La Jolla in August is over run with visitors, Mission Beach is brimming with umbrellas, sunbathers & swimmers. Much of July and August I do not spend in La Jolla or Mission Beach. Instead I search out other spots in Pacific Beach where I can still enjoy living at the beach.
Occasionally it is fun to stop & watch the model yachts sail around in circles in a small lake in Mission Bay. The lake is surrounded by green grass under shady trees. The San Diego Argonauts, sail boat division, meets here periodically & have races. It is great fun to watch adults sail these motorized boats, which are as big as they are. The boat owners hold their controls & walk on the edge of the lake along with their boats. Sometimes they have to walk into the water to rescue a capsized boat. They seem to be a friendly group of guys who like to sail and sit in the shade under the trees to chat when it is not their turn to sail or they’re taking a break. Such a delightful way to spend a hot summer day. www.sandiegoargonauts.com
If you long for the real thing and can’t afford to buy your own sailboat, there are one-person sail boats for rent on Santa Clara Point. There are summer sail boat camps to learn how to not capsize your sail boat. Courses are set up and a cantata of tiny sailboats gather together to run the course. The real trick seems to be to stay one behind the other because when the sailboats end up clumping together capsizes are sure to occur. A man in a boat sails with them barking out orders and directions. All in all it looks like everyone is having fun being a sailor in their own tiny sailboats. Of course the bay also has full size sail boats and catamarans to watch, too. Even if I’m not on the sail boats their white sails swooping along the blue bay is soothing and restorative.
I also find sanctuary at the Robin Stribley Marsh Reserve at Crown Point in Pacific Beach. Even though jet skis zoom by in the distance, shorebirds are safe to nest in this highly protected reserve. There are almost always Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers and an assortment of other wading birds to be spotted here. This is a migratory bird stop off, too so during certain seasons Least Terns and Black Skimmers will gather here. The grasses that grow in the marsh allow the nests to float. It is a natural environment preserved right in the midst of a very large city. I’m so grateful for the dedication to preserve this area for the birds.
In Pacific Beach the shorebirds are returning to the beach as summer comes to an end. I love to see the Snowy Egrets slowly walking on the piles of seaweed in their Snowy Egret ballet dance with yellow slippers on their feet. The Marbled Godwits, Godwits & Willets walk along the shore at low tide probing the sand with their long bills. Sanderlings & Plovers do their quick-quick run to the sea as the waves recede & then quick-quick run back to safety over and over to catch their dinner. The beach here is filling with seaweed again. The bright lime green lettuce seaweed is always a delight to see. The Feather Boa kelp makes me want to wrap it around me & do a dance.
California Brown Pelicans arrive to plunge dive for their meal as a school of anchovies shows up near the tide pools. Their perfect dive forms are better to watch than any summer Olympics I’ve ever seen. Surfers waiting for waves lay on their surfboards as the Pelicans plunge into the water right next to them. Seagulls fly out to swim next to the Pelicans and to scavenge any leftovers floating on the sea. I hold my breath and stand motionless at the edge of the shore watching this age-old feeding ritual. Pelicans plunge into the sea with a huge splash, twisting their bodies as they enter the water so their bones don’t break. They catch a fish & then they reappear at the water’s surface with their meal safely in their pouch to swallow. The pelicans the lift off into the sky, fly effortlessly with their giant wings looking for fish & then plunge down for their meal. They do this over & over again until the anchovy fish school moves on or the Pelicans are full. It’s an awesome thing of beauty, which I am privileged to see & am ever grateful for my life by-the-sea.
The summer is ending, the tourists are going home & the beach is starting to return to the locals. I breathe deeply as my eye can see miles of almost empty beach.