Monthly Archives: February 2015

Surfrider Foundation Aliso Beach


Surfrider Beach Cleanup, Beach Cleanup Aliso, South Orange County Chapter Surfrider Foundation, Nyra

Help Nyra and Surfrider Cleanup Aliso Beach.

I got a call several weeks ago from a friend who wanted to know whether I knew that Surfrider Foundation was spearheading beach cleanup activities at my favorite beach.  My honest answer was that I was unaware of that.  Beach Cleanups in recent years have gained a lot of momentum capturing the volunteer efforts of adults that want to give back to the community while setting an example for youth and kids who have become inspired by the ability to make a difference while protecting the ocean and beaches they love.  I have seen many groups clean up and advocate for Aliso Beach in recent years and their efforts do not go unnoticed.  Of the groups that hold events to remove clutter from Aliso Beach, none is probably more visible locally, nationally and globally than the Surfrider Foundation which is a huge ally of the world’s oceans and beaches with an army of volunteers, political clout and funded legal representation that takes on groups and developers that threaten the coastal environment with their projects.  Without question, they are a necessary player in shielding our coastal resources from business interests some of which intentionally and other unintentionally try and steam roll the environment with their own projects and interests.  Not all business is in the best interest of the world’s coastal environments and Surfrider Foundation is a powerful force in delaying and preventing business decisions from putting the health of our coastal environments at risk.

New Aliso Beach Phone Case, Aliso Beach Phone Case, Aliso Beach IPhone Case,

Aliso Beach IPhone Case

Today I spoke to a young man named Nyra.  Nyra, if I screwed up the spelling man, my bad and I apologize!  I asked him about the efforts of Surfrider Foundation at Aliso Beach and he indicated that he has been staging the event on behalf of the foundation and not one person has showed up to help.  As the administrator of the Aliso Beach website, you can imagine that was a little embarrassing.  First of all, I had not idea they were doing the cleanup there until recently and secondly because I have not done enough to help them get the word out.  The worst thing I can do is let that lack of foot soldiers and volunteers convince him that people down there simply don’t care.  Per Nyra, he is there every Saturday from 10:00 am – 1:00pm and unfortunately I have forgotten the times on the two weekdays.  I am pledging my support to Nyra who has sat in the elements waiting for people to come join his pledge to keep Aliso Beach clean.  If I am in town next week, I intend to be the first volunteer to help him with his beach cleanup at Aliso Beach and will have told some local friends that I want them to join me.  The first person that tells Nyra that they are a friend of the Aliso Beach website and Rob said to come help with the beach cleanup  will get one of the following absolutely free.  Let’s get the word out and help Nyra with his good work!


1) 2 Phone Cases (IPhone 4/4S, IPhone 5/5S, IPhone 6, IPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5) based on the photography of Scotty Carter.  (You select your image for the cases)


2)  A matted print of Aliso Beach based on the photography of Scotty Carter  (You select your image for the print)

Surfrider has some amazing local programs.  Here is a snapshot of a couple of them:

The Save Trestles Program has thwarted the effort to build a toll road from inland that was proposed to connect to the Trestles area.  Surfrider’s belief was that this toll road shouldn’t be made when its construction would threaten the watershed of this area as well as carve up land that represents sacred Native American Sites.  We can’t just tear the environment up at the expense of the environment every time we see an opportunity to make our lives and travel easier.  Surfrider and a decorated list of environmental advocates continue to attend public TCA meetings and regulatory meetings with a close eye on the likelihood another mounted effort to build this toll road rises once again.  In 2008 the Secretary of Commerce decided that the proposed toll road would not steer clear of breaking environmental laws.  That is where it sits as of the moment but I don’t think anyone in their right mind thinks that the TCA will give up.  No doubt Surfrider and valuable community outreach partners and environmental groups will be on the front lines keeping Trestles just that….the Trestles we know and love.

Stay Trashy San Clemente

This month, the Coastal Advisory Commission was to recommend a plastic ban bag in San Clemente and Surfrider was behind this initiative 100%.  Plastic is one of the biggest problems we have in our world as human beings consume our challenges with plastic seems to grow exponentially.  There are plastic garbage patches in every ocean large enough to walk across and not fall into the ocean and they are getting worse.  It is poisoning marine birds, mammals and fish that ingest them and unavoidable to all sea creatures in the food chain. The documentaries I have seen on the damage it is doing to wildlife in and out of the water in the marine environment are riveting.  We are poisoning the oceans.  We should ban plastic bags everywhere.  It just isn’t that hard to work with reusable canvas bags.

