Touring Ocean Beach Park-Lompoc, CA

Ocean Beach Park Lompoc featured image

eanDid I ever mention that my husband is originally from Lompoc? It is an inside joke between us- a small-town boy meeting a city girl. So, where is Lompoc, which is pronounced LOM-poke? Located 268 miles northwest of San Diego, Lompoc is often referred to as the flower seed capital of the world.  The town was established in 1888 and is located in the middle of Santa Barbara County on the Central Coast of California. It is a small agricultural town that is surrounded by the Vandenberg Airforce Base. I informed my husband that if we were going to visit,  my one desire is to go to the ocean. So we ended up going to Ocean Beach Park in Lompoc, CA, and I am here to share.

Why Lompoc?

Lompoc Map central southern california

A little back story-We just celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary this past July 4, so we decided to go to Las Vegas to commemorate the joyous occasion.

It was nice to revisit where we were married (Treasure Island) and reminisce. On a side note, it was not pleasant at all, going to Las Vegas during Quarantine 2020, but that is not what this post is about, so I digress.

After we were done with the ridiculous heat of Nevada (100 degrees plus), we headed northwest for six hours to see family in  Lompoc. As a rule, it is almost always chilly and overcast there. And to say that I was looking forward to not being so hot is an understatement!

Noting that we were only in town for less than a day, I thought it would be an outstanding idea to have all of the family meet us over at and Ocean Beach Park for a pizza picnic.

It was perfect timing without even knowing just how lucky we were. If this had been any other time before 2020, we would not have been able to enter Ocean Beach Park at all.

More on this later.

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Wardholme Tree You Took My Breath Away!

Wardholme torrey pine featured image me looking up

Just last month, my husband and I were able to visit his family up north to  Santa Barbara County. I was super excited because we would be able to stop by Carpinteria and check out the largest Torrey Pine tree in the world! The tree even has a formal name- the Wardholme Torrey Pine.

It may seem a bit dramatic, but when we were approaching the tree, I gasped! The presence of this giant can not be denied.

Let’s take a look close and personal, shall we?

Important Information
  • Scientific Name
    • Inland Population- Pinus torreyana
    • Santa Rosa Island- Pinus torreyana var. insularis
  • Habitat
    • coastal sage scrub
    • chaparral
  • Endangered
  • One of the rarest pine trees in the world as it only grows naturally in two places in Southern California
    • A small strip of the coastline in Del Mar and La Jolla
    • Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara County
  • Very slow-growing and can live up to 100 years
  • Distinguished by the needles on the branches being in bunches of five
  • Six-inch (15 cm) pinecones

Map- 5100 Carpinteria Ave, Carpinteria, CA 93013

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The New Shelter Island Boat Launch Ramp

shelter island featured image san diego bay

n About a month ago, when we were “allowed” (I am not bitter) to leave the house, my daughters and I set off to San Diego. Towards the end of the day, we found ourselves over at San Diego Bay and decided to check out Shelter Island. I was anxious to see how the new Shelter Island boat launch ramp turned out, and I have pictures to prove it!

Shelter Island has always been a family favorite. We have been coming here ever since my children were small. It has a beautiful walkway that runs parallel to the Bay. It is also a prime spot to watch the boats and military ships entering and exiting San Diego Bay.  I have written extensively about San Diego Bay (San Diego Bay-A Photo Tour), as well as the Shelter Island boat launch ramp, so if you would like more in-depth information, press on the above links.

San Diego Bay’s New and Improved Launch Ramp

Shelter Island sign san diego bay

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Southern California Native Plants

Pechanga River back country stream

So what did you do during Quarantine 2020? Well, I spent many, many hours exploring the fields behind my neighborhood. I went hunting for native plants and wildflowers! Would you like to see what I saw? Down below, I have listed all of the Southern California native plants that I observed from March to July.

I had a lot of time on my hands, and I thought now would be an excellent time to get more familiar with the native plants in my area. Did you know that San Diego County has the highest biodiversity anywhere in the continental United States?

Yes! California hosts over 6500 species, subspecies, and varieties of plants, with 222 of these that are designated as rare, endangered, or threatened.

I live about one mile from the San Diego Border,  so even though technically Temecula is in southwest Riverside County, let’s pretend.

So, where did I see all of these lovely plants? Behind my neighborhood, there is an undeveloped area that lies just outside of the Pechanga Indian Reservation. There is a dry riverbed that runs parallel to two golf courses, which are both owned by Pechanga.

