Monthly Archives: November 2014

Reflecting Back On My 2013 Thanksgiving Near Drowning

2013 THANKSGIVING NEAR DROWNING

The bottom line is that I got a second chance.  By luck, the Grace of God, God’s good humor, determination or will to live, I made it and am living to tell about it.  My 2013 Thanksgiving Near Drowning event at Salt Creek in Dana Point, California, has without question caused me to reflect back and put life in perspective.  It should virtually be flat tomorrow, Thanksgiving 2014, and I may be found walking the shore staring out over the ocean. Recently I had a conversation with JR, the only friend and ally that I had in my near death experience on Thanksgiving 2013, and I found some things out I hadn’t really discussed previously.  When you are coughing up salt water and nearly blacking out, the finer details of the experience really don’t come into focus.  Your immediate thoughts are, “Wow!  I dodged a bullet.” and “Am I going to be okay?  I laid on my board in a full wet suit unable to move for nearly 45 minutes.  It was so concerning to a particular set of beach visitors that they offered to call 911 on each side of their walk down the beach and back. Swallowing sea water is both a terrifying and sickening ordeal as it literally causes you to be heavy, and makes you sick to your stomach.  There is a reason you can’t drink salt water!  The body rejects it!

The conversation was built around a scenario where a mutual friend Jack exited the water several weeks ago a little shook up.  I had an eye on him, and when he got to the beach safely I felt like I didn’t need to check on him.  This conversation with JR and I was basically Jack heckling me for not being more concerned about his well-being, and JR laughed.  It took a millisecond to blurt at JR that he nearly watched my 2013 Thanksgiving Near Drowning.  It was one of those knee jerk responses,but before I could stop my mouth, it came flying out.  His response was telling.  Apparently, he had been slapped around pretty good himself but was in a much safer spot than I was when the long set of double overhead waves bore down on us.  Honestly, there was size and the set waves were big, but I have seen waves like that many times before.  The thing that really put me in a bad spot was giving up my board and swallowing an ocean full of water underneath one of the waves.  As soon as I swallowed the water the dangers were very real because I couldn’t get under the waves far enough. With a chest full of water I was a sitting duck for wave after wave which resulted in some pretty intense beatings.  It felt like someone handed me a grand piano while I was struggling and in moments failing to keep my head above water.  I remember being suspended under water dazed and confused wondering if this was it.  By this time I was in the mind set of letting go. Everything became very bright and I started slipping into an inner peace that mad it okay to go right then and there.  What followed was a dose of reality punching me in the face and a reacquired sense of urgency motivating me to make sure this is not how I would go out.   The worst thing you could do to a mom that expected you at the dinner table on Thanksgiving would be to not show up because you managed to drown in the ocean and big waves.  When I sort of woke up from my salt water stupor, I instinctively rolled to my back and kicked for shore.  When I got to shore I was weak and had no legs, stumbling and collapsing on the shore with heart racing and out of breath.  It was intense.  I learned after the fact from JR in the most recent conversation that the waves were in the 10-12 foot range.  I ate every bit of a set that JR called 14 waves deep.  It was impossible to count the waves with each succeeding blow to my chances of survival.  There were warnings about a powerful and fast moving swell with sneaker sets for west facing beaches that day.  It certainly wasn’t the biggest I have been out in at Salt Creek, but it produced an experience I will never forget.

In reflecting back on my 2013 Thanksgiving Near Drowning Event, it is cemented in my mind what a gift life is.  There is no guarantee for tomorrow and while I, like many wave riders, am unfazed by the power of the ocean most of the time,  my respect level for it rose to new heights. The curtain almost fell on me that day and I am glad that it didn’t.  One of the most amazing things about getting out of that life threatening situation is that I realize how crucial swim lessons as a kid were.  I literally could not move in a way that would allow me to dive under the waves once I swallowed a bunch of sea water.  I could not lift my arms to free style swim to shore.  My only hope was a wounded but effective backstroke that was just good enough to bring me to shore safely.  That was the kind of scenario that swim lessons prepare you for, and without them I was toast.  Today, I am extremely grateful to be alive.  I have a renewed enthusiasm for everything that I am doing, and while taking one day at a time, I take nothing for granted.  I look at the natural world around me wide-eyed and with a smile of quiet content that reflects my respect for the gift and blessing that is my life.  Being around for Thanksgiving 2014 is a testament to the human will to live and the ability of people in their worst moments to use skills they have learned over a life time to carry them through the toughest of times.  So while I am very thankful this year,  my feeling is that if I inspire one person to fight for their own life, and to approach the world thankful for what they have and looking forward to each day as a blessing and an opportunity, then I would say that is the impact I would like to have on others anywhere and everywhere, and as much as I can.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

