Monthly Archives: March 2015

Bombs Away Aliso Beach


big surf, big surf Aliso Beach, big surf Laguna, Cyclone Pam

Bombs Away Aliso Beach

Cyclone Pam, after tearing up Fiji, Vanatua and the South Pacific, swung around New Zealand latching onto additional fetch on its move north and took aim at the Southern California swell window.  She unleashed her fury on the Laguna Beach area trying to tear Aliso Beach a new one.  The lifeguards had an intense day keeping the inexperienced and kids away from the water’s edge and getting sucked into a catastrophic beat down with waves whose intensity was an episode of bombs away Aliso Beach.  As predicted it was a warm day and Aliso Beach was packed with people from all over Southern California.  With metered parking lots on both sides of South Coast Highway, a children’s playground and easy access from the lot to the sand, this beach is immensely popular.  When warm weather collides with massive surf, Aliso Beach is a real challenge to keep safe.  It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant people are of the power of the ocean.  The lifeguards were sprinting along the beach getting people without fins out of the water and advising children and their parents to stay out of even the shallows due to the raw power and fury being unleashed by Pam.  In one sweep south a lifeguard sprinted to help drag a young child out of the water being sucked back out to sea from the shore in what I would describe as a close call.  If the battle to hang onto a child in that kind of surf is lost, there is a real good chance of the loss of life.  As I always do, I reinforce in these stories that understanding the ocean is something every parent and child visiting the beach should have.  Yesterday was red flag which means that 99.9% of the population should not be in or near the high surf and yet the very same people that shouldn’t be near the ocean were testing the eyes and manpower of OC Beach Parks Lifeguards.  As a beach goer interested in staying safe, and especially so if you have brought young children, you should know what the waves will be like before you show up and keep your kids out of the water on days like yesterday.  Although lifeguard and paramedic sirens raced south towards 10th street, I believe that no one was hurt at Aliso Beach on Sunday.  This is a miracle that lifeguards at Aliso Beach should absolutely be commended for.  These guys do a tremendous job and I know they will never get enough credit for it.  What they did yesterday was nothing short of heroic!

Beyond the scene of lifeguards keeping people out of the water, there were takers at the south end of  Aliso Beach.  Skim boarders had to be a little more selective down there with the set waves breaking a little further out.  There was one surfer and a pack of about 10 solid body boarders trying to tame the beasts down there.  It was seriously bombs away Aliso Beach.  Joe Grodzen, Henry Long and Casey Blair were killing it out there. With the long period nature of the swell, you could be lulled into the belief it wasn’t that big.  It would seem flat for a spell and then a set of three would stack out the back in an exercise of dodging bombs.  Many of the waves closed out but there were a few corners to be had.  Winds remained light through the afternoon allowing the tide to drop in a way that made the detonating shore break fairly rideable.  I spoke with Jared Sislin that afternoon who had ventured down to Lower Trestles earlier only to find out it was closed out.  Trestles grooms most swells perfectly so when you hear that you kind of scratch your head.  I wonder if forecasters really got how mean this swell would be.  One thing for sure is that the remnants of Cyclone Pam got into our swell window after traveling thousands of miles and smacked the crap out of Aliso Beach, the Laguna Coastline all south facing beaches of Southern California.  Families and visitors of Aliso Beach are encouraged to check marine reports before coming.  I was a kid once too.  I know how alluring the ocean is and I also know how dangerous the waves can be to little ones and people who are not experienced enough to handle this type of surf.  You may check Solspot for free and know exactly what you are getting into.  By using this free site, you can prepare your self and family for conditions that are predicted up to a week out.  If you see waves in the 6-10 foot range predicted and your planning on taking your kids to the beach, my recommendation is to stay away completely.  As much as I praise the effort of the lifeguards, I do believe that their ability to keep people safe should not be stretched as thin as beach visitors caused yesterday.  You simply can’t be in all places at all times and yesterday OC Lifeguards did a stellar job of doing just that as it was bombs away Aliso Beach.

