Category Archives: Aliso Beach Events

Great White Shark Activity


great white shark, art, great white shark painting, Whitney L. Anderson

Whitney L Anderson with Great White Shark Painting

From the near fatal Great White Shark Attack at San Onofre weeks ago and the OC Sheriffs Helicopter warning a paddle boarder of being in the middle of a pack of 15 sharks to personally seeing sharks thrash around the water 10 feet or less from the sand and the OC Register report of a shark at Thousand Steps Beach, the danger has become very real to this South Orange County Body Boarder and ocean enthusiast. A friend in Laguna Beach had suggested that there was a sighting at Aliso Beach several weeks back and I immediately drove up to Aliso to speak with a lifeguard supervisor who was unaware of any sighting.  That day curiosity got the best of me and I headed to Capo Beach where there has been many daily sightings over the last several weeks.  Sure enough, I got to see them in the surf zone at a spot I have paddled out at in years past.  I was moved by the fear of a friend of mine who has been in the San Clemente to Laguna community as a former professional body boarder for the bulk of his life.  I would like to acknowledge Joe Grodzen and I wanted to relay the sentiment of what he said on Facebook.  He spoke of his deep ties to the ocean and those of his wife Keila whom is also a former professional body boarder.  Raising a young boy and giving him the gift of beach and surfing culture, it is not lost on Joe how concerning the rash of shark sightings from San Onofre to Long Beach, California is.  Joe for the most part is a very unflappable, competitive and in the moment kind of personality.  What he said was very raw and very real.  Reading his thoughts, I was affected by the fear he had related to the presence of these sharks in what perhaps is a new normal along our coastline with regular visits.  He echoed the sentiment that he may have to give a second thought to being in the water to keep he and his family safe.  Joe has been at this far longer than I have, and to hear a man that has spent nearly every day of his life since he has been old enough to walk in local ocean waters express a genuine concern for his safety, it definitely caught my attention.

Still trying to process the swarm of so many sharks in the area, I did return a second time to Capo Beach noticing the shark warning signs, and eventually seeing one splash around 10 feet or less from shore.  It is probably not a good idea to be in the water at all at Capo.  Rumor has it that boats and perhaps kayakers are chumming the waters to attract the sharks.  Some of these boats are alleged to be whale boats capitalizing on the presence of these toothy new inhabitants of Capo Waters.  Any reasonable human being should not approve of throwing blood and guts into the water near shore for commercial gain, capturing footage or taking photographs.  This is a really bad idea that may contribute to a fatality and should be stopped immediately.  My hope is the lifeguards and authorities can identify those perpetrators and force them to stop.  As far as I can see that is harassment of a federally protected shark but what do I know.  If this is being done please stop this very reckless behavior.

Since I spend more time at Salt Creek and the coves of Laguna Beach, I felt like I was relatively safe in the zones I like to play in.  Given the explosion of shark numbers close to shore in San Clemente and Capo Beach, the idea that there are no great whites near shore at Salt Creek and Laguna Beaches rests on quicksand.  It simply doesn’t hold.  A Laylan Connelly, Orange County Register Article, shattered my idealized safe zones with a shark spotting at South Laguna’s Thousand Steps Beach and the mention of a shark advisory at Salt Creek.  Say it isn’t so!  I don’t know what I am going to do personally and I am feeling like I may put myself on a self-imposed time out, and as Joe Grodzen so eloquently said, what are we going to do? Ocean enthusiasts have built their lives around washing away all that ails them in the ocean and doing something athletically that keeps them happy.  I don’t know the answer to this question, and I suppose time will tell.  Having paddled way out at Salt Creek and sitting in the kelp paddies, I admit that I have thought about the unseen below that perhaps I don’t want to know is there. The ocean and local waters are home to the Great White Shark, but I cannot say that in over the 30 years I have spent time in these waters, that this is normal in any way shape or form.   How I feel about this situation will in no way dictate the behavior of sharks and where they choose to set up shop.  While I pray that their presence will come to pass and they head out to deeper waters, their continued presence could put a damper on what little ocean time I have as it is.  Having had a fin pop up on me in Baja while body boarding alone at a northern stretch of La Fonda, I really don’t want to find myself in that situation again.  Fortunately, a well-timed set arrival got me out of there before I could stare into the intentions of presumably a Great White Shark…and I prefer that to be the last time I find myself in the water with one.