 

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

Tom Sawyer Summer Camp Saved My Life

 TOM SAWYER CAMP SAVED MY LIFE

I grew up with parents who worked extremely hard to make sure that my sister and I had plenty of constructive things to do even when things were financially tight.  They always stretched dollars to make sure we went to private school and were able to go to summer camp when school let out at the end of the year.  If you live in Pasadena, Altadena, La Crescenta, La Canada and much of the San Gabriel Valley, you have probably heard of Tom Sawyer Camps once or twice or may even have or know a kid or two that attends the summer session.  There are a lot of things that my sister and I were exposed to that we may have not done otherwise.  We went rock climbing, sailing and horseback riding which are all things she and I are grateful to have had the chance to do, but that isn’t how Tom Sawyer Camp saved my life.  No, it wasn’t the silly songs at the logs to begin and close the day at camp and it wasn’t trying to find another group’s fort to capture their flag with the finder’s prize a watermelon for the group.  It was the swim lesson’s through Tom Sawyer Camp given at La Canada High School that saved my life.

I would not say I grew up to be an exceptional swimmer from a technical stand point.  The breast stroke was particularly challenging to me and when it came to the testing phase for swimming levels, this one always seemed to trip me up. I also didn’t particularly like the butterfly stoke with the rotations of the arms and shoulders not feeling to comfortable.  In defense of my lack of interest in these two swimming strokes I will remind everyone that some of our Olympic swimmers focus on one discipline and not everyone can be Michael Phelps, an elite swimmer in every discipline.  Sure I sucked at two different strokes, but I had nothing to hang my head about.  What I did learn was the gift of swimming.  In previous posts, I told you that I was blessed to have the ability to pull a couple of swimmers out of the water that were in real trouble.  One of them was drowning when I got to him and the other got in a rip tide, panicked, out of breath and calling out for help.  I don’t offer this to you to brag in any way and believe that God wanted me there to help. All I did was answer those calls for help drawing on what I know, much of which was taught to me at Tom Sawyer Camp.  One of the markets I visit for lunch during the work week has this cool girl who asks me how the beach was.  I show up in trunks, flip flops and sand everywhere a lot.  In that conversation I asked her if she liked the beach and she told me she didn’t swim.  As far as I am concerned she is still a baby and can be taught to swim as long as she can overcome her fears.  I have encouraged her to do it knowing how big a gift learning to swim has been.  In fact, beyond all of the body boarding I have done over 30 plus years, it saved my life Thanksgiving 2013.

Salt Creek, Dana Point, 11th Hole, Winter Waves

Salt Creek Dana Point Mid Winter

Just the other day, I was at Salt Creek and getting out of the water when I ran into a friend JR.  He told me that our mutual friend Jack was on his way and so I hung out in the parking lot waiting for him to show.  Somehow a conversation with Jack, JR and I spun into Jack cracking on me for not leaving the epic waves in the previous weeks sessions to check to make sure he was okay.  I had to remind Jack that I did notice he was leaving the water funny and that after keeping an eye on him it seemed as though he was okay.  Jack’s snide comment drew laughter from JR who I forcefully reminded that he nearly watched my drown at Salt Creek on Thanksgiving 2013.  The waves slapped me around so good that I couldn’t tell you where JR was or wasn’t but after I took what JR says was 14 large waves on the head, I found him on the shore asking if I was okay.  We didn’t really speak about it much after that day.  I knew that he counted I 14 double overhead waves (12 foot) that took a beating from.  What I didn’t realize is he took the first several waves on the head and was closer to shore when my near drowning event occurred.

