Monthly Archives: August 2014

Hurricane Marie Waves Trash Aliso Beach


3 days of incredible hurricane driven waves trash Aliso Beach with heavy surf and higher tides.  This is so much the case that some of the South Orange County Beaches in the Laguna area including Aliso Beach, have significantly changed.  With Hurricane Marie waves in the 8-15 foot range and sometimes bigger for 3 days, the beach erosion has been significant, and the damage to Aliso Beach is quite a spectacle.  In all my years chasing waves in this area, I have never seen the kind of damage that Hurricane Marie has provided.  As I stared at the beach and noticed the drastic changes to the beach I was left speechless.  They are calling Hurricane Marie waves the South Swell of the decade.  You won’t get any argument from me there.

One of the most notable differences to Aliso Beach post high surf from Hurricane Marie is the loss of sand.  The beach has been beaten back by the powerful waves with tons of sand leaving Aliso and pulled out to sea.  Left standing is a 4 foot sand cliff that stretches a couple of feet from the sidewalk that borders the beach.  A fire ring fell victim to the pounding waves sliding down the remaining beach sand and into the water.  Most of the south end of the beach is now rocky and again, these are rocks I have never seen in my years enjoying Aliso Beach.

The most alarming part of the damage caused by Hurricane Marie Waves at Aliso Beach is the exposure of pilings from the old pier.  One particular hacked off pier piling has a piece of metal rebar protruding from the old pier stump that looks like it could impale someone.  No joke, it is that concerning.  Many years back the County of Orange decided a complete rebuild was unnecessary because the beach was better without a pier.  This was amid a Bankruptcy for Orange County and they had just found out from a consulting company that the pier would have to be rebuilt from scratch rather than the Coastal Commission Approved renovation that would cost millions less.

At the end of the day, if there wasn’t the money to rebuild the pier so be it.  My question is why didn’t the pier get fully removed.  As a wave rider at Aliso Beach, I now have to be concerned about where those pilings are.  That is pretty scary to be honest.  Hurricane Marie Waves have revealed a few skeletons in the closet for those responsible for the take down of the pier.  Rumor has it there is no plan to do anything to remove the newly exposed pilings from a time gone by long ago.  It now presents a danger and safety issue for skimmers, surfers, body boarders and swimmers.  Perhaps the beach will use natural movements of sand to bury the past once again.  For now, the eye sore and the danger is one of many issues facing Aliso Beach post Hurricane Marie Waves and we are all left to wonder how long it will be until this beautiful Laguna Beach heals itself and returns to normal.


Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Beach Waves, Aliso Creek, Aliso River, Laguna Beach, Laguna News Tagged , , , |

Aliso Beach High Surf


As predicted, Aliso Beach in Laguna, California had double overhead waves today and despite the fact that two brave souls paddled out and were surfing the mean shore break, that wasn’t the most interesting thing that I saw.  Don’t get me wrong, those two guys have some serious stones to paddle out and both were well above average surfers, but the state that waves driven by Hurricane Marie overnight left the beach in was nothing short of astounding.

With the Aliso Beach High Surf, the beach has been reduced to a shell of itself.  The sand is either sucked off the beach and out into the water or in the parking lot from the higher tides.  It is interesting to note that I have seen big waves at Aliso Beach but I have never seen the beach more torn up than I saw it this morning.  The south end of the beach was reduced to rocks.  Sand, debris and water pushed into the coastal lot at the beach.  Perhaps most shocking was the exposure of old pier pilings from the pier that was removed in 1998.  I have not seen those in decades so I was completely taken aback when I saw the cement pilings with exposed metal coming out of them.  Those could leave a mark!  Fletcher of OC Parks was down there photographing them so that they could note the location of the now dangerously exposed pilings.  I don’t know how far under the sand they were buried and am curious as to how long it will take for the sand to swallow them up and bury them to levels that makes wave riding in that area safe.  Yes, those things may be a legitimate safety hazard moving forward.

Aliso Beach high surf is predicted to stick around for a couple of days amid varying reports as to the peak of this massive hurricane swell.  Waves are being reported in the 8-15 foot range with the Wedge said to be topping out above 30 feet. Rumor has it that some of the surfers braving wedge had flotation devices in case they were to become exhausted or injured in the pounding waves.  One thing is for certain, it will take the natural ocean processes to restore Aliso Beach back to the way it was and that may take a little while.  With another couple of days of massive waves predicted, Aliso Beach High Surf will continue to wreak havoc on the beach and be dangerous to wave riders and casual observers that venture to close to the water’s edge.

