My husband and I named our August 2022 beach vacation, “The summer of dolphins.” Despite the sadness of sea lions infected with toxic Domoic Acid, that I wrote about HERE, the dolphins were thriving.
Every day we saw dolphins. I was mesmerized watching them. I love to watch them cruise, leap and play. One teenager was swimming along with mom and dad. He’d roll over on his back and do a backward flip — showing off.
This video was taken on our second to last night. The water was like glass, the sunset shimmering pink reflected on the sea. You can see the dolphins tails as they dive.
When we lived in Palm Springs, Calif. which is one of the hottest spots in our nation — next to Death Valley — we used movies as an escape from the heat. It didn’t matter what was playing, we’d find something we were mildly interested in. It got us out of the house where we spent most days.
Then COVID hit and movie theaters were closed. I missed movies a lot. I loved the smell of popcorn when you walk through the theater doors. I loved the few hours sitting in the dark, watching the big screen with unbelievable sound.
I remember writing during the shutdown that the first thing I wanted to do when things reopened was go to the movies.
Fast forward to September 2022 — and we hadn’t been yet. The reason why? I was uncomfortable sitting in the theater with a bunch of strangers. Once we moved, the theater was a 30-minute drive, not a few blocks. The Phoenix area has 6 million people, rather than the 48,000 of Palm Springs. Whenever I looked online, the theaters were full.
Labor Day was packed at the beach. We went early and left when floods of people set up their umbrellas and chairs. We came up with the brilliant idea of going to the movies!
We saw Top Gun. I loved every minute of it. I felt like it was a milestone of getting back to “normal.”
It’s hot. Hotter than at my home in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and we are at the beach. It topped 104 degrees in Santa Barbara yesterday. The only cool place to be is in the ocean.
Taking the advice of fellow blogger of Living in the Gap, Cheryl Oreglia, I bought a boogie board. She didn’t say “buy a boogie board.” She asked if we’d done anything spontaneous lately. If you don’t follow her or read her blog, you’re missing out. She has her first book under contract that will be released in 2023. You can find out more from her latest posts.
I haven’t been in the ocean for several years. First it was my knee surgery from a ski accident. That was 2018 and I was sporting the heavy ACL brace you see on NFL players. Not a good thing for the ocean. Then I worried about waves and babied my knee the next year. The following year there were the Great White Sharks.
I watched my son’s girlfriend surf for hours every day while they visited. She inspired me. I remembered the days when I’d ask the lifeguards to watch my kids while I swam out to a buoy or did a bit of boogie boarding. Then I boogie boarded with my kids as they got older.
The other day, I was hot and I wandered into the ocean knee deep to cool off. It dawned on me — my knee is okay. Also, I had cataract surgery. I don’t have to worry about losing my hard contact lenses that I wore from seventh grade to age 59! Woohoo! One drop of water on my eyes and I’d lose my contacts. It really restricted my ocean adventuring.
I decided to rent a boogie board where my son’s girlfriend rented her surfboard — at the surf shop a quarter mile down the beach from where we hang out. $15 for one to three hours. But I was at the grocery store when I saw a boogie board on sale for $15 because it’s the last weekend of summer. Tough choice.
So I did it. I got back into the ocean after four or five years and I feel like a kid again. The perfect end to our beach vacation. Even with the heat wave. Or especially BECAUSE of the heat wave.
Are you having a heat wave? How do you survive the heat?
Have you done anything spontaneous lately? What was it?
One of our highlights of visiting the beach in the summer is the Farmer’s Market. I discovered this year there are two –Thursdays in Caprinteria and Saturdays in Santa Barbara. That makes buying fruit and veggies more manageable. I don’t have to stock up only to have fruit get over ripe. I can buy just enough.
There is one stand with all sorts of peppers and tomatoes that we stop at. Farmer Fred is the owner. He’s friends with several of our Santa Barbara friends who gather at his stand to chat each weekend. It’s fun to join in and feel like a local.
By our house in Arizona, we have a tiny Farmer’s market. I call it a Farmer market because there is one veggie stand. There is local honey, jewelry, baked goods, chips and dip and trinkets.
It’s a joy to have an abundance of fresh fruit and veggies. We’re especially enjoying Flavor King plums, sweet corn and shishito peppers.
Do you have a farmer’s market near you? What are your favorite things about Farmer’s Markets? What do you like to buy?
This morning on our beach walk, I first noticed three signs and yellow tape.
We stopped to read the signs and a woman approached us wearing a hat that said volunteer for some marine life organization. She said there was a distressed sea lion ahead. It had been resting on the beach behind the signs and yellow tape.
Then when a young woman was walking her pit bull, the dog pulled out of its harness and attacked the sea lion.
The volunteer from the Channel Islands Marine Wildlife Institute told us the sea lion escaped into the ocean. She explained that the sea lion was suffering from Domoic Acid poisoning, which is caused by algae bloom.
My husband said that algae bloom happens every year. Isn’t that a normal thing? Wouldn’t sea lions be used to it?
She said they were inundated with calls about sick sea lions along the coast and that the Domoic Acid poisoning could be fatal. The volunteers were out observing the sea lions from sunrise to sunset along the beaches. Apparently stress could make the illness worse. She was standing on the beach all day to keep people and dogs away from the sick sea lion.
I asked if we could still take our morning walk.
“If you have to,” she answered. “Please stay along the cliffs and as far away from the sea lion as possible.”
We started on our walk, but as we got closer to the sea lion, we turned around. It wasn’t worth it.
We also spotted the young woman with her pit bull walking down a trail to finish their morning walk. She was avoiding the volunteer who was positioned by the signs. The young woman spotted the sea lion in the ocean in front of her and thankfully turned her dog around and headed back up the trail.
One of my favorite things to do besides taking long beach walks is to sit and read at the beach. One day over the weekend, I found myself alone on the beach without a book. My husband was driving our son to the gym for physical therapy. Our son’s girlfriend had walked to a surf shop to rent a board and wetsuit.
I wanted to get back to the house to pick up the book I’m reading — Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” But I was a good three miles away from the house. So I just sat. It was one of the most peaceful afternoons I’ve experienced in a long time. It was too bright to surf on my phone. I couldn’t even read emails.
I watched the pelicans, egrets and sandpipers. I watched the waves. I felt connected to the sea.
Here’s the opening paragraph of the Shirley Jackson book I’m reading:
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise, I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cap mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.