So it was me all alone in the water and having to fend for myself.  I chose to let my board go to shore and swim under waves.  The problem was on a deep breath I swallowed what felt like half the ocean.  My chest and upper body filled up with water and I felt so heavy I couldn’t maneuver to dive under the waves.  The result was a violent thrashing about to the point of nearly blacking out.  I remember, with eyes wide open and under the salt water, thinking that this was my time.  For a split second I was okay with that and I had accepted it.  All I could think about was my mom.  Not that other family and friends wouldn’t be deeply affected by my passing like this, but the woman who gave birth to me and ruining her Thanksgiving was a powerful thought.  My will to fight had just kicked into overdrive with what in many ways has turned out to be the fight of my life.  My chest was still full of water and I couldn’t move very well.  I started to a free style swim towards the shore and realized swallowing all of the salt water had made me significantly less than buoyant.  Thinking I was toast, the Tom Sawyer Camps swim lessons kicked in.  I rolled to my back kicking and rotating my arms back past my head in a fight to remain in the living.  I made it to shore Thank God.

Swimming is something you simply have to know how to do even if it is just so if you are the only one in life saving distance from someone drowning you can keep them safe.  Even beyond that swimming is a gift that may be used to keep your self safe and perhaps even save your own life.  I can 100% attest to this.  I have lived to tell this story.  While many readers are not in the service area for Tom Sawyer Camps, I will encourage anyone that does not how to swim to take lessons.  The decision to learn to swim or give your children swimming lessons could one day save a life.  For those of you that live in areas that Tom Sawyer Camps service, your kids will enjoy their summers and learn the life saving skills of swimming and CPR.  While there were and are plenty of other activities at Tom Sawyer Camp to keep children busy with, it is swimming lessons at Tom Sawyer Camp that saved my life.

Posted in Aliso Beach Website Founder Rob Brack, Dana Point, Rob Brack, Salt Creek Tagged , , , , , |

Weekend At Aliso Beach

WEEKEND AT ALISO BEACH

There are few days that I am not close enough to Aliso Beach to visit and I love that.  One would think that Aliso Beach would get old and that I would need to stay away to tap into memories that crystallize how special this little spot in Laguna is.  I don’t know why, but I find it challenging to grow tired of the place and each and every visit there is a gift that I can share with you using words and show you in pictures but fall miserably short when trying to help you understand how it feels to be there.  Pictures I am sure help, but Aliso Beach is a doing experience and not an accepting my words at face value.  I guess what I am saying is that in order to experience the tranquility and beauty at Aliso Beach, you will have to do the work and get there.  I promise you that whatever it is that is bothering you, stressing you or angering you will cease when you dip 10 toes in the soft sand and cool waters of Aliso Beach.  You simply have to get to Aliso Beach!

For those of you far away from Aliso Beach and needing to plan a visit, I will continue to send you visual reminders of what it is like to be there and the types of things you will see.  Due to being there often, even a weekend at Aliso Beach produces challenges to show you a different view, but with each and every day this natural setting guarantees to produce something magically interesting to lure me into pressing the button on my IPhone4S.  Never to be confused as a professional photographer, I still like to try and come up with moments in time from the weekend at Aliso Beach that delight people.

I find myself fascinated by the sun.  The sun does a final dance at Aliso when it sets over the Pacific in the west and getting eclipsed by the backside of Catalina Island as it falls below the horizon.  It has me thinking that the sunset on the western shores of Catalina must be absolutely staggering!  As the sun nears its curtain call from the vantage point of Aliso Beach, its glow lights up the sky with bright oranges and pinks that dance with the clouds in a magnificent display of Mother Nature painting the heavens.  It is at these times that I find the noise in life most quiet.  Even among strangers on the beach I notice that the talking comes to an end as if people know by instinct that those fleeting moments of light are meant to usher in a silence that heals.  You can hear yourself think and yet you don’t have to be thinking at all.  Absorbing the natural mystic has to be one of the most balancing experiences there are and people flock to Aliso Beach to enjoy the peace found in the sun setting over the ocean at Aliso Beach.

There wasn’t much new to report from the weekend at Aliso Beach.  The flowing creek created a double cliff on the north side of the beach and once again the detail left in the sand wall as a result of fresh water carving through it was quite remarkable.  Kids took advantage of the larger sand cliff to slide and tumble down its crumbling walls beneath their feet.  Children were all smiles and giddy with the ability to slide down the bank of sand and even take a tumble or two down the soft sand to the bottom where they simply laughed it off and climbed back up to do it all over again.  Interestingly enough there was a little guy who I noticed was talking to himself on the other side of the creek.  He was trying to get the attention of a little girl who was tumbling down the sand embankment on the other side.  His message to her was not fall into the 135000 gallons of sewage down in the creek waters below her game of sandy tumble and slide. It seems rare that a child that young is so well versed in the dangers of the water in Aliso Creek. If he is talking about it then he must have some concerned parents who have warned him of the Creek and its long history of issues.