You may check out the pics I took this morning from the beach in the slideshow in this piece.


aliso high surf Marie 1.JPGAliso High Surf Marie 2.jpgAliso High Surf Marie 3.jpgAliso High Surf Marie 4.jpgAliso High Surf Marie 5.jpg


Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Beach Surf, Aliso Beach Waves Tagged , , , , |

OC Lifeguards Hands Full


We are on the tail end of high surf and red flag conditions generated by tropical storms in close proximity to Southern California and storms in the Southern Hemisphere  OC Lifeguards hands full is an understatement. Even beaches that don’t typically get some of the summer wave activity had dangerously heavy waves.  OC Lifeguards, who handle the Laguna Beach and Dana Point areas, had their hands full over the last 3-5 days with a drowning and body recovery effort still going on off Salt Creek Beach.  The swimmer was said to have disappeared under a wave and never made it back to the surface.  I talked to a young lifeguard this morning and lifeguards believe he hit his head and was knocked unconscious or broke his neck and never made it back to the surface.  Our condolences go out to the family of the deceased.  For closure, the team at AlisoBeach is hoping they locate the body and soon.

Aliso Beach, Shore Break, High Surf, Dangerous Waves

Heavy Shore Break Aliso Beach

Today’s waves were still pretty heavy in the 3-6 foot range, and with a little wind, rip currents and a higher tide the waves were detonating on the sand bar.  The conditions were fun but challenging.  I am sure that OC Lifeguards are thrilled that many kids are back in school and that will also be helpful as a massive south swell arrives Wednesday and continues through Friday.  Wave heights have been predicted to be anywhere from 8 foot to 20 foot plus.  My hope is that most people stay out of the water.  You can get swept out quickly and then put your own life as well as the well being  of the lifeguards whose job it is to keep you safe.  Sometimes you can’t help it and nature catches you off guard and you need lifeguard’s help.  In this case, for most swimmers and wave riders, the waves will simply be unsafe with conditions so powerful that it is recommended you stay away unless you have tremendous experience.

With riptides and pounding shore waves today, a few friends and I were asked repeatedly if we had fins on by a young lifeguard. I watched a gal get sucked out on a body board and into a riptide.  I could tell she was gassed.  Fortunately, there was a lull in the sets.  I started paddling that way because I felt like she was ripe for doing an end over end in a wave she was not prepared for.  She laid her head down on her board and stopped paddling with her back turned to the incoming waves.  That is a really bad strategy, and where she was sitting put a bulls eye on her back for a wipe out and beat down of epic proportions.  The ocean is indiscriminate.  She can get you at any time.  As I got to her I told her, “Hey, you look tapped out are you okay?”  She agreed that she was gassed and I told her I would pull her in.  I told her not to panic and to be ready to turn to avoid an incoming wave if need be.

As I got her closer to shore, the on duty lifeguard was just coming to the water’s edge as a friend of mine was trying to point out that she was in trouble.  He seemed more fixated on myself and a couple of friends that were riding in the danger zone and rips.  Her accent was European and she clearly seemed out of place.  Not only did she not have fins but also she had some sort of aqua socks or shoes on.  In heavy surf, you have to have fins on plain and simple.  The lifeguards use fins and they are used to help them save lives.  I just don’t understand people and how naively they put themselves at risk in the ocean.  For one unlucky man and family this weekend, that underestimation of the power of the ocean ended in tragedy.

OC Lifeguards hands full but people can do them a big favor by staying out of the water when the surf is elevated.  Salt Creek and the Laguna area beaches all break with heavy shore break conditions and they will take a life or injure even the experienced.  This can happen at any time even when the surf is smaller.  Always swim or ride in front of lifeguard towers and check in with lifeguards about conditions before throwing yourself or allowing your kids out there into deadly conditions.  It could be a matter of life and death.

Aliso Beach is expecting massive waves 8-10 foot plus with larger sets Wednesday to Thursday.  If this is a family day with kids hoping to enjoy the water, it is not a good idea to come down to Aliso Beach this week.  Should you decide to come down anyways, it is recommended keeping children or any inexperienced swimmers in your party from the water.  It is just too dangerous with the increased risks of being pulled out from shore and sucked into heavy waves with bad intentions for unsuspecting beach goers.