Down below I have provided a Google Map of the area that has become my second home these past 5 months.

Temecula plant ID trails native plants
Red Line=Observation Area

There are several biomes to explore here-

  • Grasslands
  • Coastal Sage Scrub
  • Chaparral
  • Southern Oak Woodland
  • Serpentine

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San Diego Shark Sightings

San Diego Shark Sightings Featured Image

Seeing how I have been homebound during this unprecedented worldwide quarantine (I am sure you can relate), I had the time to do a bit of shark research. I have always wondered how often sharks are seen off the coast of San Diego. Through the years, I have heard rumors, but seeing that I had a bunch of time on my hands, I set out to find all that I could about San Diego shark sightings and encounters that happen off the coastline.

Sharks have always fascinated me ever since I was a little girl. In fact, my very first scientific report was on the hammerhead shark in fourth grade.

hammerhead shark san diego shark sightings

There is something so powerful and alluring about sharks that tug deep at your primal soul. The coldness of the eyes and the methodic tail movements that propel them through the water always captures my attention and imagination every time. I mean, just the fact that sharks have been around for over 400 million years, blows me away!

But, I digress.

My mind was running wild while reading over all of the fascinating shark encounter reports. It was a welcome reprieve to get away from all of the chaos that is happening in the world right now.

So, I thought, why not document the various shark sightings/ encounters for San Diego County, beach by beach?  It would make for a great addition to my website, as well as for my curiosity.  

Sad News From Santa Cruz, California

While I was writing this article, something truly tragic happened off the coast of Northern California at 1:30  pm on May 11.

On the northern end of Monterey Bay, Ben Kelly,  26-years-old, was attacked and killed by a shark while surfing. The tragedy took place 100 yards  (91 meters) from shore off Sand Dollar Beach at Manresa State Beach, Santa Cruz.

Kelly was surfing with a friend, who stated that they were able to swim back to shore, but they could not stop the bleeding.

It was also noted that this area is notorious for juvenile great white shark sightings and is referred to as “Shark Park.”

But a juvenile did not attack Ben, as experts reported the shark to have been larger than 10 feet.

What Type of Sharks Are Found off the Coast of San Diego County?

Surfing Terramar San Diego Shark Sightings
Terramar Beach

Before I get into all of the critical shark sighting data that I have uncovered, I thought I would first off make a list of possible sharks that are seen in and around San Diego waters.

To go one step further, I have separated them into two groups, Coastal, and Pelagic.  Down below are the definitions given to simplify the difference between the two.

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Are Any San Diego Beaches Open Yet? (Updated May 2)

san diego beaches open featured image

Every morning that I have been waking up this past month, I have to keep reminding myself that this is not a dream, almost the entire World is on lockdown. The first question that comes to mind every day is- are any San Diego beaches open yet?

North Crystal pier surfers san diego beaches open
Pacific Beach

It has been a surreal experience, and I am quite confident that all of you reading this, concur. I am not going to lie. The inhibition of travel to the coast hit me the hardest, and I even work in the restaurant business.

I lost my job temporarily (we hope) on March 15. Also, losing my job didn’t hit me as hard as not being able to go to the beach, or in other words, being told to stay in my home with restricted travel limits. Every day, I would scour the internet to find any positive moves to correct this disastrous decision to cut off the coast to the population. You can read up-to-date information here, which includes linked sources.

Well, enough of my rantings. Are any of the San Diego beaches open yet? Let’s take a look at what I have found.

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Grunion Run 2020 Schedule

It has taken me a bit of time to tell you that Southern California’s infamous fish, the grunion’s mating season is upon us! Why? Well, seeing that all the San Diego County beaches are closed, as all citizens a barred from experiencing the coastline, I hesitated. Even the Dept of Fish and Wildlife took the chart off of its site so as not to encourage people from coming to the beach and witness this phenomenon. Down below, I present to you the San Diego grunion run schedule for May- September, with the anticipation that the beaches will be open on May 1st (fingers crossed).

First, I will give you a little background information on why this is such a spectacular event, followed by my recommendation on the best beaches in San Diego would be ideal for witnessing the grunion mating dance.

What is a Grunion Run, and Why is it a Big Deal?

Single Grunion spawning beach sand
Wikimedia Commons

The grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) is a type of smelt which is small, silvery, and is about the size of a sardine. These fish are only found off the coast of Southern California, from San Luis Obispo down to Northern Baja California.

