Saturday, October 31, 2009

Great Blue Heron

Wow! What a storm we had last night here on the Kitsap Peninsula, the wind blew so hard to shake the living room windows, even set off my car alarm in the middle of the night.

But, it was all worth it to get up and see this serene blue heron perched on a circle of rocks on my beach.  Beautiful, graceful..

(yes, I was in my pj's when I crept down the beach trail to get this photo, and no, the neighbors didn't catch me!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Perfect Way to Spend a Lazy Friday Afternoon..

Last Friday, we drove North on Hwy 1, beyond Half Moon Bay, to discover a new favorite place to enjoy a lazy, sunny afternoon on the San Mateo coast.

Moss Bay Distillery has a very interesting history! Built in 1927, the restaurant sits on a cliff with a secluded beach below - the ideal location benefiting illegal clandestine activities!  During the Prohibition era, rum-runners whiskey routinely somehow found itself at what was known then as "Frank's" place. "Frank's" was a popular speakeasy, courting local politicians from the City and silent screen stars.

This was the fabulous cliff view that greeted us in the parking lot. Down below are rocks and tidepools galore, and so fun to watch the sea lions frolic in the surf! Easy to see how fog and surf made it possible to   land boats with forbidden whiskey on the beach and then drag them up the cliff.

Check out the menu! We had the most scrumptious "seafood sliders";  little salmon, crab cake and yellow fin tuna sandwiches and fish tacos - so good!  Tom and I decided that cocktails might just be the ticket while we sat all afternoon and enjoyed the view from the outdoor patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean surf to the North.

 Look how happy Tom is!  Perfect place to dream away an afternoon...

These are some of my favorite memories, a little sun, a good glass of Pinot Gris and a fresh seafood lunch!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stinson Beach Sunsets

Had an absolute dream day on Saturday, driving to the Pt. Reyes National Seashore on Hwy 1, in Northern California.   Hard to imagine that another perfect day could be topped off any more beautifully.  

These photos were taken overlooking Stinson Beach, and the Pacific Ocean  from the road that rises up to Mt. Tam, and then back over to San Francisco.  Just had to pull over and drink in this incredible view!

Watch the progression of colors as the sun sinks further into the Pacific..

The sky was absolutely on fire with brilliant pink and orange flaming clouds! Love this view with the curve of Stinson Beach. During the day, when driving down this hill, the view that stretches out with white sand and all the blues of the color wheel is one of my favorites! Some days you get lucky and the surf is whipped with the white caps of the Pacific Ocean.

Tom thought he was so sneaky! Taking a picture of me, while I tried to capture one more image on my Iphone....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A First for Tom - Oyster Shucking!

One of my goals this week was to help Tom find some fresh oysters, so that he could try to shuck them raw and enjoy on his deck.  (I opted for the wine and cheese!)

If you remember, we did go to the Hama Hama oyster farm in August in Washington, but during the summer, oysters should only be barbequed, not eaten raw.  Oysters should be eaten raw only during the "R" months, all other months of the year,  they are edible, but a little skinny.  (Hood Canal Oyster Adventure)

We read a great article all about seafood and sustainability in Sunset magazine. "FAQs at the Fishmarket", was just a small portion of the article and it was where we learned where the best seafood markets were. It is also where we learned that we could buy oysters in Half Moon Bay at the New Leaf Community Market. (P.S. Great Store if you live in the Bay Area) Funny thing  though, we bought Washington Fanny Bay oysters in a California market!

The first night here, we bought an oyster knife at our favorite Belmont grocery store, Lunardi's. Tom gave it a whirl, placing knife in the "hinge" of the oyster shell and gently prying open the shells as he held them in a dish towel.  As you can see from his beaming face, it worked beautifully and oysters on the half-shell were served with a fabulous glass of Sauvignon Blanc from St. Clemente, a local Napa winery.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Searching for Sea Glass....Good Days and Bad Days

I don't really know when this started for me, suspect that it was when I was about 8 years old and was allowed to walk on the beach by myself. As a kid, I had little stashes of all kinds of colors of worn, tumbled sea the house, at the beach, on the deck. I can't seem to help myself, although now I am a little pickier about what I am allowed to put in my pockets. If the edges are still rough, or the glass too clear,  I throw the piece back in for another day.

Last Sunday, was one of those perfect fall days.  Cool, but sunny and gorgeous with perfect late afternoon light.  Walked 2 miles or so down to the beach by the Southworth ferry dock, taking fall photos and  having a fabulous time picking up all kinds of stuff. Found lots of aqua glass, plus even a small cobalt blue piece of glass!  So excited to find several almost whole moon snail shells.