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Beach Surf, Dana Point, Laguna News, Salt Creek, South Laguna Beach Tagged , , , , , |

Heartfelt Prayers Go Out To The Family Of The Missing Salt Creek Swimmer


For several days now, Laguna and Orange County Beach area wave riders have been gearing up for big surf with storm activity in the Southern Hemisphere and the Tropics.  To those with experience, the waves are just another good day of surf.  To children and the inexperienced, beaches in the Laguna area present serious hazards.  The wave riding community takes all of this for granted and is able to do that because experience keeps them out of deadly situations.  Today, a man said to be in his sixties swimming at Salt Creek Beach, was reported to have gone under a wave and never surfaced.  When he did not come up, family members alerted lifeguards who put together a large scale search for the missing swimmer. Those of us familiar with Salt Creek know all too well how quickly you can be slammed to the bottom.  Just like Laguna Beaches to the north, Dana Point’s Salt Creek is a dangerous shore break with pounding waves and shallow conditions.  Big waves, heavy currents and a swimmer not nearly as experienced as local wave riders is a potential disaster.  Today as I watched helicopters, coastguard vessels, OC Lifeguards on Seadoos, and 3 separate groups of lifeguards searching in the wave zone, I realized that the ocean had claimed a life today. To say that it put a damper on my day is an understatement.  What started out as a family day at the beach ended in an unexpected tragedy and the loss of a family member.

It was a classic, warm beach day.  The skies were blue, the winds were light and the ocean was a beautiful emerald green with waves stacking on the horizon. Clearly the waves were big.  As I walked back up the hill at Salt Creek I am watching the families come down the hill with little ones carrying body boards and parents lugging family beach gear down to the sand.  The majority of people coming down to the beach were trying to stuff one more beach weekend in before the kids had to go back to school.  I had already watched the helicopters, boats, Seadoos and lifeguard teams desperately search the area for the missing man.  When I left and until now, it is my belief that they have not found him.  As I passed all of these people heading down to the beach, I realized how tough a job the lifeguards had in keeping everyone safe.  They were already stretched thin searching for this man and scores of people trampled down the hill to seize a little slice of Salt Creek sand real estate and an enjoyable family day at the beach.

The AlisoBeach.Com team extends its heartfelt prayers to the family of the missing Salt Creek swimmer.  It wasn’t a good day for them.  With this tragedy it is important to discuss the dangers at Laguna area beaches including Salt Creek. This area is known for its dangerous shore break conditions.  Given that this part of the coastline faces towards the south, the summer gets intense waves from hurricanes off of Baja, Mexico and storms that swing out from around New Zealand and push energy towards us.  Waves in this region can be rough and today was no exception.

Best Practices For Enjoying Laguna Area Beaches Safely

1) Check the surf and marine reports for the days you are coming to the beach.  If heart break will result from children not being able to go in the water when it is too rough, you can avoid those days and substitute them ones with calmer ocean conditions

2)  Situate your family near a lifeguard tower and check with lifeguards on ocean conditions.  There are flags that fly on the towers that alert you to current conditions.  The flags are as follows:

Green Flag- Safe

Yellow Flag- Potential hazards use caution.

Red Flag- Dangerous conditions.

Ocean conditions are variable.  They change with incoming swells that result from storms traveling thousands of miles across the ocean.  They also change with shifting tides.  It is important to know about these so that you can keep yourself and family members safe.  If you are swimming, body surfing or body boarding a pair of swim fins is highly recommended.  At Salt Creek, lifeguards are routinely swimming out to inexperienced swimmers and body boarders with no fins.  Quite frankly, it is unsafe to not have them on.  Without fins, there is a greater danger of getting stuck in a rip tide and pulled out into the breaking waves.

Today, a man was lost to the sea in big waves and rough conditions.  That he was said not to have come up after ducking a wave sounds to me like he may have been driven into the bottom and either lost consciousness with the blow or broke his neck.  Although local wave riders deal with these types of conditions routinely, we are schooled in how to avoid getting hurt.  People that are coming to the beach that are not routinely in the water and expert swimmers would be challenged and endangered by the red flag conditions we have seen at Salt Creek today.  Again, our heartfelt prayers go out to the family of the missing Salt Creek swimmer.  I can’t imagine the heartache of the loss and how tough it was to watch the search knowing that in all likelihood that their family member did not make it.

Posted in Aliso Beach News, Dana Point, Laguna, Laguna Beach, Laguna News, Salt Creek, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Tagged , , , , , |

Aliso Beach Native Americans Would Cry Today


Aliso Beach Native Americans resided along the coast as well as the fresh water banks of Aliso Creek.  As you might expect they depended upon nature to give them the food and fresh water needed for survival.  They used acorns from live oak trees to create a mash that was cooked into a cake that was said to have the consistency of a pancake.  They used bones to create hooks used for fishing.  They ate shell fish like mussels and abalone in addition to locally caught fish.  They also have been said to eat deer, rabbits and snakes.  Over and beyond the fact that we have made the coastline a concrete jungle with paved roads loaded with cars and hillsides lined with lavish homes, Spanish Colonization, Mexican Rule and modern American life have contributed to a land today that would present some serious problems for Native Americans trying to live off the land in the Aliso Beach area.  Much like the commercial I remember vividly from my childhood of the Native American crying while in the canoe while looking at a trash riddled water way, Aliso Beach Native Americans would cry today.

