Category Archives: Aliso Beach Stories

Dianas Lesson

DIANAS LESSON

Sometime in the Fall of 2015, I introduced myself to a couple of young girls in the parking lot of Aliso Beach. One of them turned out to be Diana Rosa Cordova, the only Mexican, Female, Professional Skim Boarder on the planet.  Little did I know, a month later or so, she would sit with me for several hours and take a barrage of questions, and pass along what I now call Diana’s Lesson.  As manager of the Aliso Beach

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Diana Rosa enters friend Samantha’s hoverboard picture for Aliso Beach website

website, I am constantly looking for cool stuff to include in the blog.  Her friend Samantha was riding one of those hover boards that are getting a lot of press for spontaneously bursting into flames, and I asked her if I could take a picture of her riding.  She was hesitant, and I get it.  It’s like, who is the creepy older guy that I don’t know requesting to take pictures?  Samantha was joined by a wide-eyed, vibrant personality that you couldn’t help gravitate towards.  After talking to them about the website and how I envisioned it playing a role in the community, I told Diana that I would like to do a write up about her for the site.  I have talked with several people in the community about doing stuff on the website, and because her enthusiasm for the website was so great, I knew that doing a nice piece for her was meant to be.  Diana joined the picture with Samantha on the hover board with a flare that is typical for someone with the love of life and people that I have discovered she has.

We met up last weekend, and although I knew it would be fun to talk with her, I had no idea that when we parted ways that I would have so many great angles for stories that shined brightly on this young and rising skim board star.  Initially, I thought the pieces would focus on skim boarding, but during our conversations, it became clear that this enterprising and personality full, young lady was a collection of really neat stories that I feel blessed to pass along.

Diana indicated that she didn’t grow up with a whole lot of money.  Her parents divorced when she and her brother were young, and so her mom had to make a go of it as a single parent.  The feeling I get is that it made her mom tough, resilient, driven and willing to work hard for everything she gave her children.  I am happy to say that despite her friendly demeanor and kindness, Diana Rosa exhibits many of the same qualities she described in her mom.  Her mom has to be proud of the woman she has become and the woman she has the opportunity to be.

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Education was a topic I was really curious about when we spoke.  I was impressed by her college education in aerospace part manufacturing.  I can count on one hand the number of people that I have rubbed elbows with that are in that field, and there is no question you have to be smart to enter into the field at the college level.  This gives her an opportunity to work in a field beyond skim boarding if she chooses, and she indicated that her experience in the manufacture of aerospace parts has her thinking and believing she will become involved in her own projects. Diana is strong in her belief in what she can do and about the amazing opportunities that are out there for her.  Look out world!  I sincerely believe that she will do great things.  While learning of this part of her education was fascinating, it was what her mom did with respect to her desire for her children to get a quality education that paved the way for Diana’s lesson.

Diana comes from humble beginnings.  Her mother could not afford the kind of education she wanted to give her kids when they were young.  It didn’t stop her from making a quality education happen for her children.  As Diana tells it, her mother walked into a Montessori School and told the administration that despite not being able to afford it, she absolutely believed her kids should be there.  The school took them in and Diana tells me that it changed her life.  It was there and at a young age that she learned English.  They were her formative years, and this education left an undeniable, positive impact on this child who now as a young woman has the world in the palm of her hands.  What her mom did was so valuable proving that if you want something bad enough, go after it.  It changed the course of history for Diana.

So there it was, August of 2015, and Diana was entered in the most prestigious skim boarding contest called the VIC as an amateur.  Some of the men’s professional skim boarders from South Laguna that come down for contests at her local skim breaks in Mexico, encouraged her to jump to the pro event.  She made the leap and placed 8 with no sponsors, no competitive track record in the US, and absolutely nothing to lose.  She was not intimidated and she gave her best effort.  It is hard to be anything but excited for someone that just goes for it.

Diana has a lot of friends in the skim board community, and they have helped her remain in South Laguna to continue practicing and getting better.  Aliso Beach is a pretty good beach among the other South Laguna skim spots to hone her skills.  Fortunately, the water stayed warm until the middle of December, so she was able to get by without a wet suit.  Just half way past the middle of the last month of the year, the cold water in Southern California started to bite a little harder.  Not to be deterred, Diana successfully negotiated a wet suit sponsor that is dedicated to the women’s market.  She understands that opportunities come with effort and believing in herself.  Diana’s lesson is that if you want help or you want something, ask for it!  This type of success and application of lessons taught to her by an amazingly driven mother are the way a parent hopes their children respond when it is their turn to take on the world without them.