Then like the foolish girl that I am, decided to walk home on the beach, it's about a mile.  No problem, just a little rocky.  Walked over 3/4 of the way, and gee - ran out of beach.  OOPS! And it was getting dark and cold, then the wind came up. (can you see in the picture at the point when the beach is no longer?) What to do? Tried to time the waves so that I wouldn't get too wet - or worse yet, ruin my favorite shoes.  That didn't work! Ended up wading up to my knees in freezing cold Puget Sound water, then scrambled up on somebody's bulkhead - dried up rose thorns stuck in my hair and on my favorite jacket. Still have an ouchy sliver stuck in my thumb!

Squished all the way home on the road for another mile.Although I did have to lose the moon snails, I did manage to save my stash of sea glass. Such a glamourous life I lead.. glad that I didn't see anyone that I knew!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Simply Starfish!

Am fascinated by these creatures!  We are so lucky in the Northwest to have so many varieties and colors - blues, greens, orange and many shades of purple. The neon purple of the starfish to the left is real, and  not retouched by photoshop! (Trust me, I haven't found my disk yet to install on my new laptop! )

The following pictures are a collection of starfish photos that I have collected all summer to share with my beachcombing fans. I have been so fortunate to have lived all of my life by the water, sometimes I forget how lucky!  Many of these photos were taken at minus tides right here on my family's beach, at nearby Manchester State Park, or at Waterman Dock, also within minutes of my house.  Hope you enjoy and learn a little too!

Starfish are best found at very low tides, and can be easily found clutching pilings, in tidepools, and hiding in rock crevices.  They are classified as "echnoderms", with knobby spines on their backs, their skin has soft fuzzy clumps of oxygen absorbing tissue. 

Each of their feet is tipped with a tiny suction cup which helps a starfish hang on tight when a wave washes over them.  So cool; having neither heads, nor tails, they can change direction without turning around! Using their tube feet, starfish can pry open mussels, clams and even oysters ( my dad HATES starfish for this reason!) just enough to insert their inside-out stomachs into their prey's shell and digest their victim.  

Six-Rayed Star: Usually smaller starfish, lead-gray, olive-green, or orange with pinkish tones. Found a few of these! They feast on barnacles (our beaches are a smörgåsbord of barnacles!), small snails, small sea cucumbers and chitons.  They can be found in low tide zones from Puget Sound to the Channel Islands off of the California Coast.  I am guessing that this picture to the left is a six-rayed star, it was small, and sort of orange-brown..

Found one Sunflower Star. The one that I did find was very small and delicate. They start life with six arms, but can grow up to 40 cm across, and 24 arms! Orange, grey-blue or purple, they are soft and limp out of the water with very breakable arms. Enjoying a menu of urchins, clams, mussels, and dead fish (they pretty much eat anything!), the sunflower starfish moves very fast and is the largest intertidal star on the Pacific Coast. 

No worries if a starfish loses an arm - they can easily regenerate a new one! Check out this blue starfish that I found on the beach one day when we were hunting for rock crabs...  Can you see the start of a new arm growing?

Ochre Star: These can grow up to 30 cm across, with rows of white tipped spines running down their arms.  They are rough to the touch, and can be found mostly in shades of purples, reds, oranges. Slow growing, and dining on mussel shells, barnacles, limpets, snails and of course, oysters, this is the species that is the most common around my neighborhood. 

 Sorry that the photo of some very large deep brick-red starfish are hard to see! They were clinging to rocks, just barely underwater, near the Waterman Dock.  I was amazed at their gorgeous color..

Found a few green Ochre Stars, so unusual!

At Manchester State Park, Alex and I had the best time scrambling over the rocks hunting for starfish in all of the crevices.  There were some areas that I could not climb down, so thank goodness that my son has no fear!  Here he is getting the shots of the small bright orange starfish that he found in a tidepool.

Final photos are some of the ones that we found stuck in the rocks at Manchester - come starfish hunting with us next time.  I think I am getting to be an expert on where to find them!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nisqually Delta - a great comment!

Thanks Jerry for sharing your story about Nisqually!  Hope you don't mind, but I am sharing a picture of you with your kayak on the blog - can't wait until you take that long trip around the South Sound and write me something up!

"Next time you're at Nisqually Delta on the beach, look out in the Sound. If you see a pair of kayaks, one white, one red, That would likely be my sister and I. It's a favorite place of ours."

A Walk in the Nisqually Delta

After driving by the signs for the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, near Olympia, hundreds of times, I decided to make a special stop last Sunday. Join me for a gorgeous, peaceful walk through what is one of the last accessible deltas in the Puget Sound!