While there are still live oak trees in Laguna Beach, today they have a fungus that is attributed to the Western Oak Beetle.  At one point it was scarring trees by burrowing into the bark and laying their eggs.  Now they are carrying a fungus that kills the trees.  This problem in Laguna would have made scavenging for the acorns used to make their mash cakes would have put a dent in their food supply.

Native Americans in the Aliso Beach area were also said to eat shell fish including abalone, limpets and mussels.  Abalone was nearly fished out in the 70’s and 80’s.  For the first time in nearly 30 years I saw one in a tide pool in North Laguna Beach.  Biologist and Laguna Beach advocate Nancy Caruso, is using Laguna Beach elementary schools to farm raise kelp and abalone for reintroduction to Laguna Beach.  It will be a long battle but her work and the interest of future generations may help re-establish abalone in the Laguna Beach area.  It is important to note that shell fish absorb the pollutants of the ocean and we humans haven’t been kind to our oceans.  In the Aliso Beach area, Aliso Creek has periodically been on the wrong end of the stick as it relates to sewage spills that discharge into Aliso Creek, urban runoff and pesticides that are carried to the ocean which creates the possibility that Native Americans would get sick from their consumption.  With an unexplained sea star waste disease affecting our coastline in the last 6-8 months, mussels will continue to proliferate along the Aliso Beach and Laguna Coastlines.  This would have been a good food supply for Native Americans in the Aliso Beach area but would come with the risk of making them sick.

Local fish today are probably in no better shape.  Despite the fact that the area is a protected Marine Reserve, I wouldn’t eat locally caught fish from the Aliso Beach area and would imagine it wouldn’t have been good for the Aliso Beach Native Americans.  Aliso Creek runoff and oh no we did it again accidental sewage spills discharged into the creek would have made for some tainted fish.  This includes the Steelhead Trout which was at one point plentiful in Aliso Creek.  I should also point out that Aliso Creek was a fresh water source for Native Americans and I would not drink and/or bathe in water that funky.  This is another prime example of how the environmental conditions today would make Aliso Beach Native Americans cry.

Rabbits and snakes are found in the area although they are probably not as readily available as a food source as they were in Native American times.  The golf course of the Ranch At Laguna Inn is regularly visited by deer so there are a few of those still around but pale in comparison to historical populations pre-concrete jungle.  The entire way of life of Aliso Beach Native Americans was turned upside down by Spanish and American Colonists. If Native Americans from that time period saw the Aliso Beach we love today, they would cry.  It would not sustain their natural and organic way of life.  As much as we praise development and the modern world in which we live on cell phones, pass the time on social media and get in the car every day, the development of this natural wonder through time made Aliso Beach uninhabitable whether or not Spanish and then American settlers wanted them here or not.


Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach History, Aliso Beach Stories, Aliso Creek, Aliso River Tagged , , , , |

Ring Finders Aliso Beach


As you may know, I got involved in a request for help related to locating a special pair of glasses for a young man with a recent eye surgery that required their use post operation.  Miraculously that worked out well with glasses reunited with mother and child late last week.  Most of the things lost at the beach are things like flip flops, shoes, clothing, towels, toys and sunglasses.  When you leave these things at the beach, it is typically like making a sacrifice to the beach.  You almost never recover stuff like this and fortunately, most of the time these items are lost it isn’t so financially painful that getting the items back would seriously hurt someone financially.  In the case of the recovered glasses, the expense of the custom infant glasses was exorbitant and the time it would take to manufacture and work through the insurance process was a lengthy 30 days.  Glasses may be the most likely to be turned in because people understand how important they are to the individual.  People need the glasses.  All the other items are not viewed as important and are likely discarded by beach maintenance crews at Aliso Beach.