There was a family taking holiday portraits against the backdrop of an incredible sunset.  The professional photographer showed me how incredible the shots looked and there are few places in the world that can produce that type of magic for family portraits.  Aliso Beach is one of those places.  I did offer her opportunities to feature and promote her business on this website and the quality of her work is more than worthy. That couple with their children will be pleased without a doubt!  The weekend at Aliso Beach was capped off by a couple of amazing sunsets.  The seagulls danced in the wind, families enjoyed the warm weather and warm water till dark, and beach goers drank up every last ounce of sun before it sank below the western horizon to bring sunlight to another part of the world. And yes, it will return again in the morning to start the day anew! ounce of sun before it sank below the western horizon to bring sunlight to another part of the world. And yes, it will return again in the morning to start the day anew!  

November 15 Aliso Beach Castles Made Of Sand.jpgNovember 15 Aliso Beach Super Chicken.jpgNovember 15th Aliso Beach Cruising the Gorge.jpgNovember 15th Aliso Beach One Last Skim.jpgNovember 16th Aliso Beach A Seagull Father And Daughter.jpgNovember 16th Aliso Beach Far More Dangerous Than It Looks.jpgNovember 16th Sun Of A Chemtrail.jpg

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Sun Down Aliso Beach

SUN DOWN ALISO BEACH Sunset at Aliso Beach is fascinating this time of year.  Truthfully, it is fascinating all of the time because it is breathtaking when the sun sets out over the Pacific Ocean and then disappears behind Catalina Island.  This time of year, late fall, is especially interesting as the season marches toward the winter solstice.  In late Fall of 2014, Aliso Beach still has ocean water temperatures in the mid to upper 60 degree temperatures and this combined with high pressure, offshore winds and warm temps has beach visitors in trunks and bikinis enjoying all that the beach lifestyle has to offer.  What started out as a desire to monitor and photograph the return of sand to the beach has me spending time immersed in the experience of Sun Down Aliso Beach.  Because of all the people taking advantage of weather that most parts of the country don’t enjoy this time of year, there are some interesting opportunities to show the ways people enjoy the beach.  Fires at the pits, leisurely strolls, skim boarding, a baseball game of catch, beach volleyball, Bocci Ball, sunset watching, reading, body boarding, swimming, body surfing and sand cliff diving are all interest things I have seen at Aliso Beach just before sun down.  One never knows when winter is going to grab the season by the neck and shake the beach into a more seasonal weather pattern and drop the water temperatures to something that will chase most casual beach visitors and non-wave riders from the beaches until it warms up again.  The beauty of Southern California is that you can have the unseasonably warm weather appear just about any time high pressure decides to park itself off the west coast.  For those worried about water and severe drought conditions, warm and dry weather is probably a bit excessive but let’s be real, Southern California is for the most part a coastal desert and these types of weather conditions are not abnormal.  Yes, we need the rain!  Until we get it, you can expect that all of the Endless Summer enthusiasts down at Aliso Beach will take full advantage.  Why not!!? Enjoy more interesting IPhone 4S Photos of Sun Down Aliso Beach! 

Aliso Beach Climbers Shadow November 8 2014.jpgAliso Beach Community Sea Gull Bath Zone November 8 2014.jpgAliso Beach Injured While Playing In The Sand LOL November 8 2014.jpgAliso Beach Last Call For Sun November 8 2014.jpgAliso Beach Late Fall Beach Weather Warm Water.jpgAliso Beach River Play November 8 2014.jpgAliso Beach River Trickle November 8 2014.jpgAliso Beach Sand River Wall Face Plant November 8 2014.jpgAliso Beach Slide To The Creek  Not As Fun As They Thought.jpgAliso Beach Sun Down Last Daily Chemtrail Starting November 8 2014.jpgAliso Beach Sun Set Match November 8 2014.jpgAliso Creek November 8 2014.jpg