These are by no means representative of all that Surfrider does.  What they do is 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, everywhere the ocean meets the shore.  It is a full time job and they do great things.  To see other South Orange County Surfrider Chapter Programs click this link.  If you are ocean and environment minded and would like to get involved with this Chapter, including donating to Surfrider, becoming a member of Surfrider and volunteering with Surfrider, please click the links provided.  If you love the coastal environments, what a terrific way to give back and join the legion of people all pulling the same direction to protect the oceans and beaches against interests that will put them at risk.

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

Aliso Beach Visit By Leigh Hubner


Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Sunset, Sunset , Laguna, Laguna Beach

Aliso Beach Sunset

It seemed like a normal day at Aliso Beach.  Special it was but this South Laguna gem is always that way for me.  In between phone calls, I noticed a group with what I deem significant equipment, readying a drone.  As I completed my calls I walked across the parking lot to see what was going on.  There were a couple of guys in the posse and significant others there to take in the experience.  A tall man in a hat and sunglasses maneuvered the drone off the ground and spent some time negotiating the coastal winds and seagulls at the beach this day.  He would test the distance and maneuverability of the device and expertly guide the drone back to a safe landing area.  He would then take the drone and set it on a heavy duty camera equipment case and then go to the back of a cargo van before returning and sending the drone to the air once again.  I was a little intimidated.  This seemed a little more serious than a hobbyist flying an inexpensive drone.  I am not sure if there is such a thing as an inexpensive one from prices I have seen and heard, but this thing was larger and clearly customized as opposed to entry level drones which start at $500.00. The feeling I got by watching them was that they were there very purposefully.  This wasn’t screwing a round or passing the time.  It looked like business to me.  If it weren’t for another gregarious old surfer who came up and struck a conversation up with him, I might of passed on interacting them at all and I am glad I didn’t.  The tall man seemed to be intent on getting whatever he set out to do finished. He just had that eye of the tiger look and everything they did seem to have a technical aspect to it.  I confirmed that with one of the dudes in his crew that this indeed was a customized model drone and that they were testing to see the quality and beauty of the footage they could get.  I am partial to Aliso Beach, so before they edit the footage I would be confident in saying you guys did just fine.

drone, aerial photography, Leigh Hubner, Aliso Beach

Custom Drone Aliso Beach

As I always do when I talk to someone interesting at Aliso Beach, I tell them I will feature them on this website and that I am happy to feature any special projects they may have.  I heard him say his name was Leigh (although in my mind I spelled Lee making it harder to find him online) in an Australian Accent.  The vintage surfer dude next to me who dropped stories of surfing with Gerry Lopez and having a house on the hill looking out over Pupukea (I have no reason to doubt him ) recognized the name and there was talk of work featuring very well known Australian surfers.  I was a huge fan of the names of current star and historic surfers that I heard and while I found myself interested in that conversation, I felt like I was intruding.  I quietly ducked out of the conversation and let old surfer dude take over the conversation.  He clearly had bigger names to drop than I did but I did not want to get in Leigh’s way anyways!  He seemed intent on doing his testing and that was something I completely understand.  I did manage to pry his website name Loose Cannon out of him before I departed the conversation with a promise to feature him.  It’s an honor truthfully. I knew by looking at the equipment he was no joke but I had no idea how well this guy is regarded in his industry.  I know I have heard Loose Cannon on several occasions and perhaps that is from his ties to a country that adores surfing and his work in the surfing industry.

Leigh Hubner, Aerial Photographer, Drone, Aliso Beach, Cinematographer

Award Winning cinematographer Leigh Hubner with drone at Aliso Beach.

The Leigh I have mentioned above is Leigh Hubner.  He is a professional camera man, lighting specialist and cinematographer currently based in Los Angeles, California by way of Australia.  I will let you read more about him on his website and yes I think you should or I wouldn’t have put this story here.  He has done some really interesting things.  Highlights from his website are the story of a young Australian boy who with the aid of specialized hearing aids is dancing in the clouds and the following of a child in a refugee camp in Ethiopia that the Australian breakfast show “Sunrise” has sponsored for many years.  In that camp Leigh was described as doing whatever was necessary to get the shots including putting himself in perilous situations with incredible dedication.  Anyways, his website tells volumes and the video section is great. The video shorts on the site give you a really good idea of how talented he is and how well received he is in media.  It sounds like to me Los Angeles acquired a huge talent and at least for now, Australia misses him dearly.  Given his work though, there seems to be a fair amount of demand and travel.  As far as I am concerned he is a guy from a country and culture that loves the ocean and ocean sports which has always made Australian people fascinating to me.  Yesterday he was just an interesting stranger at Aliso Beach doing something I thought was  fun.  Today he is a really accomplished camera man and cinematographer that is exploring the possibilities with aerial footage from drones and per his website a guy that enjoys baseball and has adopted the Los Angeles Dodgers!  That is awesome.  Check out his website!