Imagine being at Aliso Beach and realizing your 24 carat diamond wedding ring, gold necklace or fancy watch is missing.  Panic sets in as you frantically attempt to turn over every grain of sand you can hoping to find a needle in a haystack.  I think it is fair to say this situation really sucks! In trying to determine if there was a lost and found at Aliso Beach while perusing the internet, I stumbled upon this company that has created a directory of metal detecting enthusiasts who may be contracted to find those precious items lost at the beach.  Chris Turner is from Vancouver, Canada and he has built a platform organizing metal detecting experts so that those that lost precious items would know where to look to significantly increase the likelihood of recovery.  Ring Finders is the portal and clearly this is a valuable service that is producing results for people who believed there valuables could very well be lost for good.  Personally, I thought this was cool.  If you have been alive and old enough to have a really expensive piece of jewelry, more than likely you have either lost something valuable yourself or you know someone that has.

While online, I stumbled upon a  story featuring a Ring Finder Metal Detecting Expert Stan Ross who made some new, extremely grateful fans finding their wedding rings in the mounds of soft sand that make up Aliso Beach.  You may read more about Stan’s success at Aliso Beach by clicking the link above.  I am quite sure that if more people knew about this service that they would use it to their advantage.  I can’t imagine all of the wedding rings, engagement rings, watches and other valuable jewelry that is lost to the swallowing properties of Aliso Beach sand.  What I can see is that Stan Ross and Ring Finders could be used by people that lose items to the sand at Aliso Beach that they might otherwise have given up on.  That makes it a valuable, valuable service.  Stan Ross represents Ring Finders Aliso Beach and beaches in the greater Orange County, California area and coastline.  Testimonials on the Ring Finder Website and Stan Ross’ Ring Finders Blog should give those who find the website and contact information a ton of hope!


Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Beach Stories, Laguna Beach, Laguna News, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Tagged , , , , , , |

Aliso Beach Warning Signage Important


While trying to track down Fletcher, the maintenance worker who helped return a special pair of glasses to a young boy that just had a corrective eye surgery, I noticed that there were warning signs on the beach.  The Orange County Healthcare Agency in cooperation with the OC Sanitation and OC Water District, are in charge of testing the ocean water at Orange County Beaches and advising the public of elevated bacteria levels and water safety.  You can see the reports for Aliso Beach at OC Beach Info.  One of the reasons the signage at the beach is so important is that the report date on the OC Beach Info website is August 7, 2014 when in fact the signs were posted on the beach on August 5th, 2014.

Testing is done weekly to 5 times a week.  There are three statuses:

Open:  Bacteria levels fall below state standards.

Warning:  Indicates presence of elevated bacteria levels.

Closed:  Water activity is forbidden.

Aliso Beach, under the influence of Aliso Creek, urban runoff and an occasional sewage discharge, has had issues for years.  Paying attention to the Aliso Beach Warning Signage is crucial.  Posted beach warnings indicate that it is recommended to not swim, surf, skim board, body board, body surf or be in the water at all 500 feet up and down coast from the creek.  Aliso Beach is only .3 miles so the 1584 feet of beach with the recommended buffer from the Creek don’t leave much recreational ocean area to enjoy.  I hate to say it but the warning signs might as well just be a closure of the beach to all water activity.

Because of the way it is reported on the site, paying attention to the Aliso Beach Warning Signage is very important.  You will find the signs on the north side of the beach lining the sand near the parking lot and sidewalk entrances to the beach.

Warning Signs and Beach Closures at Aliso Beach will looks as follows:

Water warming, pollution warning, Aliso Beach

Advises of Elevated Levels of Bacteria

Water Closure Sign, Water Pollution Warning,

Keep Out Of Water

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach News, Laguna Beach, Laguna News, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Tagged , , |

Lost And Found


Lost and Found is an interesting concept at the beach.  People lose shoes, clothing, flip flops, hats, toys, sunglasses, wallets, driver’s licenses, credit cards and more.  Many of these items are not valuable enough to panic but when they are something valuable. what do you do? Imagine spending a nice day at Aliso Beach with family and friends.  The sun is shining, The sand is warm.  The water is an inviting blue-green iridescent color and a great way to cool off.  The light breezes from the outer waters are soothing and the magnificent backdrop of coastal mountains in Laguna make you feel like you are in an exotic place.  The kids are happy building sand castles and frolicking at the water’s edge. Parents are enjoying a well-deserved day away from work with family.  When the sun begins to set in the west, it is time to pack up and head home. In the process of that, you accidentally leave behind something valuable.  A wallet full with identification, insurance information, money and credit cards is misplaced or dropped.  A wedding ring or an expensive piece of jewelry goes missing.  A pricey pair of sunglasses is forgotten. Panic sets in and what do you do?  This question I have found is important because as I discovered last week, it takes some work to figure out who to contact to have any chance of recovering your stuff.  Committing to the process of figuring this out I was able to help return a special set of glasses to a young man who suffers from cerebral palsy and recently had a corrective eye surgery.  The glasses were necessary to support the surgical work so that an eye condition did not revert back to pre-surgery state.  Even had this not worked out, what I learned through this process may be valuable for people who lose precious things at the beach.