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OC Lifeguard Rescues


OC Lifeguard Rescues, Lifeguard Rescues Seagull. Seagull Rescue., Aliso Beach

Rescued Seagull

There are plenty of rescues at Aliso and neighboring Laguna Beaches every year.  OC Lifeguards do an amazing job of keeping everyone safe in some challenging ocean conditions that have the potential to take a life at a moment’s notice.  We were reminded of the power of the ocean and how indiscriminate it can be with waves and tides battering the shore and endangering beach visitors like Nevada teen Anthony Parnell. He tragically lost his life this winter in a rocky area beyond the cave at 10th street beach.  I have talked to a particular lifeguard about that situation and he was visibly upset and spoke with a sincere frustration and disappointment not being able to save the young man. Make no mistake about it though, there was nothing anyone could do when a large wave knocked Anthony into the water and sucked him beneath a labyrinth of reef lining the shore.  OC Lifeguard Rescues are a great service to the community and the men and women who make up this force are dedicated to making sure we are safe. Unfortunately, sometimes the ocean has other ideas and a life is lost.  This was certainly the case with Parnell.

Though higher waves are predicted Friday through the beginning of next week, I doubt there were many OC Lifeguard Rescues today but there was, however,  a particular rescue that caught my attention.  I noticed the lifeguard Jared scooping up a seagull on the beach with a towel.  He then carried the bird up the beach and walked into the parking lot when I lost sight of him.  I asked a couple of guys trailing Lifeguard Jared what had happened and it was believed that the seagull suffered a broken leg from a skim board.  Ouch!  A seagull leg is no match for the hard glassed boards that carry skimmers toward incoming waves with blazing speeds.  The bird, despite its bad luck and injury, may have caught a break because the expectation for a seagull and a skim board colliding may be far worse than the supposed broken leg.

Lifeguard Jared had two local skim boarders take the bird in to a shelter where I am sure it got the best possible care.  Everyone involved could have left the bird on the beach to suffer and perhaps die, but they didn’t. Honestly, I don’t know if the bird made it or if the injury was catastrophic. What I do know is several people including Jared added to OC Lifeguard Rescues in saving the seagull that found itself on the wrong end of a skim board.  It takes compassion to do what he and the local boys did driving it to a shelter.  It is a shining example of respect for the coastline and animals we share our ocean playground with.  We need much, much more of this and I truly appreciate the example this set for children, families, skim boarders and beach visitors as a couple of people cared enough to get a seagull extra attention and care after it was injured.   Thank you Jared and many thanks to the local skim boarders for getting the injured bird to the right people.  Your compassion is inspiring.


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



Kayaking Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Kayaking, Kayaking Laguna Beach

Aliso Beach Kayak

If you read reviews of Aliso Beach online, you will see a lot of commentary on how dangerous the waves are and how unfit this popular Laguna Beach is for water recreation.  While that is true that the surf can be rough at Aliso Beach making wading, swimming, body surfing, body boarding, skim boarding, surf photography and surfing dangerous, this does not mean that Aliso Beach is not a good place to do those things.  Aliso Beach has an extreme sloping beach that produces pounding shore break conditions that are not for the inexperienced or the faint of heart. If you saw the waves at Aliso Beach thundering the shore, you might also believe that it is a terrible place to launch a kayak.  Putting Aliso’s reputation for pounding waves aside for the moment, this Laguna area beach has the only parking lot on the coastal side.  This makes Aliso Beach an easy place to unload gear and get to the water in no time.  Most Laguna beaches do not have the ease of access which makes lugging the gear to the water’s edge more taxing than the kayaking itself.  The key to enjoying Aliso Beach and getting all that you hope for on that day is to choose the best days to be there.  Surf reports from Adam at is a really good place to start.  If you are a family with inexperienced swimmers and little ones or a kayaker, I strongly recommend choosing another beach or rescheduling when the waves are below 2 feet.  I promise that the report is something anyone can read and it will help beach visitors hoping to use the beach for leisure, water play and water sports to choose the right days.  Most beaches have flat days or days where the waves are minimal.  These are the best days to enjoy Aliso Beach and set out on a kayak for an adventure.