The Nisqually River delta is Nationally protected, and is one of the most biologically rich, diverse areas located at the Southern Tip of Puget Sound.  Together with Red Salmon and McAllister creeks, the Nisqually River, mixes with salt water forming one of the largest remaining estuaries in Washington State.  It was set aside for wildlife in 1974, and has become an increasingly important place for their protection, especially for migratory birds. When walking on the trails and boardwalks throughout the delta, there are so many birds to see and especially to hear!  Don't worry, there are signs indicating the different species of birds and all of their important facts.  Next time I will know to bring a set of binoculars.

Located  between Tacoma,Washington and just minutes from Olympia, the Nisqually Refuge is easy to find just off exit 114 on I-5.  Follow the signs once you are off of the freeway and drive right into the parking lot surrounding the visitor center. Last weekend, after I drove off the freeway, the drive in was decorated with these hand-painted salmon -  must be that time of year when the salmon are swimming upstream and returning to the rivers.

Thought these painted salmon by local grade school students were really great - love the creativity.  I would guess that there was over 200 of them stuck in the ground leading the way into the Nisqually Delta trails.

The entrance fee is a mere $3.00 per family for the day. Trails are open daily during daylight hours, and the visitor center is open from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm, Wednesday through Sunday.  I highly encourage you to stop in the visitor center and learn about all of the diverse wildlife that lives in the delta. If you are interested in the ongoing educational programs and special events, make sure to leave your contact information with the volunteers.

There is a small gift shop too, all nature related.  Right now the only trail that is open is the 1 mile  Twin Barns trail, it's a complete boardwalk throughout, with plenty of places to stop, sit, enjoy, take pictures, breathe the fresh air.

Last Sunday was particularly beautiful!  Leaves changing into beautiful fall colors, sunlight streaming through the trees.

Look at the scarlet red of these coastal rugosa rosehips, mixed in with other wild plants in the estuary.

Loved these scenes of rich green color in the swamplike atmosphere - birds galore! (again, I won't forget the binoculars next time)

This is a must visit on your journeys through Puget Sound - can be a quick walk, or can turn into a half-day of pure enjoyment.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Simple Fall Beach Glass Decorating

Love my frugal, extremely creative, beautiful friend Cami.  She's another fellow Aries girl just like me! Had so much fun last night at her invitingly comfortable home, fire burning in their river rock fireplace, with Cami's special touches of family artwork and memories.

Took this quick photo last night (always have my Olympus camera in my purse!) and wanted to share how Cami used her beach glass treasures in such a gorgeously simple way.  Glass tray, inexpensive candles set on top of some of her favorite pieces of beach glass - perfect centerpiece for our
girl's pizza, salad and red wine Friday night get together.  Oh, and Cami did make luscious fudgy chocolate brownies.. had to eat one of those before driving home in the rain...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Beach House Style in Fairfax, Northern California

 Friday, September 25, 2009:  Another journey using the recommendations of Sunset Magazine, (they always have great ideas!) to north of San Francisco in the foothills of Marin County.  Used my trusty i-phone to map out my destination from San Mateo, across the Golden Gate bridge, up to Fairfax, traveling through the town of San Anselmo off of Hwy 101.  What did I do before I had my i-phone?

I should have stopped on the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate to capture the fog that day, now wishing that I had. Fascinating.. tendrils of cold gray fog spilling across the bridge and into the San Francisco Bay -  felt cold to even watch through the windows of the car!  Cannot begin to explain the beauty of the green hills in Marin with the bright orange-red bridge in the foreground, fog racing through and across.  Wow, promise to stop next time and use the video feature on my camera.

Beach House Style is a great shabby beach chic store nestled right at the beginning of Fairfax, off of Sir Francis Drake, the main road through San Anselmo that runs all the way to Point Reyes on the coast. Loved this store.  Vintage pieces mixed with new, makes for such an interesting fun-filled experience!  Shells, candles, painted chests, small tables.. The owners, Susan and Alisha, have done a great job of flowing the their beach decorating ideas together. Love the colors of coastal decorating, fading yellows, aqua, seafoam greens, blues, melon-pink...

Susan Delurgio, one of the owners, was incredibly gracious and wonderful. She obviously has such love for being a store owner!  (I can relate!) Can you see the faded white painted bench in the background of this picture? Loved all of the vintage furniture re-purposed for their next life,  waiting patiently for the new owners to find them and bring them home - Beach House Style signature items include the handmade picture frames and mirrors, fashioned from barn wood, old boats, and refurbished homes.  They also carry a line of linen nautical cushions hand-made locally in San Rafael. (Think that I need to carry these online too!)

Could not resist buying a new cookbook, Lazy Days and Beach Blankets, along with some yummy new dark aqua candles for the patio to enjoy with Tom.  

Had a fabulous time and a great day exploring Fairfax and San Anselmo.  Thanks, Susan - I promise to be back as soon as I move down!

Relax and Live at the Beach Every Day of the Year!

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