Sunday, March 4, 2007

big blue sea

I've fallen in love with the Pacific Ocean.

I didn't grow up with the ocean. In fact, where I grew up (Michigan) is pretty darn far away from the sea. We have the Great Lakes, which are spectactular in their own right. But they're not the ocean. As a kid, my first experience with the Atlantic was visiting my grandparents in Connecticut and, frankly, I thought it was pretty icky. The beach we went to was overrun with horseshoe crabs, which are not the most pleasant creatures ever, and the water was dark and seaweedy and dirty. We also went on vacation in Florida a couple times, and I LOVED collecting shells on the beach. Mostly, though, I just didn't care much about the ocean. I was perfectly happy with nice, clean freshwater lakes.

But in November, when I saw the Pacific for the very first time (on Thanksgiving day, no less), it was love at first sight. And now, I live only 5 miles from Highway One, and the ability to drive up and down the coast is at my fingertips. So I spent the weekend exploring the Sonoma Coast. SO beautiful.

How can I be lucky enough to have all of this right in my backyard???

Yesterday, my friend L. and I wandered around the beaches just north of Bodega Bay. I can't remember which beach these pictures are on, but could it be more gorgeous? We went to Coleman Beach, Miwok Beach, and Shell Beach, and then today on my own, I went to Goat Rock Beach, hoping to sea the seals that come there to "nest" in the spring. Unfortunately, they haven't arrived yet. In any case, I'm fascinated by the rocks just jutting up out of the ocean everywhere around here. VERY different from the super fine-sanded, flat beaches of Lake Michigan.

Anyway, we went at low tide yesterday, and so I got to experience tidepools for the very first time. Check out the awesome sealife I saw:

These are called Giant Green Sea Anenomes, though they're not actually that big.

This one is an Ochre Sea Star. He was a BIG dude, 8 or 9 inches across. They also come in a bright orange color.

And this is a combination of Goose Barnacles and California Mussels. I never knew barnacles could be so lovely.

There are also all these places where waterfalls tumble out of the cliffs above the water and make their way down to the ocean. And the rocks on the beach are like nothing I've ever seen -- all sorts of greens and reds and striped white and black. I don't know much about rocks, but I certainly came home with pocketfuls of them that are now in lovely little heaps all over my house, along with some beautiful pieces of driftwood. Anyhow, I have a zillion more pictures, but it's getting on toward my bedtime, so they'll have to wait for another day.
(Sorry about the oddball formatting -- I'm still getting used to how this blogging thing works, and I'm too sleepy at the moment to fuss with it anymore to get it all to look exactly the way I want it to)

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