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Get Your Sunset On

Aliso Beach Flame Thrower.jpgAliso Beach Kids Enjoying the Sand Cliffs Create By Flowing Aliso Creek.jpgAliso Beach Mom Watches Kids Flinging Themselves Down Sand Cliffs.jpgAliso Beach Palm trees With A Glowing Sunset And Offshore Ocean Texture From The Hill.jpgAliso Beach Photographer On The Move For Better Sunset View.jpgAliso Beach Solitary Sunset Soak Up.jpgAliso Beach Sunset With Beach Chairs Friends And A Watchful Seagull.jpgAliso Beach Visitors Striking A Fun Sunset Pose.jpgc97-Aliso Beach Mom Watches Kids Flinging Themselves Down Sand Cliffs.jpgNovember 3rd Aliso Beach One Fire Out One Fire On.jpg
GET YOUR SUNSET ON

 

What does that even mean to get your sunset on?  If I were to dismiss modern culture and vernacular, I could be totally “Leave It To Beaver” and say how do you enjoy Aliso Beach Sunsets or how do you take your sunsets, but I don’t want to be confused with someone stuck in that era and nor do I want to demonstrate age and reluctance to adopt the here and now.  Aliso Beach is a magical spot in Laguna Beach California that produces some of the most spectacular sunsets on the planet.  You can view them from the beach below or from the cliff lining the south end of the beach along South Pacific Coast Highway.  It is very easy to get lost in the fleeting moments of the sun at Aliso Beach, and the feeling when under the spell of one of these sunsets is truly indescribable.  I can tell you it feels wondrously peaceful and magnificent.  The sound of waves caressing the sandy shore drowns out the noise of the busy life. Waves rushing up the sandy, sloping beach at Aliso permeate the air with a refreshing sea salt smell that invigorates even the most stress ravaged souls.  Talking slows to a crawl in a needed retreat free of televisions, radios, social media, bosses, rules, regulations, responsibilities, cars, traffic, deadlines, and yes I could fill this page out with more things contributing to the madness we deal with every day.  You can actually hear yourself think, and it is entirely possible to not think at all and just become absorbed in the beauty of our natural world.

Our environment is an amazing gift and when you get your Aliso Beach Sunset On, it is hard to imagine that you are not reminded of this. We have had a warm beginning to fall as if the Rain Gods have not heard our drought worry pleas for water this year.  The ocean temps are 68-70 degrees still and high pressure lingers off the West Coast sending fresh water storm deliveries from systems originating in the Gulf of Alaska far to the north of Southern California and deepening our water concerns.  The result of this weather pattern in addition to adding to drought fears and water rationing rhetoric, is incredible sunsets with skies clear enough to make it seem like you could paddle a board across the ocean to Catalina in a few minutes.  That might be far fetched to get to Catalina that quick but I will note that for whatever reason, the clarity of the air made this particular November 6th 2014 sunset at Aliso Beach memorable. With high pressure driven Santa Ana Conditions, prevailing offshore winds often push haze and pollution over Catalina so in some cases, Aliso Beach sunsets give you a more abstract view of the island.  Last night the view was crisp and clear.  It was so amazing that I got in the car to leave the parking lot on the ocean side and was compelled to pull over to the side on Pacific Coast Highway to catch a view from the hill above.  I could not escape! There are many ways to get your Aliso Beach Sunset On.  Romantic strolls, adult beverages among friends (If you get caught with alcohol on the beach it is an ugly and expensive ticket), sand cliff diving (Using the banks of a flowing Aliso Creek), sitting with friends and family with a warm fire using the fire pits), catching a wave just before dark, playing game of catch with gloves and a baseball, sitting in beach chairs to soak up the last ounces of daily sun and photographing the event.