There are three important entities when it comes to lost and found items at Aliso Beach and you may contact me if you have no luck with them.  They are as follows:

OC Parks

OC Parks is responsible for beach maintenance and they do a great job at Aliso and all of the beach parks they service.  Their trucks are at Aliso every morning and yes, keeping the beach nice is full time work.  OC Parks also contracts out for trash removal so as of now, De Soto is another company that could play into helping locate a lost and found item.  You will be happy to know that maintenance workers do have a protocol for discovering items that appear to be of value.  The reason these very special glasses were found one week after losing them is that a representative of the group followed those instructions.  Needless to say it works.

Phone:  949-923-2283 or 949-923-2280


OC Parks Aliso Beach

This group also is responsible for Capistrano Beach, Dana Point Harbor Baby Beach, Salt Creek Beach, Table Rock. Thousand Steps Beach, Camel Point and West Street.

OC Lifeguards

OC Lifeguards keep Aliso Beach and the additional beaches listed above safe in challenging ocean conditions.  From time to time, people do turn valuable items in to lifeguards.  While probably not the most likely place to find something lost, it does happen.  If something really important goes missing, the least you can do is alert them to the item that is missing and leave your contact info.

Phone:  949-276-5050

Sand’s Cafe Aliso Beach

Perhaps the most logical place to find a lost item is the snack bar.  They do have a lost and found.  While the glasses they had were not the special glasses I was looking for, they did have a pair that was waiting to be claimed.  I think that people who find stuff and wish to turn it in would associate the snack bar as the best place to do that.  It would be one of the first places that most people would check if they lost something valuable.  They have a secure building that could protect the items and if there were personally identifiable information with the item they would be able to call from the snack bar.  It is important to note that the special glasses found were placed on the stainless steel counter railing on the snack bar with the intention of getting the glasses getting to someone that could help the owner recover them.

Phone:  949-715-0077

Sands Cafe Website

As I have found out, knowing who works at the beach and who manages the day to day operations helps people recover valuable lost items. There are no guarantees of finding lost items but there are certainly far greater odds if you don’t know who to call.  These are the best avenues to try when and if you lose something valuable at Aliso Beach.

Aliso Beach Website

Honestly, I thought this special pair of glasses were gone for good.  I knew it was a needle in a haystack type of situation but it all worked out wonderfully.  A young man does not have to wear eye patches and live in darkness until the insurance company and manufacturer get a new pair out.  While I may not be the best source for lost and found items at Aliso Beach, I do know enough about how the beach park is operated to help you if the above information does not help you.  The mother of this child will tell you to come to me first.  If that is the way you want to do it and I am in town, I will gladly help.



Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Creek, Laguna, Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach Tagged , , , |

Special Glasses Found


The AlisoBeach.Com is a fairly new website.  Although the ranking of the website is decent for the age of the website, it is still buried back on page 3 and not as easy to find as others.  I am not sure how a distressed mother found me but I got an interesting request for help Sunday August 3rd, 2014 which ended in special glasses found.  This is an awesome story that should put a smile on everyone who reads it.  This story will start with the note sent by the mother of a special needs boy pleading for help finding a medically important set of  prescription glasses.

Here is the email:

From: Nella <>
Subject: Baby glasses lost

Message Body:
My name is Nella. I visited Aliso beach on Monday this week. On Monday we lost my son’s glasses, they have a brown frame, baby size. I was hoping someone returned them to the cafe. I tried to call the cafe but was not able to find a number. If you could please please help me by contacting them I would really appreciate it, my son just had eye surgery so must wear his glasses so that the eyes won’t go back to crossing. Please help, my number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. Thank you!

I read through this email pretty quickly and was eager to help.  Catching the message on my IPhone, I may have somehow missed that the day that the special glasses were lost was the previous Monday.  I called Nella to tell her that I was heading to Laguna and that I would check with the lifeguards and the Snack Bar at Aliso Beach.  This is when I found out that her son Matthew had Cerebral Palsy and very special needs. He recently had a surgery to correct a condition that crossed his eyes and really needed those glasses. Sadly enough, neither the lifeguards nor the snack bar staff had seen the glasses.  Because I was thinking that the glasses were lost the day prior, I sifted through the sand where Nella indicated they sat on the beach on that day with an enthusiasm and belief that I would find them in the sand.  It turned up nothing.  Helping Nella and her son out was something I had hoped would produce a much happier result.  I called Nella to tell her that I came up empty. It saddened me.  I was determined to help her despite the lack of good news and offered to help her purchase a new pair of glasses.  Apparently the larger problem with the glasses is the time it takes to work through the insurance company to get a new pair made and delivered.  Thirty days is the wait time with the alternative to the glasses being the need to put eye patches over Matthew’s eyes.  The thought of a child in darkness and not able to see his mother and father tugs at the heart and I would not let this go.