You can see some short clips of his drone flights later today on Facebook Fan Page Aliso Beach

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

Body Found At Three Arch Bay


Eleven days after Las Vegas high school student Anthony Parnell went missing after getting hit by a wave in the rocky area of Laguna beyond the sea cave at Thousand Steps Beach, a home owner in the Three Arch Bay community saw the body and alerted local authorities.  The coroner has yet to make a determination as to whether or not this is indeed the teen who was lost to a large wave 11 days ago on February 8th.  Although I know of no other missing person report in the South Laguna Beach area, the coroner is understandably going to make absolutely sure.  At a beach just to the north of Thousand Steps Beach, I watched a large wave smash into a cliff with two people standing on it. The bounce of violent salt water engulfed the rocky platform atop the cliff and made two people disappear from view.  Prior to review of a video that was cut short due to loss of battery power, I had no idea they were there. Where they were was an extremely precarious spot to be in with large ocean waves tearing up the Laguna Beach coastline. Had I not seen the emergency personnel on PCH above Thousand Steps Beach, I might have been convinced that the people lost were the two on top of this rock.  If they weren’t hurt and because there were no additional reports of missing persons, I would say they were much luckier than the young Anthony Parnell.  I would also say given my video that they were in no better a place with high surf battering the coast than Anthony who appears to have paid with his life.  Three people that put themselves in really dangerous positions during this large wave event were hit by a wave and one didn’t make it.  Unfortunately for the Parnell Family and friends, he was the one that wasn’t so lucky.

Assuming that the body that was pulled out and delivered to the coroner by Orange County Fire and Rescue and Laguna Beach Lifeguards belongs to the young man, at least the family can give him a proper burial and allow friends and family to gain a little comfort in being able to say goodbye and put him to rest.  I have talked personally to lifeguards and members of theLaguna Beach community and they are deeply saddened by the loss of Anthony.  Off the record, a lifeguard I met a year ago was visibly upset with the event and was heart broken that a young man was lost and that they hadn’t recovered the body.  County lifeguards have their hands full and take the safety of all all beach goers in Laguna Beach very personally and it really stung them to lose Anthony.  They are trained to save lives and I might even say they are trained to save us from ourselves.  When we misjudge the ocean or don’t offer it the appropriate level of respect, we put ourselves in positions that lifeguards maintain responsibility for getting us safely out of.  The winter season does not offer regular staffing at Laguna Beaches by lifeguards so the ability to save Anthony and friends from the positions they put themselves in wasn’t there.  Things like this happen so fast and underscore the need for us all to be aware about the dangers found at the water’s edge.

My guess is that the body found at Three Arch Bay today does belong to Anthony Parnell. My hope is that this senseless tragedy helps shed light on the dangers found on the other side of this cave when trying to get to the man made salt pools.  It is well documented that Thousand Steps Beach is a buzz in social media.  This Thousand Steps Yelp Review from a young beach visitor from Rosemead, California is part of the problem and the dangerous cave area reference in reviews is in many of the reviews.  It is safe to say that people coming from out of town are not nearly as experienced or well-versed in Laguna area ocean conditions and tides in general and that makes what happened to Anthony Parnell something that could happen to others.

As I have said all along, something good has to come out of this so I am hoping the word gets out that the salt water pools on the other side of the cave are too dangerous of an area to be messing around in and to avoid putting yourselves in that situation.  Rest In Peace Anthony!

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

Nevada Teen Still Missing In Laguna Beach


Last weekend, warm weather combined with high surf created extremely dangerous conditions for those in the water or in close proximity to it in Laguna Beach.  Nevada high school student Anthony Parnell, was with friends traversing the rocks on the other side of the cave on the south end of Thousand Steps Beach trying to reach the man made salt water pools located on the other side of the cave.  For those that know Laguna Beach well, abnormally dangerous surf and high tides are a really bad combination to be taking risks along the entire rocky coastlines of Laguna Beach.  It is widely being reported that social media with the help of small digital cameras like Go Pro and smart phones with cameras are being shared on the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat and other platforms like them creating huge buzz and interest in the pools south of the cave at Thousand Steps Beach among youth that do not live in the area.  Research online shows  videos and pictures on social media sites glorifying the experience of kids hanging out at this spot.  Some of the videos even show kids putting themselves at risk in these pools close to dangerously crashing waves hurling powerful washes of water up and over the pool.  One such video shows the force of a wave knocking over a young girl in the pool highlighting the dangers of being pinned by waves against the rocky environment beyond the cave.  Testing boundaries is without question a rite of passage for teens nearing legal adulthood.  The problem with testing the sea cave boundary is that Anthony Parnell, the Nevada teem still missing in Laguna Beach, and friends never should have been there, and the influence of social media is being reported as perhaps alluring his group and other teem groups that visit from out of town.