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Aliso Beach Same Place Same Thing

November 3rd Aliso Beach Moon Gazing.jpgNovember 3rd Aliso Beach One Fire Out One Fire On.jpgNovember 3rd Aliso Beach Sunset Shared.jpgNovember 3rd Aliso BeachThe Crossing.jpgNovember 3rd Aliso BeachThe Gathering.jpg
Aliso Beach Same Place Same Thing

 

You would think that Aliso Beach would get old. How many times can you post a sunset, a sea gull, a pelican, a wave or any other subject you find interesting at this Laguna Beach gem?  As I was reminded by a new friend made at Aliso Beach, we have to enjoy and be thankful for what we have because with the state of the world, there are no guarantees we have all of those wonderful,places tomorrow.  Aliso Beach is one of those wonderful places.  While to some, photographs from this sandy Laguna Beach represents Aliso Beach Same Place Same Thing and every time the sun rises in the east and warms this beach, it is anything but same place and same thing.  No two days are alike in everything we do and yet humanity tries to box itself in to patterns that make sense of everything.  Aliso Beach allows me to simultaneously absorb the beauty of its coastal landscape and remember how lucky we are to have beaches like this one.  It truly is a gift and very difficult to explain.  In our busy world, routines and digital lives, it is becoming harder and harder to find peace and I feel like everyone needs a place like Aliso Beach to help balance them.  It is one of those places that you can sit on a park bench and watch the sun disappear behind the veil of the salt liquid wonderland with a quiet that allow you to hear yourself think.  All of the noise somehow becomes muted and calm, relaxation and joy return like they never went away.  Oddly enough, this calmness arrives despite the fact that the beach is not protected from the hustle and bustle of Pacific Coast Highway traffic and despite the fact that you are not alone at the beach with others taking it all in.  When I think about it, I can say that during sunset events, people talk less.  Sometimes less is more and the need to talk takes a backseat to the peace that is readily available in getting lost and found in the natural rhythms of sea as the close of another day occurs right before our eyes.  To some it may be Aliso Beach Same Place Same Thing, but I think as evidenced by many people coming to this beach to take in sunsets, each new day is an opportunity to be reminded how amazing our home is and what a gift it truly is.  Aliso Beach is one of those places that makes it impossible to forget how blessed we really are.

 

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Interesting Aliso Beach Weekend

Aliso Beach Cloud With Antlers.jpgAliso Beach Flame Thrower.jpgc0-November 2nd One Couple Leaving Wet Another Tempting Fate.jpgc21-Aliso Beach Cloud With Antlers.jpgc99-November 2nd One Couple Leaving Wet Another Tempting Fate.jpgNov 1 Aliso Beach Miniature chocolate river wave.jpgNovember 1st A River Runs Through It.jpgNovember 1st Aliso Beach Splash And Grab Your Attention.jpgNovember 1st Aliso Water Warning Imagine That.jpgNovember 1st Bird and a Sunset.jpgNovember 1st Catching A Glow Ball.jpgNovember 1st Cosmic Aliso.jpgNovember 1st Day Closing To Glow.jpgNovember 1st Dirth Mouth Clean it Up.jpgNovember 1st House Glow Storm Clouds.jpgNovember 1st Landing Gear Down.jpgNovember 1st Moon Has His Back.jpgNovember 1st River Reflects Sky.jpgNovember 1st The Aliso River Shuffle.jpgNovember 2nd Dangerous Bocce Ball Boneheads.jpgNovember 2nd Like Wife Like Husband All Wet.jpgNovember 2nd One Couple Leaving Wet Another Tempting Fate.jpgNovember 2nd Sand Design By Water.jpgNovember 2nd Toxic Splatter.jpg
INTERESTING ALISO BEACH WEEKEND

Aliso Beach Clouds, Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Park

Day after Halloween Storm Cloud

Halloween Weekend was an interesting weekend at Aliso Beach.  In what seems like a decade, we got our first rain of the season Halloween Night and then were the benefactors of an encore performance Saturday Night with showers into the early morning hours.  Many in the wave riding community have jumped the gun and assumed that the waters of Laguna Beach would turn ice cold.  While some will tell you that they are breaking in their full suits some of those very same people are complaining how hot they are while in the water with that much rubber and neoprene.  You guys put those on so you get to wear them!  The air associated with this storm wasn’t terribly cold and the affects of this wet early winter storm passing through had no real affect on the water temperatures which remained on Sunday.  Yes, I am excited to still be wearing trunks and a rash guard on November 1st of 2014.  It’s awesome and a rare occurrence.  As I continued to document the return of sand at Aliso Beach post Hurricane Marie with my pre-historic Iphone 4S on the Saturday after a night of trick or treating for the youngsters, I was surprised to find casual beach visitors (non-wave riders) in trunks and bikinis jumping into the water and thinking nothing of it.  Even to someone not in the water every day, the water temperatures remain warm and comfortable. I am certain that warm temperatures are on a short leash as we march through fall towards winter and the change to waves and weather out of the northern hemisphere, but I will make no apologies for enjoying the water temps while they are still worthy of skipping a full wet suit.