Kayaking in a shore break zone like Aliso Beach can be challenging, frustrating and dangerous.  Yesterday I talked to an avid kayaker and he talked about the process of watching, waiting and launching.  He has no preconceived notion as to how long it can take is he watches the ocean conditions, times set waves and looks for an opportunity to safely leave the shore.  The last thing you want to do is have a set wave at Aliso Beach smack you around in a kayak.  It is clear that my new friend Dan is an expert.  He approaches the takeoff from the beach in a safe and patient way that allows him to make the right decisions.  He talked about how he was encountering Grey Whales headed north from Baja on the way to the Arctic to feed.  This time of year, the Mothers are leading their calves back along the Pacific Coast after they have become strong enough to make the journey in the Grey Whale Nurseries of Laguna Di Obre and San Ignacio Lagoons.  The previous day a Grey Whale surfaced about 15 feet from a small pack of body boarders with salt water blowing in the wind as it came up for air.  It was a busy day at the beach, and seeing the whale surface drew a loud cheer from the beach as it made its presence known.  Having spent time on boat trips into the lagoons and seeing these majestic creatures, I was really happy for all the families with their kids that got to see the whale.

Aliso Beach has interesting reefs to explore on the north end of the beach at Treasure Island.  The water is teaming with fish, dolphins, seals and whales on their way back to the feeding grounds north.  There is plenty to see and of course the aerobic exercise and upper body strength developed in kayaking are worth the effort.  Kayaking from Aliso Beach presents an opportunity to be one with the water and all of its creatures.  It is an adventure of solitude and leaving the concrete jungle that transforms people.  Dan is passionate about his wildlife photography when he goes kayaking from Aliso Beach and when talking about his excursions off the coast of Laguna Beach, his eyes are bright, shiny and full of joy.  He definitely understands the rhythms of the ocean and takes an approach to kayaking that allows him to safely paddle in an out of the shore break zone.  Dan happens to be a kidney dialysis patient and he is sending an incredible message to people about what they can accomplish despite what I would call a severe health condition.  He has been on a waiting list for a kidney for 8 years and it appears he is really close to getting one which is exciting news for this coastal adventurer.  We are going to come back and do a full interview on the site in the coming weeks in between his treatments and I think you will all be inspired by this man.  I can’t wait to do that piece!

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At A Loss


I really don’t ever characterize my experience at Aliso Beach as being at a loss but the unthinkable has happened while visiting my favorite Laguna Beach last week.  To be clear, I endured some hardship at this beach but it was nothing I could not overcome and something I now just shake my head and laugh about.  The first time I was at a loss at Aliso last week was when a wave chased me towards the sand berm at the Creek.  I ran towards a fairly high embankment of sand racing the white water push up the beach by a wave.  The good news is that I escaped being soaked.  The bad news is that in leaping up the sand and landing with front foot stretched to reach safety I ripped a pair of my favorite Volcom shorts.  I had to walk up the beach with a pair of shorts that was ripped along the pocket and creating the potential for a commando exposure.  Nobody was hurt and I managed to make sure that nobody on the beach was flashed before getting to my car and changing into trunks.  Nobody needs to see that!  Again, it is really hard to be upset at all the wonderful things going on at the beach.  The smell of salt in the air, an ocean alive and pushing blue-green waves up the beach thundering as they land, seagulls and pelicans soaring above, palm tree leaves swaying in the coastal breezes and warm, soothing sand.  It’s not bad…..ever!

Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Seagull, Aliso Beach Seagull Flight Preparation

Aliso Beach Local Winds Up Its Wings For Takeoff

The second episode of being at a loss at Aliso Beach was by far more catastrophic and yet somehow I lived to tell about it.  I did get some help from a few new friends who were key to making this mini-disaster much more palatable.  Again, I found myself snapping pictures with my IPhone 6 down at the beach next to the sand embankment at Aliso Creek and near the water’s edge.  I put my keys in my trunks pocket and edged closer to a beefy shore break to do some slow motion video.  The water was racing up the bank a little further with each breaking wave as the tide rose. A larger wave smashed the shore and I reacted quickly pivoting and running to get out of the way and up the sand hill when I heard and felt my keys slip though my pocket and fall into the sea foam rushing up the beach.  They were gone!  I never saw them again buried in the sand and lost for all time.  With the way that beach changes every day with the creek being let out and the changing sand levels at Aliso Beach there were two chances of finding those keys.  We all know them as “Slim” and “None”! I did move sand around where I believed they fell for about an hour before deciding to make that call to a lock and key guy.  I lucked out calling one locksmith who recommended Javier at Express Mobile Locksmith. I tried to make a payment over the phone to this guy and the card failed with other payments hitting that day.  His business was nearing closing time and so I had a family member make the payment.  The owner Javier argued with me stating that his business had problems taking credit cards over the phone with charge backs.  Working for businesses that take credit cards I completely understand.  I fired back saying that only an idiot would charge back on him when the alternative was to tow the car and still have the key made because it would cost more money.  Finally he agreed to take the payment from a relative and he sent his guy to assist me. He was in San Juan Capistrano at the time and about to head home so I got this done just in time and right before my phone would run out of juice.  That was a close shave!

Without reservation I can recommend Express Mobile Locksmith out of San Clemente, California.  Man, these guys saved my day.  Sure I was out a few bucks but the alternative of getting towed and then dealing with this or even getting a ticket for being in the lot after hours would have ended up being way more expensive.  I appreciate companies that take care of customers and this business is clearly one of those.  I am including  Yelp Review For Express Mobile Locksmith.  As you will see in Yelp, I am not the only one who is grateful for the service they provide and that is the best marketing you can have because people tell others and make their own recommendations.  Thanks again Javier!  I hope that my review brings you a few more well deserved clients.  They will be happy they called you!




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Just Another Day At Aliso Beach

March 1 2015 Aliso Beach Disorganized Front.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach End of Winter Tug of War Between High and Low Pressure.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Feet In the Sand.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Last One Standing.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Popped Popcorn Cloudy.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Storm Clouds Thinking Pink.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Storm Signals.jpgMarch 1 2015 Aliso Beach Strange Skies.jpgMarch 1st Surfrider Foundation South OC Chapter Beach Cleanup Representative Nyra.jpg

At 44 years old, there is no such thing as just another day in many ways because death and health issues among friends, family and public figures really kind of puts life in perspective.  We have a short window here to do all of the good that we can and to say that any day is just another day is just not appreciative of the blessings we all have in living, loving, experiencing, learning and growing.  It has taken a lot of years of ups and downs, heartaches, triumphs, failures and happy moments to crystallize this in my often times stubborn mind.  Aliso Beach has been and continues to be a place that I can hear myself think, take in a deep breath of cool, clean ocean air, and get rid of the stresses, frustration, anger, disappointment and mental as well as emotional fatigue. I am grateful for that, and while I know that saying any day at Aliso Beach is just another day is absurd, I have learned to count on this beach to soothe my soul to  an extent that it is a part of my routine.  The routine happens sometimes daily but is available any time I feel like my cup gets too full and  have to wipe away some of the tension and quiet the noise.  I think everyone needs a place to mentally and emotionally retreat in our world.  Computers, cell phones, cars honking, construction, and the every day hustles and bustles found in life often compete with our need to exhale, decompress and relax.  Our developed world and environment clearly have an affect on us and we are wise to recognize this and balance it with things and experiences that restore the inner peace that we require.  Calling a day at Aliso Beach just another day is ridiculous because it is not. It rivals Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day
Off  telling Ferris he didn’t see anything good the day they decided to fake being sick and then proceed to terrorize the city with adventure and fun under the guise of being sick from school.  I say it is just another day at Aliso Beach because the experience is routinely special and is expected daily.  The even more amazing thing is that I can’t really tell you why it is special finding that my affection for this Laguna Beach location is more feeling than it is a description with words.  While the experience is special every day at Aliso Beach, delivering the experiencing of special is 365 days out of the year and just another year at Aliso Beach.