I would like to take a moment to thank my friend and artist Whitney L. Anderson, a brilliant painter and collage artist residing in Seattle, Washington.




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Scotty Carter Showroom At Woods Cove Fine Art


Woods Cover Fine Art Gallery

February Art Walk Event At Woods Cove Fine Art Gallery

It has taken several months of hard work, advice, renovations and good people with a shared vision and enthusiasm rallying around the idea of creating opportunities for artists to show art in Laguna Beach, California.  This Thursday, February 4th, 2015, the Scotty Carter Showroom is officially open at Woods Cove Fine Art. We are proud to be a part of this movement in South Laguna Beach.  We invite you to enjoy a night of incredible art, music, good people and refreshments down at the gallery located at 1963 South Coast Highway on the beach side of the  road above the breathtaking Woods Cove in Laguna.  For those visiting galleries on the north end of town that would like to see the Woods Cove Fine Art Gallery, a new stop has been added to the Trolley route that drops off at Diamond Street just south of the gallery.  We believe this will give many people to see the new gallery that may have not come before because it was tough to get to.  That ends this Thursday! Laguna Beach First Thursdays Art Walk now connects with south Laguna via the Trolley, making this new gallery more accessible to residents and families that enjoy this once a month event.

The event is 6-9pm. Come see water sculptures by Scotty Carter including his new distressed wood frame metals in large format and his large canvas speaker unit.  Come test out his speaker unit using bluetooth technology to play your music using a smart phone to communicate and play through the speaker.  It is amazing!  All art sales include something you can’t get at the typical gallery.  Because the gallery is operated by Laguna Foundation For the Arts, a government recognized 5013c charitable organization, a tax deduction is possible with your purchase of art.  30% of the gross sale goes to the foundation which gives you a write-off of that dollar amount at the end of the year.

There will also be music from Jackie Pember and Eric Henderson.  Thursday night will be a great opportunity to see cool art, listen to amazing music and wash the experience all down with a glass of red or white wine!  We hope to see you all down there!  Don’t miss out!

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Tsunami Warning


By now my friends I am sure you have heard there was an earthquake registering between 7.9 and 8.3 on the Richter Scale off the South American Country of Chile with 3 aftershocks above 6.0.  It sounds pretty serious to me and there is a Tsunami Warning for Hawaii and the West Coast from San Onofre to San Luis Obispo. It is being reported on Facebook among members of the community that a tsunami is indeed on the way and due to hit at around 4:45 Am.  I myself will have finished my work for the night, watched a little bit of the debate, and indulged in a couple of hard to obtain micro brew IPA’s from Bob’s Fine Wines and fallen asleep. I feel pretty good well off the coast and in the hills.

In spending a grip of time on Facebook, I am seeing much of the community is either joking about the effects of a tsunami hitting this area or genuinely concerned. I don’t know how it will work out. Some in the community have indicated that their smart phones have lit up with this so-called tsunami warning, and whether or not this is precautionary or coming to fruition, it appears that there is some concern with beaches as far south as San Onofre, through Aliso Beach and the Laguna area all the way up to Ragged Point in San Luis Obispo.  It sounds like to me that there is potential to tear us a new one and the unknown in the science of offshore earthquakes and tidal waves leaves potential for damage and loss of life.  Let’s hope not!  For good measure, here is the Surfline Tsunami Report for review.