I was down but was not out.  Having spent a lot of time in the water at Aliso Beach for nearly 3 decades, I decided to lean on friends that also spend time in the water at Aliso.  I tagged a bunch of Aliso Beach wave riders with a post asking for help and not surprisingly, there was willingness to try and help. Brennan Clarke, an Aliso Beach Surfer known for tackling the biggest waves this Laguna Beach produces, talked about going down to see maintenance on the beach. This was crucial because it helped crack the code of the different entities that work at Aliso Beach that could help in tracking down the glasses.  I see the trucks every time I am down there but had not given that any thought.

On Monday, I left several messages down at OC Parks the county organization responsible for overseeing and maintaining Aliso Beach.  I got no response although I think Monday is an off day for the office manager. On Tuesday after a second and third message I heard back from Supervisor Steve Bonhall who told me he would talk to his employees as well as De Soto which helps keep the beach clean with trash removal.

On that Tuesday I sent the following email to Steve:

Hi Steve,


Thank you kindly for getting back to me.  Matthew is my new friend and he needs our help! As I have indicated he has cerebral palsy and recently had a surgery to correct an eye issue that requires this pair of special glasses.  I know it may be a long shot but maybe a little extra effort on our part is all that we need.  I am hopeful anyways and appreciate your agreeing to help.


Matthew is pictured in the attachment with glasses!  Thank you very much!



Rob Brack

Website Founder

I included in the email an attachment of a picture of Matthew with his glasses so that I could humanize the glasses and story as well as  give more importance to the need to find the special glasses. Steve told me he would email me if he had any luck and email me he did.  He said that he thought he found them but needed to see a better picture of the glasses.  I gave him Nella’s number and as it turns out, the glasses belong to the little guy and I couldn’t have been happier.

Fletcher, OC Parks, Fletcher finds special glasses, Aliso Beach

OC Parks Fletcher Finds Young Boy’s Special Glasses!

I confirmed the good news with Nella and offered to drive them up to Alhambra as soon as I picked them up.  This morning I had the pleasure of shaking hands with Steve Bonhall after I rudely interrupted his meeting with staff down at OC Parks in Dana Point Harbor.   He explained to me that his guy Fletcher had them in his truck.  With glasses in hand, I drove Pacific Coast Highway and decided to stop off at Aliso Beach in search of Fletcher.  As I drove south in the coastal parking lot at Aliso Beach, I noticed a tall guy with a pony tail getting sand out of the parking lot.  In my mind I was thinking that this had to be the guy!  It was!  The facilities at Aliso Beach are always so neatly groomed and Fletcher is definitely a big part of the pride OC Parks works with in keeping Aliso Beach a desirable place to visit.  I shook his hand thanking him while explaining the importance of these glasses to this family and young boy.  Semi-reluctantly, he agreed to take a picture with the glasses he found that I am using in this story.  I did this because I wanted to put a face to the most important person in making this happen.  Humanizing a story is important in my opinion because the events that unfolded to get glasses back to Matthew involved real people that cared enough to help a family and a child.  It sends a powerful message!  Fletcher explained that the OC Parks has a policy for items found on the beach that appeared to be valuable.  He put them in the truck and the glasses slipped his mind.  He made sure that I knew that someone else played a role in this.  The glasses were placed by an unknown angel on the metal rail in the snack bar area so someone that could help would find them.

Today the glasses found their way into the hands of FedEx and will deliver to a family and young boy tomorrow.  The thought of eye patches and darkness for Matthew really gnawed at me.  I did not want that for Matthew and nor would I for any child.  I thank God for the opportunity to help and am deeply grateful to the parties that all offered to help to make this happen.  August 6th, 2014 is a very happy day for me personally and when Fed Ex rolls up to the family’s home in Alhambra, California with the glasses, it will be a relief and a very happy day for the them.  Thank you Steve, Janice, Brennan, Fletcher, OC Lifeguards, and OC Parks for your role in a very good thing!  I feel blessed to have been involved.

