My apologies- this is a belated post, I was hoping to catch up on my posting during the winter school break, but since the switch from Bakersfield College to Cal State only left me with a week and a half off things piled up quickly. I’m back in school, fighting off a cold and hoping to get some posts done before the homework assignments pile up. Going back to November I managed to make my way downtown for Bakersfield s Veterans day parade and take a few pictures. In fact I got carried away and took more then a few which is why it took me so long to edit them all.
Between the various military organizations and their impressive floats and vehicles, most of the areas middle schools and high schools marching bands turned up which made for a very entertaining morning. There were also car clubs, horse riders and of course since this is Bakersfield an off road club that entertained everyone by driving up each others tires as they went.
Beardsley marching band
I hear these guys practicing down the street from my home all the time- nice to see them in performance 🙂
Hmmm-get a lot of naked folks leaning on your truck do you?
Parade Float At least they seem to be enjoying themselves!
Eventually it was time for me to depart as I’d agreed to join my parents for Lunch at Milts diner (celebrating the 50th anniversary of the diner) So I made my way out of downtown but it was quite a parade.
Carole climbs the falls
After a couple years hiatus MLG returned to the waterfall for some vertical practice, we didn’t rig a zip line like we had in previous years, but we still had plenty of fine climbing up through the waterfall and reppeling down. Even rigged the rock pinnacle for a little more practice. We had a great afternoon then headed over to Giannini’s for some wonderful Italian food, a wonderful way to end a wonderful day.
Maria gets a shower
Matt poses on the pinnacle
Back at the Ventura harbor we located our next ride out to the Islands, the dive boat Spectre.
There was no one aboard when we arrived but we spotted someone dropping off some supplies who assured us it was OK to go aboard and pick out our bunks for the night. We met two other divers that were coming aboard to spend the night, Casey and his daughter Elise. Then we walked over to a nearby Greek restaurant for dinner. The next morning there was breakfast served on the boat and while we cruised out to Anacapa Island we had plenty of time to set up our dive gear. There were a fair number of divers, but it wasn’t a crowded boat. The diver stations on the Spectre are very convenient with plenty of room for tanks and gear. Tank fills are done in place at your station which is nice. I got my gear in place. The Spectre itself is a large steel hulled boat that used to service the oil platforms. A good boat for rough water but we didn’t experience any of that. It was nice and calm and fairly warm despite being very overcast. It was nice after the hot, blazing sunlight of the valley. I initially had trouble with my buoyancy as I had borrowed a weight belt from Dave and underestimated the lead I’d need by a couple of pounds, but the dive master on board quickly remedied that by clipping a soft weight to me. Quickly enough we were headed down toward the bottom. There were 3 dive sites that we visited, Landing cove, Cathedral cove and The Goldfish Bowl. It was a wonderful day of diving, the water was about 59 degrees, we saw lots of sheepshead, and Garibaldi, various small fish, sea hares, and the rocks are covered with colorful algae, various sea cucumbers, and anemones – a great assortment of invertebrates. We even saw some spanish shawl nudibranchs and a good specimen of California’s biggest spider crab, Loxorhynchus grandis, commonly called a sheep crab. That evening we ate dinner at a nearby seafood restaurant and were joined by Donovan and Laura two of the divers that had been aboard the Spectre with us. Donovan was originally from New Zealand and they had some great stories about traveling around doing filming and recording in interesting parts of the world as well as their home in France. After dinner we met up with Casey and Elise again who would also be joining us the next day onboard the Peace for another trip out to Anacapa.
Our second day of diving was just as good as the first though I was pleased to find that the food on the Peace was even better then the great food we had on the Spectre. The diving was similar to the previous day’s at nearly the same locations, though this time we spotted a couple of large jellyfish which I had fun photographing and we visited swim through rock, a small sea cave or arch that
is completely underwater, here I got to video a sea lion come flying through the opening and go flying past me.
During the last dive of the day Casey spotted a lobster and pointed it out so I got some pics and video of that as well. We all enjoyed a dessert of apple cobbler with ice cream on the ride back to Ventura.
After getting back to shore Dave and I headed up the coast to San Luis Obispo where we checked into a motel for the night and enjoyed a surprisingly good cajun dinner with a live jazz band. The next day we took our time driving up the coast on highway 1, we stopped to watch the elephant seals near San Simeon, and walked around point Lobos to check out the diving conditions there. All too soon though, we were back in the valley enjoying the blazing sun again. I can’t wait to visit the sea caves of the Channel Islands again and I think I may try hiking at Pinnacles again in the spring when it’s cooler.
Following the heat of pinnacles it was really pleasant to head for the cool coast as we made our way down to Ventura the next day. Here we did a little grocery shopping in preparation for our 2 days on Santa Cruz Island while kayaking. We also decided to head down to the harbor to check out where the ferry would be departing from the next day. We arrived at the harbor to find a huge amount of commotion and people, it wasn’t long before we learned we were witnessing “Pirate Days” an annual event in Ventura. Numerous folks walked around dressed as various forms of buccaneers. Despite the crowd we made our way to the dock easily enough checked on the departure area and time for our ferry, then watched the pirates perform for awhile.