Interestingly enough, there was a 4.5 earthquake today in Big Bear which may have produced a small aftershock late afternoon and early evening strong enough to disorientate the newest member of the beer tending staff at a local tasting room I enjoy.  Pure speculation on my part but his behavior or reaction tonight was either wack and something I don’t want to know the root of or there was just enough earth moving to put the  clumsy and butter-fingered dude from the east coast  in a semi-state of alarm.  Ohhhhh he is special, no doubt about it. The small tsunami should arrive between 4:30 and 4:45 Am to Aliso Beach and Orange County producing a wave that pushes to the shore at a size that correlates to a disappointing surf report when compare to the recent run of waves. With yesterday’s tsunami warnings, the wave could produce a push that messes with the currents and rip tides in a way that is significant enough to warrant beach closures into tomorrow afternoon. There is also potential for damage to boats and harbors.

Aliso Beach has already had high tides with big surf recently so I would be surprised if this wave or series of waves did much to outdo the sand and sea weed that has been in the lot for a couple of weeks.  If it is not too much to ask I am pleading for compassion from Sue Nami in the hopes that none of the 7 fire pits are dragged out to sea and the water stays in the ocean!  It may be wise to avoid the water tomorrowallowing nature to take its course. I don’t feel like anyone will be missing anything when it comes to quality surf given the run we had for about 10 days.  Perhaps the remaining men and women competitors of the Hurley Pro feel otherwise so I will pray for their safety.

With the 2004 Indonesian and 2010 Japanese tsunamis, coastal communities understand globally the potential for a series of devastating waves following ocean borne earthquakes.  While this tsunami warning won’t amount to much, it does serve as a wake up call and reminder of what could happen. With visual evidence of the arrival of this wave or waves occurring before sun up, I will assume that some people will venture out into the water tomorrow morning.  Not even the 72 hour rule for pollution ripe with bacteria and carcinogenic urban run-off can keep some of these folks out of the ocean, and especially Aliso Beach with it’s propensity to be mucked up with the flow of the Creek during and after rain events for several days.

I am feeling like we have been lucky and have somehow avoided dangers that lurk in our oceans when the ground shakes beneath the sea floor.  There has been much talk recently about the vulnerabilities of Califonia and the Pacific Northwest to tsunamis.   For those vising the beaches tomorrow with hopes of being in or near the water, please be careful.




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Left Coast Brewery Reef Check Event


At the Left Coast Brewery Reef Check Event, I got to learn something about an incredible charity and meet Professional Surfer Courtney Conologue.  She was helping sister Charleen Conologue promote this amazing marine protection group at the tasting room with a $1.00 donation for every pint of Trestles IPA, South Coast IPA, Hop Juice, Wedge, Ale Epesteios, Voodo, Pink Bikini, Assylum, Almond Cream, Del Mar Street Lager and well you get the idea. The house was packed for a Monday Night so I will assume that a nice chunk of money went to the charity.

When young people do these charitable events, it is not uncommon to find them timid, shy and uncertain.  It does not make them any less supportive of the charity.  It just means they are still trying to find their voice and how to become comfortable using it.  I found Charlene to be engaging and intelligent.  She did a great job at the booth and having conversations with Left Coast patrons.  It was a nice touch to bring in her sister Courtney who is atop the Womens Professional World Tour and in town for the Hurley Pro. She was gracious with her time there taking pictures with fans and signing posters she brought in for the event.  I was a fan before but seeing her support a charity that protects marine ecosystems and having the opportunity to chat with her makes it personal.  I hope she wins the thing!

There are so many amazing charities out there doing great work and service to our communities.  I lean toward  those that support and have ties to wave riding, beach cleanups and marine protection because of my deep connection to the ocean.  Think about this.  Our home is 70% water and 98.5% of that volume is salt water.  The oceans brew up storms that deliver the 1.5% of the earth’s fresh water.  Our oceans are a valuable food source for people all over the world. Marine plants and organisms are being used in health supplements and medicines. Why again are we allowing urban runoff, plastics, cigarette butts, intentional toxic dumping and sewage spills to enter the ocean and damage marine ecosystems?  I believe human existence or the quality of human existence on this planet follows the health of our oceans and marine life.  Reef Check is a non-profit organization with offices globally that embraces the need for us to protect these marine environments and empowers volunteers all over the world to monitor and report on the state of reefs.