I spend a lot of time in the Laguna Beach area and the waves and conditions can be intimidating and rough.  I know better not to be on these rocks in large surf and higher tides.  Anthony was said to be wary of and afraid of the ocean.  With an increasing tide on that Sunday combined with an erratic ocean producing waves 6-10 foot slamming into the Laguna Beach coastline, he should have trusted his natural instincts.  In this instance, they would have saved him, I feel terrible for the Parnell family and the friends who are going to have to work through his loss mentally and emotionally for some time to come.  A bright young life is presumed lost and with the search for the body called off, it is entirely possible that his remains are never found.  In speaking with a county lifeguard today, and although they are upset that they have not been able to find Anthony, there isn’t much hope that they will find him which perhaps makes closure for family and friends all the more difficult.

Dangerous High Surf Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, West Street

Dangerous High Surf At West Street Laguna Beach

The ocean must be respected at all times.  This is a picture of the pounding surf on the day that Anthony Parnell went missing.  What you don’t see in the image of the water engulfing the rocks are the two human beings that were there when that wave hit.  If I had seen the news that night without seeing the emergency vehicles at Thousand Steps Beach, I would have believed that Anthony Parnell was one of the two people up on those rocks absolutely destroyed by this wave.  The rocks leading to the area glamorized by social media posts and widely distributed as content online, are dangerous unto themselves. High tide and large waves in combination with these rocks present  a level of danger that all would be smart to avoid.  As this past weekend proved, avoiding these rocks during large wave events and high tides could indeed save a life.  During the winter, there is no lifeguard service at Thousand Steps Beach and in the summer, lifeguards are often torn between keeping kids from entering the cave and keeping those enjoying the water safe.  It is a really tough spot for  lifeguards and I have a tremendous respect for the job they are hired to do and the variables working against them in efforts to keep everyone safe.  What happened is completely avoidable which is why the loss of Anthony is so tragic.  Nobody should have entered the cave that day and my humble opinion is that it was a terrible decision to be there regardless of what social media has made the experience of the pools out to be.

Something good has to come out of this so that Anthony did not leave us in vain.  He already had a fear of the ocean which is natural for those who are not in and around the waters of Laguna Beach on a continual basis.  Those teens had it in their minds that they were staying in Laguna for a week and they were going to get to those pools no matter what.  You can’t test the ocean like that and expect things like this not to happen…you just can’t!  Reading a surf and tide report is hardly above even average intelligent people so there are no excuses.  When navigating the rocky tidal areas of Laguna Beach there are 2 things you absolutely have to know and they are:  What are the tides doing and how big is the surf?  While I am really bummed that this kid lost his life and that he will be missed terribly by friends and family, I would say this is the type of thing that happens when the power and danger of the ocean are not respected.  I am encouraging all Laguna Beach visitors to check marine reports from online companies like SolSpot who offer surf, tide and weather conditions to viewers for free.  If the surf is above 3 foot I would avoid the cave and pools.  If the tides are higher making the climbing through the rocks on the other end of the cave dangerous I would avoid the cave.  If you can’t look at the ocean and based upon what you see make the right decision about whether or not to enter the caves on the way to the pools then you have no business being there.  Use the marine reports to make better decisions related to your safety at Thousand Steps Beach and other similarly constructed beaches in the Laguna area.  Your health and well being depends much on the knowledge you arm yourselves with when you come to this particular beach and Laguna area beaches.  Not understanding the power of the ocean and leaving yourself vulnerable to a large wave that sneaks upon the shore is no laughing matter.  In fact it could be deadly.

Just because you see others putting pictures and video online of the cave and pools does not mean that you should willingly take on the dangers produced by large waves and higher tides. No selfie with friends at the salt pools is worth the loss of a life.  It is a tough pill to swallow after the fact.  This should not have happened.  In talking with the lifeguard today, it is clear there will be some discussion about what to do about this area of Thousand Steps Beach which I presume may include limiting access.  Anthony Parnell should have gone home with a tan, pictures and memories as he prepared himself to become a member of the armed forces.  Instead, his life was lost to the sea with a strong likelihood that his body will never be recovered. Sadly, the search efforts for Anthony Parnell have been called off with little hope of finding him.  I can’t tell you how sad that makes me and I extend my heartfelt prayers to the Parnell family and friends whom I am sure are devastated.




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