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Live Streaming Beach Cams

live streaming beach cams featured image

In this time of unprecedented beach restrictions across the globe, I thought it would be the right time to do a little more research concerning being able to experience the beach while we all “shelter-in-place.” How do you ask? Well, I am sure that the above title gives it away. Down below, I have found some of the best live streaming beaches cams out there.

So why did I choose these particular beaches? No apparent reason. I would be happy looking at a small wave pool at this point. But, no, really, I chose these particular beaches because of the aesthetics and how they made me feel. A few of these webcams have ad’s, but you only have to wait 15 seconds until it is refreshed again.

I hope that you enjoy them all, just as much as I do. On a side note, I have also included a few other beaches from all around the world. Which one will you find the most exciting? Have a look!

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All San Diego City Beaches Are Closed

San Diego Beaches closed featured image

I can not believe that I am writing these words, but all San Diego city beaches are closed to the public as a precaution to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Can you believe what you are reading? I keep thinking that I am going to wake up and this is all a bad dream.

Here is a timeline of events that have been occurring in San Diego County, starting on March 15 to “flatten-the curve,” to discourage large gatherings and to maintain social distancing.

San Diego Beach Closures –Timeline of Events

beach closure timeline california san diego

  • Sunday, March 15- all restaurants and bars are to be closed until April 28.
  • Tuesday, March 17- the State of California closes all state campgrounds and beach parking lots, but beaches, trails, and non-campground areas are still open.
  • Thursday, March 19- Governor Gavin Newsom declares a ‘shelter-in-place’ order for the entire state of California.
  • Friday, March 20- the cities of San Diego, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar close all parks, beach parking lots, and boat launch ramps. Cabrillo National Monument was closed but stated that it would open back up on April 10. All outdoor areas and trails are still open. (Update- Everything closed until further notice.)
  • Monday, March 23- due to lack of social distancing and gathering of large groups at several beaches in San Diego on the previous weekend, the mayor of San Diego Kevin Faulconer calls for the closing of all San Diego City-owned lakes, beaches, boardwalks, parks, and trails. The cities of Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar, follow San Diego and do the same.
  • Tuesday, March 24, the Port of San Diego officially closes all parks, trails, parking lots, and boat launch ramps of San Diego Bay. Imperial Beach officially closes all if its beaches.

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The Megamouth Shark- A New Species

Megachasma pelagios featured image

I thought I would post something different today! While cleaning up the other day, I found a few of my college reports and had a fabulous time reminiscing the good old days when I all I would think about day in and day out was Marine Biology. I remember distinctly writing this paper, as well as visiting the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles to photograph the Catalina megamouth shark specimen.

To make things a bit easier to read, I have broken up the body of my report to make it flow better. If anyone is familiar with Scientific Papers, they can be a bit chunky, so I hope this helps.

When I was composing this report, there had only been four megamouth sharks seen ever. Over the past 30 years, 58 more can be added to that list. So please remember while you are reading this, that scientifically this paper doesn’t hold much credence due to its age.

But,  most of the information is still very relevant, especially the morphology. Have fun and make sure to check out the end, as I will be listing all megamouth sharks that have been observed so far.

Introduction- Megachasma pelagios,  Family Megachasmidae

megamouth shark hawaiian specimen
Figure 1- Hawaiian specimen caught off of Oahu, Nov. 15, 1976

A rare and startling discovery took place on November 15, 1976, off Oahu, Hawaii. A U.S. Navy research vessel had its anchor down at about 165 m depth and had a strange 4.5 m adult male shark attached to it.

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Walking Around Guajome Lake and Regional Park

Guajome Regional Park featured image water birds cattails

In mid- January, I took my daughters and Mother-in-Law to experience Guajome Lake and Regional Park in Oceanside for a couple of hours. You see, we are always passing by the front entrance whenever we take Highway 76 to the coast.

I have always been intrigued by what Guajome Lake looked like, so today was the day to find out!

Map


A Bit of Guajome Regional Park History

Guajome regional park grassy picnic area

First off, here are a few statistics regarding Guajome Regional Park. The park spans over 394 acres and is 8 miles inland from the coast.