A distinguished gentleman by the name of DR. Gregor Hodgson founded the non-profit in 1996.  They have two mandates for their work. One is to protect the rocky reefs of California and the other is to protect tropical coral reefs.  The Aliso Beach and Laguna Coastline fit right  into this incredible effort to protect reef systems and marine life  and I know this area needs help too. This is important stuff and I commend Left Coast for aligning themselves with Reef Check.  The charity works with government agencies, corporations, universities and other charities to network that grow partnerships, sponsorship, awareness and education that help support the goals of conserving pristine reefs and rehabilitating reefs that have been damaged with environmentally sustainable solutions.

They have volunteer teams in 90 countries and territories which tells me we have enthusiastic volunteers across the planet who all believe in the need to protect our marine environments.  For that I humbly thank all of them.  I do not envision myself becoming a diver because I just don’t like not being able to breathe through my nose, and truth be told, it panics me.  I wish it were different but what I can do is support Reef Check by promoting their events and working to incorporate my work in the art field with events donating a portion of proceeds to the charity.   When they talk about creating awareness, networking and growing supporters, this is exactly how it works.  People will get involved if they know about the problem with solutions to overcome them.  These are all things Reef Check delivers well which tells us the army of people helping them achieve reef and marine protection is growing.

Education is a huge part of what they do with the goal of helping people become aware of the value of reef ecosystems and of the health challenges they currently face.  If not living on a coastline, it is easy to be removed from the importance of saving our reefs and oceans which makes the education component of their work so vital.  People will help if they understand what the issue is and there are organizations with solutions that they may be a part of. Another part of the education that is fantastic is the certification program for divers and the training in the Reef Check scientific methods which play an integral role in regular monitoring and reporting by volunteers globally. As a natural byproduct of the huge efforts they make to organize and grow a worldwide force of reef eco-warriors, they are winning support and inspiring local community involvement and action.  Our reefs and oceans benefit from this and as a wave rider and advocate for Aliso Beach, I cannot overestimate the importance of preserving and restoring these marine ecosystems.

Thank you Left Coast Brewery, Reef Check, Charlene Conologue and Courtney Conologue for your efforts to promote the preservation of the marine environment I love. I am a huge, huge fan of what you do and will do my part to help you with exposure for they great work that is being done and will need to continue to be done.

For those of you like me who won’t become divers in support of the Reef Check efforts, there is still so much you can do.

Like and share their galleries, pages and blogs on the website and all social media.  Here are some of them.

Reef Check Instagram  or @reefcheck

Reef Check Facebook Fan Page

Reef Check Twitter  @reefcheck

There was a line in a movie called Under The Rainbow years ago.  It went something like this:  “No dream to big and no dreamer to small”! In the context of that I would like to say that every day people can get involved and make a difference.

You may also donate to Reef Check online.

You can become a member of Reef Check.


You can attend charitable events that benefit Reef Check like the one yesterday night at Left Coast and Reef Check Events like the upcoming Save The Reefs Save The Oceans Gala October 1st honoring volunteers and supporters.

Get Involved!  Stay Involved!

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Tim Fulton


So the 2015 Skimboard Contest The VIC is in the history books and Tim Fulton is the last skimmer standing.  Congratulations Tim on a big win in a contest rescheduled from June to August that resulted in 3-5 foot combo swell and good conditions at Aliso Beach.  Sadly enough, I don’t know Tim Fulton although I can say a couple of things about him.  He took out very talented skimboarders to win this contest you.  Two of the guys he took out I know personally and have seen ripping Aliso Beach shore break.  Austin Keane, is a mellow and good-natured cat that simply tears it up.  I marvel at those dreadlocks bouncing as he expertly navigates the side wave at the south end of the beach to connect heavy shore break waves. Max Bourne is a young buck that has treated those that frequent Aliso Beach with step off surfing where he paddles into waves on a foam top surfboard and transfers to a skim board that he surfs the wave to shore. Not only are these two guys incredible skim boarders but also they are amazing guys.  I have the utmost respect for these two and can tell you they absolutely rip.