I am proud to know Diana Rosa!  I am proud to call her a friend.  I happily root for her in everything that she does and everything she hopes to achieve.  The sky is the limit for her.  She can do whatever she wants to do and she will continue to amaze on her journey through life touching and inspiring people wherever she goes.  If you can’t smile in the presence of this beaming and blissful young lady, I would not know what to say to you.  She is everything that is good about people.  Diana is kind, thoughtful, respectful, genuine, empathetic, articulate, smart, funny, light-hearted and so much more.  You might call me one of her biggest fans, but I do know the kind of impact that kind of personality can have on all sorts of people.  It is not surprising at all that she has been embraced in the Laguna Beach skim community.

Thank you Diana for spending time with someone that you barely even knew. I appreciate your being open about all of the personal things that you really didn’t have to talk about.  That was a conversation I will probably remember forever and I enjoyed it.  Whether you stay here in the United States, travel the world or settle back down in Mexico, you can count me as a friend.  While this story is one of many that I will write about you related to our conversation, this certainly is not the end.  I wish you the best and will root for you in whatever you do!

Diana Rosa Facebook

Diana Rosa Victoria Skim Boards Profile

Victoria Skim Boards Instagram @victoriaskimboards

Diana Rosa Instagram @diana_cord

Diana Rosa Tattoo Sponsor Pure Tatts

Diana Rosa Wet Suit Sponsor GlideSoul

 

 

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Great Big Plants

GREAT BIG PLANTS

Great Big Plants, tomato plant

Before Great Big Plants feedings for 5 weeks

I have been promising a Great Big Plants Story for months now, and I thought that people from the Aliso Beach and South Laguna communities would enjoy the article.  I am glad, however, that I waited to write this story because the success of the product since the time period that I was supposed to write the article in has shown 15 times better results.  Let me start by going back in time and talking about how a connection has turned into the promotion of an amazing product with real results in my own backyard.

My fraternity brother’s family owns Left Coast Brewco in San Clemente, California.  He had been nudging me for at least a year to come check out the tasting room.  Not sure why I didn’t take the bait of finely crafted beers until nearly 2 years of existence as a business, but I finally got there.  In addition to the quality of their micro brews, I was struck by the type of people that were in the tasting room regularly and felt like it could be really good for business.  The clientele at Left Coast is really cool. One of the people I met early in my time at Left Coast was this funny, young, twenty something who had a penchant for thrift store work shirts.  Everyone of them came with a different name sewn on the shirt and a different company name.  I found that hysterical and lo and behold Spenser was someone I talked to a lot while at Left Coast and a friend.

One day we ended up in a conversation about his family business Great Big Plants.  I told him that 2014 was very productive for tomatoes in the backyard and that 2015 had been for the most part a disappointment.  He suggested that I try his organic Great Big Plants solution which puts beneficial nutrients and microbes back in the soil that are beneficial to growth and productivity. He was even willing to bring me a complimentary sample.  It seemed like a lost cause but I was down to test it out.  The plants looked like they had completely given up and the life had been sucked out of them.

Two of the three tomato plants after feeding them the solution for a couple of weeks roared back with a deepening healthy, green color and new foliage.  There wasn’t a single tomato initially, and the flowers that started to spring to life seemed to be die and fall to the ground.  That was discouraging, and the bees that were so prevalent in the spring were nowhere to be found.  When this feeding process first started it was late summer early fall.  It was not a forgone conclusion that this would work but in addition to the color, the vibrant smell of the plant became more pronounced and a tomato magically appeared.  I began to notice that the local humming birds that chase each other around the yard for priority on the feeder hanging from the back patio, were now interested in and feeding on the nectar from the tomato plant flowers.  For awhile, the lone tomato grew larger and then one day, it seemed like there were 5 or 6 more.

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The plants aren’t out of the woods though as winter temperatures and predicted El Nino rains threaten the viability of keeping the tomato plants.  There are now 15 tomatoes on the plant which to me is absolutely remarkable.  They are all green and not quite at the ripening stage.  I am hoping that they continue to develop into a salad friendly fruit, or vegetable depending on who you talk to, but the branches are starting to split under the weight of the tomatoes.  This may force the decision to pick the larger tomatoes to see if placement next to a ripening banana starts a chain reaction that leaves them all red.  Understand that I had no expectation for results like this.  I was convinced that there was something to this solution when I saw the new, green growth and a single tomato formed. The odds were long so getting to 15 tomatoes in my mind is nothing short of amazing. We are approaching 3-5 days of rain, and I will be interested to see how well the plants hold up.  Plan B is to remover the big ones to see if they can be influenced to ripen by bananas.

