So! Yesterday Kitty, Bandaid, Kero and I went to Sunset Beach. We left at the crack of dawn...well, more like ten forty-five/eleven but y'know, when you've been on vacation for a week or two everything feels so much earlier than it is. After a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up a block of ice (no one else had seen the blocks before, it was strange) we headed off in the general direction of Watsonville. No-one except myself knew where we were going, and it had been over ten years since I last went, so we had Mapquest directions and were hoping for the best.
It's a real pretty drive once you leave Highway 101. There are farms and vineyards all around, and everything is growing now, so there are great leafy plants as far as the eye can see. Interspaced among horse ranches are gigantic mansions that everyone was drooling over. (Personally, I'd prefer a fancy townhouse in the thick of the city, but the giant country homes are lovely.) We had 'beach music' blaring so we were listening to the Beach Boys when we hit the mountains, which were a bit freaky beacause Kero doesn't have much experience driving extremely twisted roads. But she handled them very well, despite cranky drivers and thick fog. The forest is gorgeous in the summer, because the trees haven't browned and the fog keeps everything cool and slightly damp. I really want to go camping at Mt. Madonna now. I wonder if I could manage to pull together a group for that...anyway, after what seemed like endless twists and turns in the roads we emerged on the other side of the mountains and were surrounded by flat valley land once more.
We found our way to Gizdich Ranch. Our original goal was to pick strawberries but when we arrived at the main site we wandered into the pie shop and ordered a strawberry pie. The thing was monstrous! The berries were piled a good eight inches high over the crust and covered in thick gooey glaze. After one glance we knew we had plenty of berries to last the day so we skipped berry-picking and hightailed to the beach. My directions were a bit confusing so we had to turn around once or twice but we got to Sunset Beach within a decent time frame and hit the sand. It was still foggy and chilly but by now it was past noon and we were starving. So we ran over a small sand dune, grabbed our chunk of beach, spread the mats, and dove into our sandwiches.
After eating I was up for some movement so I whined Bandaid into taking a walk with me. At first we walked up on the dry sand but it was slow going because our feet just sank right in, so we walked to the ocean's edge and it was much easier to walk. There were all sorts of shells and seaweed littering the beach and the waves kept bringing more and more up onto the sand. Gross sandy blobs were scattered here and there and Bandaid figured out that they were jellyfish. They looked so gross so I knew I just had to poke one. As I was foolishly reaching my finger towards one specimen Bandaid pointed out that jellyfish are poisonous, so we went stick-hunting. After we found a pair of poking sticks we marched along the beach 'til we found a good fat jellyfish, so fresh that some of his tentacles were still attached. We poked him and decided he was so cool we had to carry him back to Kero and Kitty; but we had nothing to put him in. I stabbed my stick (which had snapped in half) into the sand and we walked back to the mats and got one of our buckets. (You better believe I bring sand toys! Shovels and buckets and everything!) While at the mats we were dropped off a crab shell (it was a perfectly preserved top of a crab; he even had eyeballs. But the bottom half was completely gone, probably eaten by seagulls.) As we were trudging back out to the jelly we noticed a big lump of something sitting up on the sand. I joked that it was a dead seal and we decided to investigate after retrieving the jelly. With a bit of a struggle we got the jelly into the bucket and started back again.
As we were walking past the lump Bandaid reminded me we had to investigate so we climbed up the beach. From the water's edge it looked like it might be driftwood but lo and behold, it was in fact a DEAD SEAL. The disgustingness of rotting seal flesh can not be explained. I didn't even have the bravery to poke it. We ooohed and aaaaaahed for a few minutes and then turned around to show Kitty and Kero the jellyfish. As we were walking past a guy asked me "Is that thing what I think it is?" because I guess he was too chicken to get close and ogle a carcass by himself. I replied, "Yup!" and smiled as if I thought it was just the coolest thing ever.