That Tim Fulton beat these guys says a whole lot about his ability.  I have never met Tim but recently found out he is a friend of Alexis at Left Coast Brewery. Alexis doesn’t know it yet but I am going to ask for an interview with Tim on his big win.  My intention was to watch this contest myself but as a body boarder hoping to get waves, the increased swell after about 30 days of puny surf got me all pumped up and chasing down waves in places other than Aliso Beach.  This in no way minimizes my enthusiasm and appreciation for Tim Fulton.  With that I leave you with…..CONGRATULATIONS TIM FULTON 2015 THE VIC CONTEST WINNER.

Check out the Tim Fulton Mini Movie!  This dude can skim!

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The Vic


skimboarding, skimboarding aliso beach, aliso beach

Skimboarder Photo Credit: Scotty Carter

Aliso Beach is synonymous with heavy shore break waves and the sport of skimboarding.  With roots in Laguna dating back to the 1920’s, it is fitting that Aliso Beach hosts the most prestigious skimboard contest in the world. It is called The VIC and according to the Best Of Laguna Beach Online Publication, it will go down in August for the first time in 32 years on Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th this week.  Tex Haines, Co-Founder of Victoria Skimboards and given credit for organizing and legitimizing the sport of Skimboarding, moved the world’s most prestigious contest from June to the end of August. Concerned that June would not deliver quality South Swell waves that Aliso Beach favors, Haines moved the contest in hopes of putting the best skimboarding talent in the world on the highest quality waves that this South Laguna Beach can offer.  As a body boarder familiar with the waves there, I think he made a wise decision, one I hope leads to one of the best contests ever.  Skimboarding has had such an incredible resurgence and the best skimmers on the planet deserve the greatest stage to perform on.

August 2015 has been a dismal month of surf with prevailing swells under 3 foot.  With less than ideal conditions for nearly the whole month, Mother Nature threatened to put some shade on the decision to move the contest from June to August.  The waves had to pick up some time and fortunately it appears that there will be waves for the contest.  Assuming that Aliso gets the waves predicted  from the Southern and Northern Hemispheres by forecaster Solspot, The VIC could be an action-packed, high octane skimboard contest with riders on the biggest stage in the sport and giving it everything they got.  It should be fun!

I have body boarded in South Laguna Beach for years.  I don’t know many of the skimboarders but the ones I do I have a great deal of respect for.  They are amazing people and I am inspired by their enthusiasm for the sport of skimboarding.  I wish them all good luck in the VIC contest this weekend.  I will be watching!




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Red Crab Invasion


red tuna crabs, red tuna crabs aliso beach, red tuna crabs laguna

Wrapped In Seaweed

If you have been watching the news or have visited Southern California Beaches from San Diego to Orange County over the last week or so, you know that red crabs are washing up on beaches and floating around in near shore waters.  They are little and you will not see the guys from Deadliest Catch scooping these things up off the beach.  To bad for them because the 2 foot waves beating the shore of Laguna Beach are far less perilous than the towering mountains of water in the  Bering Sea! Personally I have not seen these creatures or a red crab invasion since 1997, also an El Nino year, when I was body boarding El Porto in Manhattan Beach.  I noticed I was sitting in a huge bowl of salt water, red crab soup with these fascinating creatures scooting through the water bumping into me and occasionally washing up on to my body board. They are a strange brew with a flapping tail similar to a lobster and facial features resembling shrimp.  It was given claws or pinchers as they have been called, and yet I can’t imagine them defending themselves with what nature gave them. They are  1-3 inches in length and hardly a match for the shore break waves of Aliso and Laguna Beach and  I have read that once they are beached the curtain falls on their lives.