While making my rounds and snapping pictures of the sand levels on the beach and rocks exposed by waves powered by Hurricane Marie slowly disappearing beneath the returning sand, I struck up a conversation with a stranger that would later introduce herself as Trina.  She was there with her daughter.  Our talk was built around a comment I made about the grassy area around the palm tree that appears to be dying.  The grass was once protected by a cement curb and Hurricane Marie pushed salt water up the beach so fiercely that it broke off the cement part of the planter and dug away at the roots of the tree.  The grass area around the tree began to die as sand and salt water were pushed into the the soil anchoring the grass.  Tides and waves since have pushed sand over the top of the grass which I will assume is choking out the grass.  We talked for about a half hour on everything from how bad Aliso Beach got after Hurricane Marie and how nature was working to put it all back together to politics and the state of our world.  As it turned out she was from Sylmar and for whatever reason, Aliso Beach was a place she came with family to find peace.  It was also a place that was important to her because it gave her the opportunity to share with her daughter some of the good things and special places in our world.  She expressed the belief that showing young people like her daughter how beautiful places like Aliso Beach were would inspire the young to appreciate what they have and perhaps encourage them to lead changes to protect our beautiful, natural world.  I gave her an arm to hang on as she left because she was recovering from a knee replacement surgery and needed to navigate the uneven sand back up onto the paved area of the parking lot.  It gave me great joy to extend a helping hand to my amazing new friend.  Our lives are so different and yet some how Aliso Beach connected us in that moment enjoying the scenery and as two people having a friendly conversation.  Aliso Beach seems to be one of those special places that fosters amazing conversations with people I have never met, and I believe that is a gift.  While politics and the economy continue to rip people apart and pit them against each other, Aliso Beach is a peaceful spot that allows people to decompress, relax and enjoy, and even pick up conversations with people they have never met.  It’s a good thing.

Between Saturday and Sunday, I did stop off their several times and found myself on the seeing end of things going on as a part of an interesting Aliso Beach Weekend.

Aliso Creek, Aliso River, Aliso River Wave, Aliso Chocolate Mini Wave, Aliso Creek Urban Runoff

Aliso Chocolate Wave

With the rainfall, Aliso Creek broke itself and sent urban runoff and pollution into the ocean prompting Orange County Health Officials to post a swimming in the water warning sign.  The water coming out of the creek was a bit too chocolatey for me and the waves weren’t anything to get excited about.  Wave riders do take chances with their health routinely when Aliso Creek empties into the ocean but it continually amazes me how naive beach goers are at Aliso Beach.  Just last week there was a mother dipping her infant into the waters of the Creek.  One of the things you will read when you see articles addressing the dangers of Aliso Creek is that elderly people, infants, and any person with a compromised immune system should absolutely avoid these waters.  Here this gal was exposing her child to this water and I thought to myself I have to say something.  It is important to note that all along our coast you will find people with kids in this water because the water is calmer and safer for children.  That would be 100% the case if it weren’t for the toxic, bacteria laden qualities of this water.  She wasn’t very happy with me when I told her that she might not want to dip her child in the water and why.  She kind of snickered at me as I said it and walked away from the water and up the beach.  At least the child was removed from a toxic situation in a successful campaign to get her to discontinue her putting the child into this toxic stew.  Babies don’t have a voice.  They expect adults to read simple signs at Aliso Beach warning of the dangers.  I know that the country is all up in arms about Pro Football Player Adrian Peterson disciplining his child with a switch but dipping your child into this water parallels risk that Adrian Peterson’s alleged switch beatings put his own child at.