Why is this important to Aliso Beach or South Laguna?  One of my initial thoughts was that the greens over on the 9 hole course at The Ranch At Laguna Beach were treated with pesticides and fertilizers that get into Aliso Creek.  As you may know, phosphorus in fertilizers contribute to algae blooms that upon their death leave a toxin called domoic acid that poisons shellfish beds, lobsters, crabs, fish and larger sea creatures that feed on them.  Couldn’t the Ranch at Laguna Beach make a change that keeps the greens healthy and pristine without the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers?  Wouldn’t such a move keep in line with the purpose of maintaining the Marine Reserve at Aliso Beach which is downstream from the golf course? Keep in mind this is just me thinking about the potential uses for Great Big Plants.  The company is already responsible for flipping a country club in South Orange County into their product and doing away with harmful fertilizers and pesticides. It makes me think that it is possible at a place like the golf course at the Ranch at Laguna Beach.

To be crystal clear though, I have no idea what the Ranch at Laguna Beach uses to maintain that golf course.  I think most would agree that golf as a sport generates so much interest and revenue that keeping the greens attractive and top notch are important to the success of the course.  I would bet that most would agree there is a good chance that like many other golf courses, the one here uses pesticides and fertilizers that we would be smart to keep out of urban runoff, out of Aliso Creek and out of South Laguna coastal waters.  Again, I have no idea what they are using at the Ranch.  I do think it would be cool if a business like Great Big Plants got in there and helped them make a change to organic solutions that went along way to protect local ocean waters and honor the Marine Reserve that environmental activists in Laguna worked so hard to create.

The product works.  I can and do enthusiastically speak on behalf of the Great Big Plants solution.  I thought that in order to talk about the product the way I should that I would need to perfectly understand the science of it.  With the plants coming back to life off season and producing tomatoes, all the evidence needed is the tomatoes growing on a couple of plants that were basically dead when the solution was first applied.  After a 30 day period not feeding the tomato plants, some of the foliage died and they did not look as healthy.  The tomatoes kept growing despite the leaves turning brown and the Great Big Plants feedings are back under way.  We will see what happens, but either way, there is more than enough to convince me that this product does what it says it will do.  I will leave the science of that up to Spenser.  My enthusiasm for and belief in the product was enough to connect Spenser with a large player in the landscape and organic gardening business in South Orange County.  The rest is up to Spenser!  It feels good to get this article out there and honor my friend whose family has a product I believe everyone can benefit from.  Linking the organic gardening and landscape business to Great Big Plants feels like a very natural fit with the opportunity to partner on business that makes a real difference in South Laguna and neighboring communities.  The potential for this company to redirect businesses and residences to organic and sustainable gardening is a massive opportunity.  In today’s climate, I feel like people are ready to circle back to growing their own vegetables organically and contributing to the environment by discontinuing the toxic pesticides and fertilizers that deliver foods laden with poisons and soils that produce runoff that gets into our salt and fresh water.  Using Great Big Plants is a win for everyone!

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New Years Day

NEW YEARS DAY

New years eve and new years day were extremely quiet for me.  I did head up to the office in Costa Mesa on New Year’s eve to find a new IPAD Pro left for me by the owner of the company.  He and I have been through thick and thin together.  Seeing his company grow like that was the best thing that could have happened to us in 2015 and it sets up what could be an incredible 2016.  I fell asleep around 10 that night as the days of Rose Parade route festivities, New Years hotel parties, Teke parties and drunken madness have all fallen out of sight in the rear view mirror.  I just can’t do it anymore and nor do I want to try.

On New Years Day, I went to the Laguna Foundation For the Arts Gallery to check on a partition wall being built for the Scotty Carter Art showroom.  It is getting close to being done and should be ready for art walk Laguna on January 7th, 2015.  There is lots of cool stuff going on at this new gallery with many exciting announcements to come.  While talking to Tony Cox, the lead partner in the foundation, I was also trying to coordinate an interview with the first Mexican female, professional skim boarder Diana Rosa.  I happened to meet her in the parking lot at Aliso Beach one evening at sunset and I was really taken aback by her energy.  After learning of who she was and talking with her, I realized that she would be someone that I would love to interview for the website.

seagull, california seagull, aliso beach, laguna

What are you eating?

