tube leaking radioactive water and since then hundreds of other tubes were found to be wearing out more quickly than expected.

As the days grow longer and hotter, we will suspend our camping trips until the fall, and yet still enjoy day trips… and follow the sun, but not bake in it.

Catfish by the sea

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

The Easter tulips were still opening their purple blossoms as we made our way to the sea to spend 5 nights camping at South Carlsbad State Beach Park while a heat wave was peaking in sunny San Diego.  Cool sights, sounds of the surf, and delicious food and drinks made for a relaxing and enjoyable time.

Our Safari trailer was parked on a bluff 50 feet above the beach within 15 feet of a sheer drop-off.  The nearby chain-link fence does not look pretty, but it is a safety feature that keeps tipsy people and dogs and other objects from tumbling over and reduces the incidence of costly beach rescues.  Some people place chairs on the picnic tables when viewing the sunsets.  The fence also plays a role as a makeshift tripod, keeping the Nikon camera steady while capturing squirrels gazing at the Pacific Ocean.

Long lines of pelicans, sometimes in a V formation, were seen gliding by our campsite throughout the day.  Once considered an endangered species by the federal government, the brown pelican population is now on the rise in California.

Pelicans were also seen gliding along breaking waves for the opportunity to scoop up fish for a tasty meal.  (In the morning we also observed pods of dolphins doing their herding maneuver of squeezing schools of fish into bait balls for a fish-eating frenzy.)

As the sunset approached with cooling late afternoon breezes, Larry was in his element as he prepared to deep-fry catfish nuggets, steam corn, and reheat sabzi polow (pilaf, a herb rice dish) that he made ahead of time at home.

In making Mediterranean-style Deep-fried Catfish Nuggets, Larry used one cup of flour mixed with 1/2 tsp. turmeric (provides a beautiful golden crust), 1 tsp. crushed dried fenugreek leaf, salt and pepper, and coated the catfish nuggets while the pilaf and corn were steaming in the Chinese stacked steamer on the Volcano stove.  When the pilaf and corn were done, Larry deep-fried the nuggets for 1-2 minutes (until golden), which were served with pilaf, corn on the cob, chilled champagne and a golden sunset.

After dinner, we settled back in our folding chairs and gazed at the glowing, peaceful horizon.  After the myriad sights, sounds, activities and strollers that flowed by our campsite each day, we welcomed the lulling and ever-constant rhythmic sound of the surf.

Addendum: This article first appeared one week ago, but vanished in thin air while our blogging software (WordPress) was being updated.  It took a few days to work out the bugs, but now it seems to be working, and it feels nice to spread my wings again and relearn how to fly… and feel the good vibrations!

 

World Oceans Day 2010

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

dsc_0118-wear-blue-and-tell-two.jpg

According to The Ocean Project, the concept for “World Ocean Day” was first proposed in 1992 by Canada at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.  Listen to a very moving speech by 12-year old Severn Cullis-Suzuki given at this summit as she presented environmental issues from a youth perspective.

The Ocean Project, working with the World Ocean Network, has been promoting World Oceans Day since 2003.  World Oceans Day was officially declared by the United Nations as June 8th each year beginning in 2009.

The purpose of World Oceans Day is to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean has in our lives, inform the public of the dangers threatening the ocean and of the impact of human activities, and to encourage everyone to take action to protect and preserve the ocean and its riches.

Wear Blue and Tell Two” is The Ocean Project’s slogan to encourage people to celebrate the worlds oceans by associating the color blue with the oceans and by taking personal action to help.

I was aware of this and of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as we camped above the beach at South Carlsbad State Beach, so I curiously descended the wooden stairway to the beach below with a new perspective.  Even before I got down to the beach, I could see something that did not belong there, a tire.

dsc_0123-stairs-to-the.jpg

Why was this vintage B.F. Goodrich Silvertown tire there?

dsc_0125-bf-goodrich-silvertown-tire.jpg

I looked up the beach and noticed that it is losing sand, and Carlsbad’s sand is like gold for the city.

dsc_0143-beach-sand-erosion.jpg

Signs on the bluff warn that the cliffs are unstable.  Cliff erosion can be seen below our campsite.

dsc_0131-cliff-erosion.jpg

As I walked the beach, more questions came to mind, such as why was this snack package here?

dsc_0145-snack-package-litter.jpg

Would the person who carelessly discarded it be strolling here if everyone else did the same and the beach was covered with litter?  More questions arose.  What comes out of the two large drainage pipes sticking out of the cliff?

dsc_0148-drainage-pipes.jpg

What killed the plants nearby the pipes?  “Think Blue” is the City of San Diego’s campaign to prevent pollution from entering the storm drains, which drain untreated water into our creeks, bays, lagoons, and ultimately, the ocean.

dsc_0146-dead-seagull.jpg

What caused the death of this seagull?

So I am motivated to “Wear Blue and Tell Two” ways one can take personal action to help:  1. Make smart choices when eating seafood (see list).   2. Reduce our reliance on plastics, use a reusable shopping bag (See “Dr. Dre  – World Ocean Day – Project Kaisei“)

This year World Oceans Day falls on a Tuesday, so many events are taking place on the weekend before, June 5th – 6th, such as beach walks and cleanups, tidal pool explorations, aquarium festivities, and readings of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,  by Dr. Seuss.  Find an event near you here.

The health of our oceans is in our hands. (See “The Ocean in the Drop“)

dsc_0198-pelican-sunset.jpg

About the Author

BILL, along with partner, Larry, were first-time RV'ers when they purchased their custom-ordered 23' 2007 Airstream Safari SE. Bill (a retired RN) and Larry (a retired pediatric Occupational Therapist) enjoy bringing history alive in the area of San Diego, CA.