At the beginning of the day, I met Nyra who was manning the post for Surfrider Foundation South Orange County Chapter for a Beach Cleanup.  He has been doing this for 3 weeks and has not had anyone show up.  I put an article out on the website yesterday with an offer of free art for the first person that shows up next Saturday to help Nyra with his Clean Up efforts after reading the article.  I hope it helps.  I will join him if that is what it takes.

I was watching a guy flying a large kite down at the south end of the beach.  The kite was dancing in the wind and at times taking intense, looping dives towards the sand and narrowly missing its demise as the puppet master pulled  on the strings to navigate the kite wisting just above the sand and back soaring into the air.  On one dive the kite violently ate the sand and when that happened, I noticed the release of tension on the line between him and kite actually knocked him over sending him cartwheeling down the sand embankment.  I walked down the beach hoping he would put the kite back up into the air so I could take a picture to be included in my Aliso Beach adventures.  When I approached him I did ask him if the power of the the kite actually knocked him over and he quickly said that wasn’t the case.  My assumption is that falling over like that and having me ask about it may have been a little embarrassing so I left it alone.  I was interested in the power that created that situation and hadn’t given any thought to his loss in the battle to control his toy.  It turns out what he was flying was a land kite and he admitted that all 9 feet of this sail and kite were extremely powerful.  He was there with family from Vancouver in the country of Canada and  seemed to have an appreciation for Aliso Beach.  He was friendly and interesting and it was another cool conversation with a stranger at Aliso Beach worth mentioning.

As there are always are, droves of people arrived at Aliso to take in the sunset as yesterday night’s storm approached.  I thought we might have a truly remarkable sunset but the clouds out west swallowed Catalina and starved the scene of the degree of  sunlight peaking through the clouds necessary to fire up an extraordinary sunset.  The kids were using a 6 foot sand bank along Aliso Creek from the previous day’s flushing of the lagoon into the ocean by surf photographers jumping to the bottom and sliding down.  They had so much fun, I almost got up and joined them.  I did allow the sand at the edge of the bank to collapse beneath me with my descent ending half way down the hill in a comfortable seated position braced by the sand cliff behind me. The sand was surprisingly warm and soft perhaps shielding my legs from the wind because as I always do, I wore shorts despite the cool and windy day.  I took in the changing moods of the juxtaposition of the sun and clouds hoping for just enough penetration of the clouds by the sun to release the beautiful yellow, pink and orange colors that light up Southern California skies in the winter as storms approach.  I took pictures and waited for opportunities to catch those one or two people that misjudge the incoming waves and flow of the creek.  Someone is always good for a laugh and an entertaining short video.  Sure enough a little guy misjudged the water between Aliso Creek and the ocean running himself into a deep spot and becoming soaked.  It was cold enough for a parent to be concerned about a sopping wet child on a cold day here in Southern California and so a wise parent wrapped up playtime quickly upon seeing the after affects of the young man’s unlucky moment.  When I realized that the cloud cover was not going to release the full potential for the sunset I was looking forward to, I climbed back up the berm and noticed tw0 kids in Dodger Uniforms throwing a ball back and forth with gloves on the beach.  I asked them in passing if Coach Don Mattingly knew they weren’t in Arizona for Spring Training and how could the Dodgers fill out their pitching staff without them.  Their mom laughed and they looked at me cross-eyed.  I thought it was funny!

The lack of sunlight peaking through took its toll on the beach temperature and the cool and blustery winds began to push me off the beach.  I headed for the car and headed south only to find myself up on the hill for one last shot at capturing something stupendously good!  To my delight, the sky picked up some pink accenting that was worth getting lost in from the hill on PCH leaving Aliso Beach. I snapped a couple of photos before the fading light starved the evening sky of its remaining color.  While this Aliso Beach day was invigorating and calming, calling it just another day at Aliso Beach defies the negative connotation the saying has.  I don’t think Aliso Beach will ever be just another beach, just another place and just another day.  It is truly special.

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