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Lagoon

Started: 2018-08-07 19:26:11

Submitted: 2018-08-07 21:40:51

Visibility: World-readable

21 June 2018: In which the intrepid narrator visits tide pools, California State Historic Landmark #1, and a light house; and sees the circle of avian life in action

On our last full day of our road trip down the central California coast, we headed in search of tidepools at Point Pinos, on the very end of the Monterey Peninsula, not far from our Airbnb in Pacific Grove. I expected that we would be able to see marine life in the intertidal zone in the falling tide, but I was underwhelmed by what I saw: a bunch of muscles clinging to the rocks, with only a couple of anemone and crabs and a small starfish.

Waves break on Asilomar State Marine Reserve
Waves break on Asilomar State Marine Reserve

It's possible I wasn't looking in the right place, and that Julian's limited mobility on the rocks made it impossible to cover enough ground to find the right pools, or that the tide was still too high to see much.

Starfish in a tiny tide pool
Starfish in a tiny tide pool

I did at least enjoy the opportunity to hop around on the rocks jutting out into the ocean, hearing the waves break around me, hearing the water below and the birds above.

Calvin, Julian, and Kiesa at Asilomar State Marine Reserve
Calvin, Julian, and Kiesa at Asilomar State Marine Reserve

We headed into Monterey to visit the Customs House, which my guidebook told me was the oldest government building in California, first used by the Mexican government of Alta California, then used by the American government. The building was a one-story, thick-walled adobe structure with a disclaimer at the door warning that it was an "unreinforced masonry structure" whose stability during an earthquake was not guaranteed (but it was a historical building so they were going to give it a pass, for now). The building was part of a state historic park, and it was filled with representations of goods that would have been shipped into California from the rest of the world -- including tea from China and manufactured goods from England. Even in the 19th century the world's economy was global (and we just lived in it).

We walked onto the local Fisherman's Wharf (which, like the equivalently-named wharf in San Francisco, had few fisherman and numerous tourists) and looked out onto Monterey Bay, then grabbed a snack at a coffee shop. We drove towards the part of Monterey adjacent to Cannery Row where we visited a used book store packed with mostly paperback books, then walked down the street to Paprika Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant serving excellent falafel and humus.

We headed to the Point Pinos Lighthouse, a small lighthouse perched on the end of the Monterey Peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We descended into the basement to watch a short video on the history of the lighthouse, walked through the living quarters dressed up as it would have been at the end of the 19th century, and climbed the spiral stairs to the top of the lighthouse to look at the light itself and look through the wavy window towards the ocean.

Point Pinos Lighthouse
Point Pinos Lighthouse

We drove to Carmel River Beach in hopes of finding a beach where our kids could play in the water -- choosing this beach in particular because it had a large lagoon separated from the water. By the time we got there, though, Julian had fallen asleep in the car and Calvin didn't want to get out onto the beach, presumably because he'd had too much beach already this week. I was not going to pass up the opportunity to walk on the beach, so I walked along the strip of sand separating the lagoon from the ocean and found a rock to sit on overlooking the waves.

Carmel River State Beach
Carmel River State Beach

From my perch above the water, I looked out into the ocean, where I could see a sea otter frolicking in the kelp forest just off the shore. I watched a mother seagull lead her ducklings across the beach and watched a raven swoop down to snatch one of the ducklings that was straggling behind. The seagull herded the rest of her ducklings to the other side of the beach and successfully defended them from the raven when it returned for a second helping, except for one duckling that had gotten off course and was being throw about by the surf. It sat, dazed, at the high-water-mark under the raven's watchful gaze until I left; at which point, with me removed from the scene, the raven felt comfortable swooping in and carrying the second duckling away.

I returned to the car after my nature lesson to find Julian waking up from his nap. Kiesa herded him and Calvin out of the car, then drove to a nearby grocery store to buy a picnic supper. Julian sat in the water in the lagoon while Calvin sat on the beach blanket reading a book about alien conspiracies we bought earlier in the day at the used book store. I dug a canal in the sand next to the lagoon and watched the brown pelicans fly in and out of the lagoon, looking like large bombers taking off on a raid, escorted by seagulls and other smaller birds.

Julian sits in the lagoon at Carmel River State Beach
Julian sits in the lagoon at Carmel River State Beach

Kiesa returned with our picnic supper, and we ate; then returned to our Airbnb in Pacific Grove for one more night on the Monterey Peninsula before heading home the next day.

I have a few more photos from the tide pools at Photos on 2018-06-21.

The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data.'