Wednesday, July 29, 2009

anacapa island

The second day of camp, we lounged all morning, had a slow, incredibly good dutch oven breakfast, walked down the road and swam in the ocean til the sun went down.
We had a field trip planned for the third day, so we had to get up really early. The girls then discovered that the tide is out at 6 am and there is an beautiful exposed sandy beach beyond the rocks right at our very own campsite. "YAY - can we swim??" Um, no. I think we have mentioned about 73 times this morning that we need to get dressed quickly, eat breakfast, and leave in a few minutes? "Ok, we'll hurry . . . but can we swim for just 10 minutes first?" Um, no. My goodness, I said NO more times on this trip than I ever did with a household of toddlers:
Can I trade seats in the car? NO
Can use my cell phone for a minute? NO
Everyone is busy, can I walk down to the bathroom alone? NO
Can I ride in the other car? NO
Can I have more cinnamon rolls? NO, there's not enough for everyone to have seconds.
Can we go in the water? NO
Can I go to bed? NO, wash your dishes first.
Can I swim without my water shoes? NO
Can I have something different to eat? NO
Can I trade tents? NO
There were a lot of YES questions too, though:
Do I have to eat my vegetables? YES
Do I have to wear sunscreen? YES
Is it our turn for clean-up again? YES
Do we have to walk the whole way? YES
And there were a lot of questions that were answered with a shrug:
Where are my water shoes? I don't know, where did you leave them?
There's no spoon in my dunk bag! I don't know, where did you leave it?
Where's my flashlight? I don't know, where did you leave it?
I can't find my jacket! I don't know, where did you leave it?
Summarizing like that sounds like I was the meanest woman in camp. (Maybe I was . . . )
Anyway, I've been to Catalina Island several times and I thought it was a solitary little island off the coast of LA. I'm a little surprised to learn that Catalina is part of a chain of islands and we visited one called Anacapa Island. We took a 45 minute boat ride out. The girls stood at the bow of the boat and enjoyed the ride. We saw a pod of dolphins in the distance. There were probably about 50 of them. As we rode closer to them, the dolphins surrounded the boat and rode the wake of the boat for quite a while. On our way back, we rode around the back side of the island and saw sea lions galore sunning on the rocks and we spotted a whale so the boat captain made a little detour to get a closer look. It popped up and back down into the water so quickly a few times, but I think most everyone was able to see it.Anacapa Island is pretty, but half of it is very white. The naturalist told us that most people think it is because of the makeup or the chemistry of the rock, but no. The island is a bird sanctuary and the white is guano . . . bird poop. EEEWWW!
Sabrina summed it up in a poem she wrote in her travel journal:
Seagulls by the Ocean
Seagulls, seagulls everywhere,
Next time you sea one you better beware,
On an island you'll think it's snow,
But the next time you sea a seagull,
I guess you'll know!
(cute poem, huh?)
Anyway, as we approached the island, I began wondering how we would actually get off the boat and onto land. It seemed to be surrounded by cliffs. And indeed it was. The boat dock was at the base of a set of steps. I didn't count, but the girls' estimates ranged between 87 steps and 152 steps. Either way, it was a long way up. (oh, I just looked it up - 156 steps!)
Did I mention 'bird sanctuary'? The ground looked mostly like this: . . . and like this:A naturalist took us on a tour of the island explaining the nature of a conservancy, the types of plants and the nature of the birds that lived there. There is no natural water source on the entire island. The only animals that live there are the gulls, a few mice and lizards. Nothing else. Oh and some UGLY plants. I've been hiking in some beautiful areas this summer, but this hike left the rocky desert areas of Phoenix looking like paradise!Then all of a sudden, we walked up to "Inspiration Point". Ahhh. And it appears that it is a dizzying drop off into the ocean below. Well, it was. And again, moms, so you won't be nervous (goodness know, I was) the naturalist had the adults go ahead and guard the edge before the girls were allowed to walk into the area.Try as we might, you can't force everyone to be inspired at "Inspiration Point":I enjoyed watching the girls as we walked along. The littlest ones in the group were seriously prepared, shade hats, camelpacks full of water, extra sunscreen, cameras at the ready. The older girls in the group were more about accessorizing the girl scout shirts.The last event on the island was an interactive video conference with a diver. She was diving in the cove below us and was televised on a big screen on patio-like area above. The girls could actually talk to the diver and ask questions: "Hello, my name is Gloria and I was wondering what is the most interesting thing you've seen today?" She and her cameraman swam around the kelp in those 30 minutes or so and found among other things a lobster, an octopus, and a little polka-dotted shark to show the group.After we left the island, we had to still stop in town for supplies, drive back to our campsite, cook dinner and fall into bed EXHAUSTED! I think everyone slept well every single night.


Lauri said...

gee, I can tell these are going to be some interesting posts. You guys packed a lot into your week, didn't you? It's always amazing to me after living in Southern California for 20 years that I find out a whole bunch of new stuff...Anacapa Island? What?????

Katie said...

I thought this trip was supposed to be some kind of reward? They have to wear water shoes, clean up their messes, can't even go to the bathroom alone, and then their idea of an adventure is a bird-poop covered island? That does NOT sound like a reward to me, no matter how you look at it.

Anonymous said...

Wow great pictures! Loved the poem!

Suzanne Barker said...

Oh Cynthia! you are a SAINT! It does remind me of my Girl Scout Days and I do remember them fondly in spite of some of the memories your comments evoked!!!!