Another very interesting scene was a couple that was trying to cross the river to get to the north end of the beach.  The wife got 3/4 of the way across when she found an unexpected deep spot that submerged her to a little over waist deep in the dirty water.  Not to be outdone, her husband decided to try his hand at crossing the river as if he knew better how to avoid the dangers of Aliso Creek.  He didn’t fall in to a waste deep in shore hole he did get a whole lot wetter than he wanted.  All they had to do was cross the mouth of the river closer to the crashing waves and they would have made it with rolled up pant legs without too much damage.  The funny thing is that I saw this happening is they began the perilous journey across the river.  You would think that the husband would have learned watching his wife fall into a trap of dirty brown water, but no!  He pretty much followed the same path.  If at first your wife does not succeed, try the same thing and fail, fail again!  The whole thing was silly but an interesting moment that repeats itself often when the river is flowing into the ocean.  While I was photographing the creek and the reflections from the sky on the fresh water, some young dudes were playing Bocce Ball.  Beach Bocce Ball is mildly entertaining but it gets old real quick.  With the sand returning to the beach and build-ups of sand creating humps of sand that created interesting obstacles or places to toss the Bocce Ball, these guys were taking advantage of all the sand can offer them.  While watching them, I realized that these dudes were way over the top, impolite and willing to endanger others to extract the most they could out of Aliso Beach for the excitement of this grand old game!  More important than my sarcastic attempt to slam the game of Bocce Ball is the idea that it is never a good idea to toss Bocce Balls from the beach and over the heads of those walking along the patch that maneuvers along the side of the children’s playground, under the street and into the inland side parking lot.  As I watched the balls being tossed over their heads and forcing them to stop, I also saw an alarmed mother sprinting for her kid that was running from the sand of the playground towards a ball that had just landed in her play zone.  What kid doesn’t love a ball?  So I guess these young men were too stupid or selfish or stupid and selfish to realize that they were endangering people who came to Aliso Beach with the expectation of spending an enjoyable and safe Sunday afternoon at the beach.  Bocce Ball at Aliso Beach isn’t a bad idea until the way you choose to play it puts others at risk of serious injury.  To be honest, it pissed me off.  Fortunately for them, they stopped the idiotic behavior of throwing the heavy and solid bocce balls over people’s heads and into the playground before I came to tell them to knock it off.  You just can’t lob Bocce Balls over beach visitors and towards children playing in the safety of the playground.  This should never happen.

Game of catch Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Park, Aliso Creek, Aliso River, Aliso Beach Sunset

Game of Catch Aliso Beach

On Saturday night there were large families enjoying the fire pits.  One particular group had two members pull out mitts and a ball and alternating between pitcher and catcher.  I have played baseball on beach sand a handful of times in my life and it is a blast.  The scene was kind of chaotic because members of the group were feeding sea gulls which were hawking through the air and fighting each other for the next bite to eat.  The sun was setting and in my face as I snapped shots of the two playing catch.  It made for  an interesting sunset and something you just don’t see every day down at the beach.  Another element of the interesting Aliso Beach Weekend was the size of the creek bank on the north end.  The side was probably 8 feet tall and looking at it closely it had incredible detail in the sand made by the water forcibly cutting through it and depositing it in the ocean.  Looking up at this sand cliff from just above the river flow on the north side of the beach, I realized that at least part of the Tex Haines article about what happens when the creek is let out at Aliso Beach is true.  The Creek does move a lot of sand into the ocean in very short order.  Whether or not Aliso Creek outletting into the water affects 10th street beach, a notorious skim boarding beach that as a skim board manufacturer and owner of Victoria Skimboards he would be wise to protect, may not be as convenient as putting the blame on those who break the river by hand to create a sand bar worth riding and photographing in front of the river mouth.  As much as the neatly groomed, carved lines in the sand walls enclosing the creek show a tremendous power and ability to move large quantities of sand in a short period of time, a balanced scientific argument against breaking the creek would rightfully include how the development of the city of Aliso Viejo, the removal of the Aliso Beach Pier, the removal of the house and fishing pier at the south end of 1oth street beach, the prevailing wind directions between the golden era of 10th street beach and now, the strength and sizes of swells, the influence of hurricane swells, rising sea levels and changes in weather.  To me, these could not be ignored in Tex’s argument that letting out the Creek has destroyed his favorite beach and one that is known globally as one of the best skim boarding spots on the planet.  He might be right.  I don’t know one way or another.  I just know that as I looked at the markings on the side of the sand cliff lining the north end of the Creek, I was reminded by the power of the water.  It had me thinking about the possibility he was right and what things would also need to be studies to produce an unbiased assessment of how the Creek running into the water affects 10th street.  Perhaps that is a future article and requiring more thought but seeing an 8 foot tall sand cliff rising above me was part of an interesting Aliso Beach Weekend.

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