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San Diego Beach Buzz- March Events 2020

San Diego Beach Buzz March Events

Welcome back! Lord have mercy this year has been shooting by! Are you planning on visiting San Diego in March? Here is a bunch of things happening in this beautiful city. Take a look and figure out which events interest you! Down below, I have compiled for you a bunch of different things that you can do while on the coast of San Diego. Most events are free to the public. So let’s take a look at San Diego Events for March 2020

The Carlsbad Flower Fields Open in March!

Carlsbad Flower Fields San Diego March Events
Photo Credit- Kellinahandbasket @ Flickr

Starting March 1, the Carlsbad Flower Fields is open to the public for only six to eight weeks!

Now is the time to visit this 50 acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers.

“Today, the fields are a direct result of over 85 years of floral cultivation that began when Luther Gage, an early settler, and grower, settled in the area in the early 1920s.

Mr. Gage introduced Ranunculus seeds and began growing them in his fields next to Frank Frazee’s small vegetable farm in South Oceanside. This started a business called “Luther Gage Giant Tecolote Ranunculus bulbs.” The name “Tecolote” came from the owls that nested on his property.”
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Desperately Seeking Torrey Pine Trees

Desperately seeking torrey pine tree featured image

I would have a bit of fun with this post today. You see, with all the exploring that I have been doing in San Diego County, I have been noticing the elusive Torrey pine trees while on my adventures.

What has me so intrigued is the fact that the Torrey pine tree is endangered and is the rarest pine tree in North America. The Torrey pine tree only grows naturally on a tiny strip of land on the bluffs of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve (TPSNR). Because of this, I keep noticing them wherever I go around San Diego County!

I have tried to find any information on who planted all of these trees, but regardless I was ecstatic every time I saw a Torrey pine tree. So I did a little research and let me tell you, it was not easy.  There is plenty of necessary information, but other than that, not so much.

Torrey Pine Tree Information

torrey pine tree scientific information

First and foremost, the Torrey pine tree only grows naturally in two places Del Mar and Santa Rosa Island, off the coast of Santa Barbara, which is 175 miles away.

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San Diego Beach Buzz- February Events 2020

San Diego Beach Buzz February featured image

Welcome back! Can you believe how fast the month of January has gone by? Wow! Down below are some fabulous events that are happening on the coast of San Diego in February. Now, I am sure most in the country can not even imagine that here in February, the average high temperature in San Diego is 65 F (18 C). Pretty nice, yes? While most of the country is dealing with snow,  here in San Diego we are wondering if we need sunscreen. Let’s now take a look at what is happening this month, shall we?

San Diego February Marathons

February San Diego Marathons february events

There seems to be a wide variety of San Diego marathons to choose from in February! I was pleasantly surprised at the variety that is offered.

11th Annual Warrior Spirit 5k Run/Walk Family Festival

warrior run carlsbad marathon

Website

Time: Registration-8:30 am and Opening Ceremonies-9:15 am

Sponsored by the Mitchell Thorp Foundation, on Saturday, the 1st starting over at Poinsettia Park in Carlsbad, join others to race to support those with life-threatening childhood diseases and their families.

“Funds raised from the event will go toward MTF’s Families Team Pages where their bills will be paid from. MTF’s Programs; Medical & Home Assistance, Healing & Rehabilitation, and Wheelchair Conversion Vans Programs.”

There will be live music, food and health vendors, Kids Fun Zone Area, mini-therapy ponies, a dance contest, and even a costume contest. Registration is $45. Click on the above link for more information.

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King Tide at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

My husband and I had tickets for the ‘King’ of all concerts- Tool at  Viejas Arena SDSU  on Sunday, Jan 12. It was a Christmas present from my sister-in-law (thank you, Tess!), so we decided to make a day out of it. My husband even made the situation sweeter by getting a hotel room. I usually work on the weekends, so you can probably imagine how excited I was to take a day off! So, my main objective was to make this one of the best days ever in San Diego  ( my best days are always at the beach!). I knew that the King Tide was due in for that weekend, so I thought what better place to check out the tide pools than over at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park-Garbage Beach.

What is a King Tide?

point loma tide chart jan 11 to 13 King Tide
Point Loma Tide Chart

After a full and new moon, a spring tide occurs, due to the gravitational pull,  of the moon and sun. The result produces a very high tide and, in turn, a very low tide. So, in essence, a Spring Tide is when there is the most significant distance between the high tide and the low tide. The best time to go to the tide pools during extremely low tide is during winter because, In the summer months, all the shallow tides only happen at night.

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