Hearing all of the news reports of the crabs, I wanted to see for myself that these were the same creatures I saw in Los Angeles County many years ago. They are called Red Tuna Crabs and under normal circumstances, hail from the sandy bottoms of Southern Baja California, Mexico and the Gulf of California. I have been told and heard that their appearance in our waters is the result of warm waters associated with El Nino, a weather pattern that has been debated as affecting our water and weather for the better part of 2 years and though it seems everyone has gotten on board with it being one, the seldom visiting red crab masses are the icing on the cake when it comes to the debate for me.  I was already a believer!  There are literally thousands of these things washing up blanketing the sand and turning the color of the beach a reddish orange.

red tuna crabs, red tuna crabs aliso beach, red tuna crabs laguna


There wasn’t a ton of them at Aliso Beach but they were there.  Most of them were no longer with us but there was the occasional shore flapper lying around. Aliso Beach is not a good place to beach as the little red army of crabs found themselves in the direct path of 2 foot waves detonating on the shore and hurling white water up the beach’s slope. They were helpless so I picked a few up that were tangled up in some freshly beached seaweed clumps to see if I could toss them back out to sea and give them a clawing chance, although the likelihood of them surviving this beaching wasn’t all that good. There was a group of little girls who were collecting them on a paper plate.  They were at a fire pit so I wondered if they would actually have their parents barbecue them between hot dogs and toasted marshmallows.  I did snap a picture with my IPhone 6 Plus of them sitting on the plate and they appeared to be headed to crabby heaven.

In Laguna Beach it is a marine reserve so technically it is unlawful to disturb them.  Certainly the law understands the human desire to save lives and the empathy we hold for our marine life.  Then again, maybe they don’t so I wouldn’t get caught red crab handed LOL!  It has been reported that people collecting them off the beach in Huntington Beach have cooked them and there have been other reports that they aren’t edible. Believe what you will but I can’t imagine there is much meat on them so they are hardly worth the effort.  It should keep local sea bird populations fat and happy and if the reports are true, they are being eaten by seals and sea lions. With warm water pushing local fish populations to colder waters to the north and seal moms chasing their fish food sources  leaving babies to starve, the red crab invasion could actually help if the seals found it in their best interests to eat as many of those things as they can while they are here. Perhaps for a short while, seal moms won’t have to leave their young and the pressure on Marine Mammal Rescue in Laguna to care for hungry and ill sea lions diminishes.  That may be wishful thinking but I hope the seals are eating as many red tuna crabs as they can while they are around.  I know local bird brains will make no apologies for gorging themselves in a feast that doesn’t come around too often.  For a short time, having a sandwich or food on the beach at Aliso might be safe.  If you were planning that picnic at the beach you just might be able to enjoy your meal while local seagulls are consumed with our crabby red invaders.

Nothing lasts for ever and neither will the days of red crabs coming north to Southern California and essentially serving themselves up on a platter for local marine life or rotting on a Southern California Beach near you!  Until they are gone, the red crab invasion is another interesting occurrence in the waters of Aliso Beach and all of Southern California during what has to be an El Nino weather pattern.

I have listed some related links below related to the Red Crab invasion that you might enjoy reading.  Until the next Aliso Beach article, Don’t Worry Be Crabby!


Orange County Register


Los Angeles Times

ABC Eyewitness News

The Patch Laguna Beach


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Including Laguna Sea Candy


Several months back I wrote about meeting Sean and Olivia who are a dynamic duo couple that produces a beautiful jewelry line using sea glass, molded by the sea water and fine sands of Aliso Beach.  I really liked the idea of taking something that was essentially garbage tossed into the sea and creating something that people would embrace as fashion and gladly wear as jewelry. You really should see their pieces as they are incredible.

I curated an art show with Noll Surfboards in San Clemente featuring the work of photographers Benjamin Ginsberg, Scotty Carter and Aaron Goulding as well as original paintings and reproductions from Jeff Albrecht.  I knew going in that the art work that lined the gallery walls would be exceptional so that the presentation was stunning was expected.  What did surprise me was that we were able to raise close to $450.00 with a charity raffle that was packed with incredible prizes.  I invited Sean and Olivia down to the gallery event and purchased $50.00 worth of Sea Candy jewelry to give away during the raffle.  These two are definitely young people that I have become a fan of and I wanted to show their company some love and support.  It isn’t hard to look at the business these two have put together and appreciate the concept and success.

