Island Life

I’ve always loved islands. In fact, when we were about 7 or so, my brother and I tried to run away to one. We’d seen them in picture books and were inspirited. We didn’t get too far, of course. But that didn’t stop our loving them.

I have been to Hawaii (twice), but that seems to be more of a big tourist trap to me (I really went there because I wanted to see lava in person, but failed to). Anyway, Hawaii was a larger island than I wanted. So I researched others. My island had to meet certain conditions, a big one being affordability. But also, I wanted it to be, well, island-like. Didn’t think that something just off the coast a ways could fit the bill. How wrong I was! I’d neglected California’s Channel Islands.

I’d been vaguely expecting another tourist trap, not helped by the fact that Catalina Island, one of the Channels, fits that description to a tee (Yuck!). But though one of eight of the islands, Catalina is not one of the five that make up the Channel Islands National Park (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara). The national park also happens to be surrounded by the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

Long story short, We (my daughter and I) just came back from a moving week-long trip to a spectacular place, Santa Rosa Island. Though roughly 26 miles offshore, Santa Rosa island (at 53,000 acres, or 84 square miles), is like a whole new world!

It is not without some unease that I make this post, because having been there, I realize what a treasure it is that some would love to exploit for personal profit. One republican candidate once even had the brilliant (and notorious) idea of turning this pristine heaven into a hell. Anyway, I can’t imagine anything worse than what hordes of people, with the usual demands for services and amenities, would do to the park (as it was, I picked up a trash can load of garbage while there (*). For such people, I strongly recommend Disneyland, or even Catalina (see above).

It’s for nature lovers, however, that I post. If you plan to visit Channel Islands National Park, though, be prepared for no amenities, no stores, no laundry, no cell phone service, dirt trails, poison oak and ticks and often persistent strong, cold (at least in the cooler months) winds. In short, to bring all of your necessities, including food, clothing and sleeping gear. But be prepared, also, for peace, quiet and natural beauty that will take your breath away. And don’t forget your camera! In our week there, we only saw a fraction of our island, so I’m hoping to revisit solo, perhaps in the summer, or next spring.

A note: Channel Islands is home to lots of threatened and endangered species. If you come, please be mindful and respectful of that fact. Of prehistorical interest is the fact that Santa Rosa was also the endemic home, along with two of the other islands, to pygmy mammoths, which stood no taller than a typical human. Also, a native, Chumash culture, occupied the island for at least 13,000 years. Wow! Their name for the Island was/is Wi’ma, meaning “driftwood”. How lovely!

Following (except for four) are some of the many, many pictures we took while there. Sorry there’s so many. We took videos too, but I won’t bother trying to upload them. Click to enlarge.

Channel Islands, California*

The Marine Sanctuary

Santa Rosa Island**

Santa Rosa***

On our way

We’ve got company

Our first view!

Walking the planks

Bye!

Our village, as the kid called it****

Our rustic bathrooms*****

Empty beach…

Exploring

Along the way

Wow!

Abalone

A tiny shell

More

Limpets

I find a cow’s tooth in the sand

We locate some eating utensils

A cave (of sorts)

Inside

Some natural artwork

Wi’ma

A wind kicks up

Warm, soft sand

I stood like one thunderstruck!

Ah, the views heading toward the rare Torrey Pine forest!

Pines!

At the top

Heading down the other side

Rocks. Btw, that’s Santa Cruz Island in the background

To the south sea!

Looking out

A little rest

Such beauty

Indian Paintbrush

An endangered island variation

Oh my

Lupine (or as we call it, Blupine 😉 )

Such color!

Poppies!

A native bee on a thistle!

Seals!

Oh, hi there! We’re going 🙂

Another beach

Yet another

The west side

Cactus

Never seen one like this before

Almost Sunset

Time to head back

The next morning: sunrise over Santa Cruz island

In Lobo Canyon

Contrasts

Later edit: I forgot to mention when I made this post that, as we were hiking a narrow trail down in Lobo Canyon, we suddenly heard a sort of rumbling sound, rising in crescendo, which we initially thought was a loudish airplane. But then the ground began to shake. “Earthquake!” I yelled, but it wasn’t too strong. Although it was positioned just off Santa Cruz island not too far from us, and was a 5.3 on the Richter scale, to us, it felt like a only a magnitude 2-3. For us, it added to the fun, although we did begin to watch the hills above for possible tumbling boulders. Here’s where it hit:

Earthquake

A news report.

End of Lobo Canyon

A wild walk

Awed

An unstoppable force meets an immovable object

A wild beach!

Horses

Trail in the grass

We get off track

A wistful leaving

Empty again

We’ll miss you, Santa Rosa

Heading back

The sheer cliffs of Santa Cruz

Life is to be adventured™

* From Wikipedia
** From californiabeaches.com
*** From Google Maps
**** Picture borrowed from visitventuraca.com
***** Just kidding. This is an old toilet, assumably for the previous ranch help. A modern, working bathroom at the campground, is the one amenity on the island.

(*) Later edit. What a shame that as of January 2019, with the government shut down thanks to the juvenile stubbornness of the current president, who decided to leave the national parks open, sans rangers to watch over things, badly intended individuals (Aka: “Tourons“) have decided to take the opportunity to trash and vandalize with impunity. “It’s a free-for-all,” Dakota Snider, who lives and works in Yosemite, tells the AP. “It’s so heartbreaking. There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rules than I’ve seen in my four years living here.” From here.

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