Kitty and Kero were properly appreciative of our jellyfish efforts. After making interested sounds they agreed to walk out and look at the dead seal, but they didn't get nearly as close as Bandaid and I did. By now the sun had come out and Kitty had tanning on her mind. Bandaid and I slathered our sunscreen on and then I managed to convince Kero to go for a walk in the opposite direction with me 'n' Bandaid so we could take pictures of gross things. ^_^ (She had the only camera and no one else was to use it so she had to come.) We found some nifty shells and snapped photos of 'em and we found a MONSTER-SIZED JELLY as big as Kero's head (we were prepared with a bucket this time!) and it was soooo hard to scoop him up! On the way back we hit paydirt when we found a truly disgusting half-rotted bird skeleton. The neck was too long for it to be a seagull so I think it may have once been a pelican. At any rate the head was completely gone so it was hard to tell what it had been. Bandaid and Kero were tuckered out so they crashed on the mats when we got back to tan for a bit but I was still keen to walk (I kept telling myself that one doesn't get gorgeous gams by lying on the beach, but that seems to be how all the movie stars do it.) so I went off on my own for a bit. I walked in the direction Bandaid and I had gone on our first trip but went much farther. I went past where the last group of people were and over to an area that was roped off to protect a sandbird's nesting territory. I didn't see any nests tho'; I think mating season's long over now. So I kept walking (I had Kero's camera so I could snap a photo of that dead seal) until I came to the highest hill on that beach. I think it was originally a sand dune but overtime the sand had solidified and become reddish sandstone with plants growing on it. It looked like there had been a sandslide and there was reddish sand poured down one side of this hill. It was steep...I'd guess a fifty-sixty degree angle. All of a sudden I really wanted to climb up this slide, so I did. It was difficult because you'd take a step and you'd sink half up your calf into the red sand. It was impossible to keep your feet above the sand, although the little lizards that were running across the sand were somehow managing. Damn lizards! Since I had the camera I couldn't use my hands which made it harder – even when the camera was around my neck it was too long and would have banged the sand-covered rock if I stopped holding it. So I just kept slugging along until I FINALLY made it to a ridge about fifteen feet from the top. There was a sandstone wall that had been carved on by many people; it was plastered with initials and "So-and-so was here!" signs. Into this wall there had also been footholds carved, so I climbed up them to the top, which turned out to be a touristy viewpoint. So I wandered out and took a photo of the view so I'd have proof that I'd climbed all the way up there. I also took a picture of the sandstone wall because I thought it was cool that so many people had decorated it.
I guess I was away from the others for about an hour. When I was meandering back to them I watched some fishermen who were flyfishing into the shallow water. As I walked up one of the men reeled in a little fish and let me look at it and photograph it. He and I talked for a few minutes. He and his friends were local men who fished pretty regularly; the fish he showed me was about six inches long but he'd caught much bigger fish yesterday. It was fun and he was such a nice man. I thanked him before going back to the rest of the gang, who were getting ready to eat our strawberry pie when I walked up. Bandaid said she'd looked for me but hadn't gone far enough to find me.
We didn't have a knife so we just dove into the pie and ate the strawberries off the top. I don't think we even made it to the crust. There were simply too many big juicy strawberries, so we put the pie (we'd barely dented it!) back in the cooler. After deliberating what to do for a few minutes we decided our new mission in life was to build a swimming pool for our jellyfish, so we went down to the water and started to dig. Our first hole was too close to the water and we couldn't get a wall up, so we moved back a bit and dug a huge hole with a grand wall and moats and channels to bring water away from the walls. Unfortunately, we had made this palace for our jellies too far from the water and their pool couldn't be kept full. Oh well, we had fun, and when we'd given up on filling the pool we went and played in the water. Everyone kept saying I had to go out the deepest because I'm tallest and I didn't get wet like they did where they were, but I can't swim so I didn't want to go too far. The water was rising tho' and Bandaid stuck with me so we ended up getting waist-deep and getting soaked up to the chest and shoulders when big waves came up. Kero and Kitty are both tiny li'l buggers and even tho' they were several feet behind us they got soaked from head to toe. Hee hee. The water was positively freezing – Pacific Ocean always is in our area, if you want warm water you gotta go down to SoCal. I couldn't feel one of my toes after a while and my teeth were chattering, but it was waaaaay too much fun to get out. The kelp kept grossing everyone else out so when a particularly large clump of it washed up we would drag it out of the water. Some kids playing next to us were building a fort to 'protect the seaweed' so whenever I had a clump I gave it to them.
Too soon we had to go because it was cooling down and Bandaid had to be home by six. Unfortunately we miscalculated the time it would take to get home (and we got minorly lost, and there were two accidents on the freeways we went on) so she was over an hour late getting home and her boyfriend was pissed. ;_; Blah, he's always kinda like that tho'. I mean, he's a nice guy and fun to hang out with but he's always calling or seems to be in a bad mood. Eh. After we dropped Bandaid off Kero dropped me off at home. ^_^ I was so tired that I just crashed even tho' I meant to sort out the fabric Popo gave me the day before.
Mmmm...crashing sounds good. I should go to sleep soon. But first strawberry pie. I want to go back to the beach again.