There is another thing I wanted to do for these young entrepreneurs.  I wanted to include them in a classy and successful event because I know that they were taking notes and will find ways to be involved in charity moving forward.  The key to having a good raffle is securing desirable prizes.  We were successful at that with prizes that included Laguna Sea Candy jewelry, art, phone cases, a spa treatment and a Grip Dat for IPhone 5. As a national fraternity member with a mandate to work with national charities, I learned to enjoy giving back so having success at this event raising money for charity is like a badge of honor and a source of great pride.  Hopefully everyone that was there that night was positively impacted by the charitable aspect of the art show and finds ways to get involved with legitimate charities representing causes that are close to their hearts. As you know, charities always need our help!  Olivia and Sean are doing great things in the Laguna Beach community with this business and I will continue to develop creative ways to include them in art events with charitable causes.  I hope they enjoyed being there as much as I loved having them as a part of our event.  Knowing what I know about these two young go getters I am able to confidently say they will be leaders in this coastal community and will do some of their own charitable raffles and work and we will be right there to contribute product and support to their raffles.  That is how it is done!

Let’s do it again in the near future Laguna Sea Candy!



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Nyra Cruz


Nyra Cruz, Surfrider Aliso Beach Cleanup, Nyra Cruz Art

Nyra Cruz on last day working the Surfrider Aliso Beach Cleanup

Several weeks ago, I introduced myself to a young man by the name of Nyra Cruz who was staffing the Surfrider Foundation South Orange County Chapter Beach Cleanup at Aliso Beach.  Spending a lot of time there making sure I have content to keep this website interesting, I have chatted with him over the last couple of months.  He is a great guy and I can’t tell you how grateful I am that he and others like him care enough about Aliso Beach to administer cleanup events at my favorite part of the Laguna Coastline.

Making my rounds at Aliso Beach, I once again stumbled into Nyra Cruz representing the South Orange County Chapter of Surfrider Foundation. Nyra explained to me that today was his last event at Aliso Beach, needing to focus on his finals and senior projects at Laguna College of Art And Design.  Reflecting back  20 years ago, I remember how stressful finals were especially when it came to senior year.  At some point, you just want to get the heck out of school, and Nyra indicated that he felt it was time to graduate and join the workforce.  After he completes his work and gives the commencement speech at the prestigious college, Nyra will be a tattoo artist at a shop in Old Tustin and moving to Irvine to be closer to work.  He is extremely excited to get out of school and begin what looks like to me a very promising career in the art and design world.

Realizing that Nyra would no longer be there, I asked him how I could help keep the events going.  Apparently this South Orange County Chapter Surfrider Beach Cleanup group has partnership ties to Laguna College of Art and Design and will need another student from the school to takeover.  Nyra is unaware of any classmates that want to take over that role for an internship which is a little upsetting.  Surely in the small student body at the art college there is another senior in need of an internship required for graduation.  That is the hope anyways.

Nyra graduates on May 18th, 2015.  He is ready to start his life and I couldn’t be happier for him.  On behalf of and the community of wave riders, ocean advocates, surf photographers and Laguna Beach locals, I would like to congratulate Nyra on his successful completion of his work at the college.  I am sure he has a bright future ahead of him.  Growing up in the inland empire, getting accepted to a prestigious art and design college, graduating and joining the workforce in Orange County is worthy of celebration.  Good Luck Nyra!  Stay in touch and thank you so much for your dedication to the preservation of Aliso Beach.  You will be missed!

Nyra doesn’t have a website art the moment but you may follow his work on both his Facebook Fan Page  and his Instagram Gallery.  The website is in the works and he asks your patience as he bulldozes through finals to graduation! As for the status of the beach cleanup, I was wondering if Rick would allow me to help him keep the seat warm for the next senior at Laguna College of Art and Design to take over.  Hit me up Rick!



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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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