I would also like to thank Nella for the opportunity to help Matthew and her family.  Sometimes getting help is simply the result of asking for it. Sometimes being able to provide that help involves a little luck and wanting to actually provide it!  I am thrilled this worked out.  I don’t see this as an end to my relationship with this family.  Nella has told me that the gesture of wanting to help impacted her heart in a very memorable and meaningful way.  Nella and family love Aliso Beach and she has indicated she would reach out to me when they come down again!  I look forward to that very much.  She tells me that Matthew is quite the water enthusiast and that he could not get enough of the water.  We must be related I love that beach and water there as well.  I look forward to meeting them.



Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Events, Aliso Beach News, Laguna, Laguna Beach, Laguna News, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Tagged , , , , |

Aliso Beach Lightning Strike Dangers


I found myself at Aliso Beach yesterday due to the request of a young mother that needed help finding a very specialized pair of sunglasses for an infant with some challenges after a recent eye surgery.  The last several days and over the last 7-10 days, we have experienced weather characterized by warm tropical air, the presence of threatening, black clouds, short periods of measurable rain and the occasional episode of thunder and lightning.  It was nothing to fear really, or was it? Around a week ago, Southern California beach goers were put on notice about the dangers of lightning strikes at the beach.  A young Southern California surfer was struck by lightning and killed.  The team at would like to extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the family of this young man who has left us too early.  Reports differ on whether or not he was in the water or not but it may be that he had finished surfing and had gone back down to the water’s edge to rinse off.  Additionally, a group playing beach volleyball were hit and affected as the lighting struck Venice Beach.  there were 13 reported injuries and it looks like they all managed to avoid severe injuries and are doing okay.

Are there Aliso Beach Lightning Strike Dangers?  The answer to that is yes, although it is rare.  A Nat Geo Daily News Article covering the Venice Beach lightning strike quotes John Jensenius, a lighning specialist with the National Weather Service as saying that the 10 year average number of deaths due to lightning strikes in the US as being 33 a year and that the number is coming down over time due to better preparedness.  Nat Geo also quotes NASA Climatologist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Bill Pazert, as saying the odds of getting struck by lightning are 1 in 7.5 million. Aliso Beach yesterday had that tropical feel.  It was warm, humid and a mixture of high tropical clouds and sun with an iridescent ocean water color.  It was a little eerie.  There were moments of sun and then moments of the sun being blotted out by the tropical clouds.  There was nothing that led me to believe that the beach would see an episode like in late July on Venice Beach.  I must admit though, the possibility was on my mind.  I finished my search for the specialized sunglasses and despite checking with lifeguards and the snack bar, came up empty.  I did everything I could and wish the result was better! After leaving my info with lifeguards and the snack bar to get back with me should the glasses be found, I ran errands in town.  There were brief episodes of light rain and sun and clouds arm wrestling for which would influence the weather in the Aliso Beach area more.  After getting all of those things done, I met up with a friend Jack to body board at Salt Creek.  I got a text from my mom saying that she had heard thunder and lightning at their house and wondered whether or not there was anything to worry about paddling out.  Despite the recent and rare event, I liked my odds. Jack and I paddled out at Salt Creek.  There were some seriously threatening clouds and it occurred to me that being in the water was not a good idea.  The tide was going low yesterday evening and despite the surf being on the small size, the waves were crashing in a way that kind of rumbled a little.  I would swear to you that I heard the clouds rumbling and yet there were no episodes of lightning.

Just as Venice Beach experienced a rare event, under those conditions, so to could have Aliso Beach, Salt Creek or any other beach under the influence of this type of weather.  The time in the water was enjoyed, but it did not come without angst and keeping an eye on those clouds. Those that witnessed and or experienced the event in Venice Beach indicate there was no warning.  To people that go to the beach and see warm days with partially cloudy and overcast skies, there really isn’t anything to worry about.  In one instant, a life was lost and a number of other people were injured.  The Nat Geo Article also indicates that lifeguards try and get people out of the water 30 seconds after thunder and with so many people in the water or near it, that is a tall order to keep everyone safe.  Remember that direct lightning strikes are rare and that most injuries occur because the current travels along the ground with the strike.  Advice on how to stay safe from lightning strikes includes getting in doors, not lying on the ground, and staying away from metal fixtures and cords that could conduct electricity.  While the odds of a lightning strike at Aliso Beach is not all that great, monsoonal flows like we have experienced over the last several weeks have increased the chances of their being events along our coastline.  Generally speaking, there is nothing to worry about at Aliso Beach or any of our Southern California Beaches.  If there is thunder or lightning, it is recommended that people stay indoors until at least 30 minutes after the last episode of thunder.

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Events, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Creek, Aliso River Tagged , , |