After a good nights sleep, we boarded the ferry for the hour long trip to the island, along the way we witnessed numerous seal lions, pelicans, a few cormorants and dolphins.
There were several groups going kayaking as well as campers, and day hikers on the ferry so upon arrival at the Scorpion cove landing it took awhile to sort out who was going where but before too long Dave and I had met the other four kayakers in our group and our guide Tony. Tony with over 20 years of experience kayaking the Channel Islands was a great guide and I enjoyed his stories as he led us around the island and through numerous sea caves. The other people in our group were Felice, John, Breann and Dave. We all got a chuckle at the fact that we had two Dave’s and two Johns on the trip. During the first day we didn’t paddle very far though we did get to visit some great sea caves, I especially enjoyed paddling through the green room where an opening just below the surface of the water allowed sunlight to shine in giving the water a lovely green glow. This was even more dramatic as the sun broke through the fog giving us a beautiful sunny afternoon.
After our introduction to kayaking through sea caves it was time to find the campground and set up camp for the night. The main campground on Santa Cruz Island is nestled in a small canyon where the sites are all shaded by a large grove of eucalyptus. I got several opportunities to take pictures of the endangered island foxes as they wandered near or through the campsites. By then though the fog was rolling back in and I retreated to my tent for an early night.
The next morning it was still foggy and a little chilly but we managed to get packed up and down to the beach for an early start anyway and beat the other groups of kayakers to the water. We traveled along the coast past a large Stellar Sea Lion Rookery and through our guide Tony’s favorite cave called back door cave, Tony remarked that he wished they’d given it a more dramatic name and I have to agree it was more impressive then the name implies. A long passage through the point, there was a side passage that led out to open sea though I don’t think I’d risk going that way, then more passage that flowed into a sheltered cove. From here we progressed to a rocky beach where we stopped for lunch. This day though the sky didn’t clear so we were getting chilly as soon as we stopped paddling, it wasn’t long before we hopped back on the kayaks so we could start paddling again and warm up. We went back past the sea lions, this time several came out into the water to check us out as we went by. We also spotted what may have been one of the island’s bald eagles on top of a point as we went by. All too soon we were back at Scorpion landing. Dave and I had brought masks and snorkels but since the sun didn’t want to come out we contented ourselves with walking along the beach and watching the junior life guards that were participating in various activities during their day on the island. After loading our gear on the ferry, we were heading back to Ventura. Next up, We check out the underwater scene at the islands…
Pinnacles National Monument
After an aborted attempt to dive the Channel Islands earlier this year where I was thwarted by the weather I was determined to make another attempt, this time when the weather should be calmer. In order to make the drive down to Southern California a little easier I decided to break it up by stopping partway and since I had never visited Pinnacles National Monument I thought this would be a good opportunity. Despite the promise of caves no one from the MLG was able to join me for the somewhat lengthy trip except for David Smith from Chico who not only would be able to join me for caving at Pinnacles but also kayaking and diving at the Channel islands.
Friday morning we loaded up in his truck and made our way down to Pinnacles. We checked in at the ranger station and were pleased to find the Bear gulch cave was open for visitors. We decided to take the short trail up to check out this cave and save the longer hike to Balconies for the next day when we’d have more time. The trail was a pleasant one, not too steep and with a fair amount of shade. This was a good thing as the afternoon was rapidly turning into a scorcher. Soon though, we retreated into the coolness of the cave. The caves at Pinnacles are described as talus caves, composed where a stream has carved through the volcanic rock and other rocks have fallen, sealing the top. The stream was still trickling through the cave despite how hot and dry it was outside and it certainly was nice and cool inside. We proceeded on up through the cave to the source of the stream, a small reservoir on top the hill then headed back down to the campground. The campground at pinnacles was very nice with shaded spots and a swimming pool. We missed the six o’clock closing time for the pool though and had to settle for cool showers instead, though we vowed to get to the pool the next day before it closed. There was an abundance of wild life present, a rabbit made several trips through our campsite and I pointed it out to a family in a nearby campsite, much to the delight of their children. There were also numerous birds including large families of quail.
The next day we planned on visiting Balconies caves and then possibly continuing up the high peaks trail, but after consulting the visitor’s guide we realized it recommended starting on the high peaks portion of the trail first while the day was still relatively cool, then progressing to the cave and the shadier portion of the trail as the day got hotter. We agreed that this made sense so we would head to the high peaks first. At the trail head we met to women, Diamond and Petrina who had not hiked this trail before either and so we decided to hike together. The hike which is approximately six and a half miles long and goes up over 1400 feet, was a fairly strenuous one and we all agreed we were glad to have the steepest part out of the way while it was still fairly cool. After a brief stop at the Chapparal ranger station for water we headed into the canyon leading to the caves to eat lunch in a shady spot. We even spotted a deer on the trail. We enjoyed going through the caves and once more there was still a stream visible in parts of the cave. Once we left the caves though we began to experience the full heat of the day and when we finally reached the trail head where we had parked we were glad to sit in the shade for a bit. That afternoon Dave and I enjoyed an ice cream from the visitor center’s shop and a cool dip in the pool which felt wonderful.
Dave in Balconies cave
Next we head for the coast….