On the first day of 2016, our schedules just couldn’t line up.  I waited at Aliso Beach for a couple of hours before a transportation issue delayed Diana and forced me to reschedule. I arranged to meet with her on the second so there is an interview coming with her that I am sure will be an interesting read.  While I waited for Diana on New Years Day, a couple was sitting at the tables over by the Sand’s Cafe. The dude had a to go box of fries and the natives became restless.  Those natives I speak of were, of course, the local seagull population that has never passed on the opportunity for a free meal.  As the couple began to sense the interest in their food, I told them that it could get ugly. Advising them that seagulls routinely steal food from people at Aliso Beach, the dude asked me if the birds would come down and beat him. I thought to myself, these are seagulls not vultures!  I told him no but that for a couple of fries they might buzz his head and do fly by maneuvers in attempt to separate fries from his grip.  He and his lady friend decided they had seen enough, but I noticed the dude was irritated with me.  The birds were circling and more were arriving by the second.  If you attract one gull the rest of them don’t want to miss out on an opportunity for a snack and promptly join in.

As he walked away, he did something that was super not cool.  As he headed towards the parking lot with his to go box of fries, he through a handful at my feet as I sat at the table. A cloud of seagulls descended over my head and to the ground to enjoy that seagull delicacy known as french fries.  I wasn’t happy!  All I could do was cover my head and hope that the seagull frenzy did not result in an excited seagull leaving a steaming pile on my head.  I dodged a bullet there and came out unscathed.  It’s like yea bro, Happy freaking New Year to you!  Any enjoyment he got from putting me in the seagull swarm was short lived because they fought over a few scraps and then followed he and his girlfriend to the parking lot.  When he realized that he had not gotten far enough from the hungry gulls he surrendered throwing his box of fries to the ground while sprinting for the beach.  I call that karma homey!  Here I tried to give you friendly advice and you threw those fries in my direction so I would be in a mob of flying sea birds.  You are only as good as the last fry you give them and if you have more, remember they are coming for you!  That was a classless thing to do to start the New Year.  Oh well!  As for me it was an interesting New Years Day to start 2016 in what is shaping up to be an amazing year for me.

Thanks for reading the stories on this site.  It is a lot of work and at times hard to come up with cool things to cover.  I am working harder to find thing to publish and ways to keep this website fresh and fun!  It should be a good year, and as I have always stressed, I am interested in collaboration with artists, skim boarders, photographers, surfers, body boarders, Lagunatics and anyone else that loves Aliso Beach to make this website an incredible representation of South Laguna, its beach culture, and water sports.  Email me at info@alisobeach.com if interested.

Photo Credit:  Scotty Carter

 

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No Wet Suit December

NO WET SUIT DECEMBER

Well I have finally made it and can say I have trunked it from April to December.  8 months of no neoprene or smoothie with warm water extending into a no wet suit December. When I got out of the car yesterday at Aliso Beach, the offshore wind was howling through the canyon with a bone shivering cool that pierced my new Left Coast hoodie. I had my doubts about wearing trunks.  After getting a cup of coffee in Dana Point and having a brief conversation with the inspirational American Wayfarers, I got to Salt Creek and almost talked my self out of this quest to trunk it until December.

I told my friend and fellow body boarder that I was going to roll down the street and get a wet suit.  He told me that he would head back home to study for a professional exam that was coming up because he didn’t want to paddle out into the 4-8 foot surf alone and without the benefit of a second set of eyes watching over him. So, I gave in and decided that I would deal with the cold water no matter what.  Patrick volunteered to wear his spring suit so that I didn’t feel like an ice cube all alone.

trunks in december

Body Board Gear for December 2015.

When we got down to the sand, I noticed the cold in the grains of sand as I walked towards the water.  I put my fins on and stood at the water’s edge testing the cold and watching big sets stack up on the outside. The water wasn’t so bad and I felt based on my ankle to knee deep experiment that the ocean temp was tolerable enough to green light this no wet suit December. I got to waist deep and a little bit of a chill hit me.  I used my Cartel Board to shield some of the white water rushing towards me in the shore break so that I didn’t have to process the cold all at once.  As I got deeper and my reaction to the water hadn’t changed for the alarming, I plunked down on the board and stroked for the line up.  I quickly had to duck my first wave and it was on!  The waves were a little bit wonky and warbly but their were some good sets with some liquid real estate to play on.

I don’t know why I am so fascinated by trunking it this far into the season. Everyone else is in full wet suits so I might be a little crazy.  Last year my run of trunks ended at the end of November, although I must admit that I sat at the water’s edge last year talking to Ron Pringle who was in trunks at Aliso in December on an 80 degree day.  I could have trunked it last December but chose not to paddle out that day.  The waves just weren’t that good.  It is remarkable to get waves in a no wet suit December.  I don’t know how far this will go but the water still seems to be around 65 degrees despite reports giving a range of 62-64.  I am happy that I am still wearing trunks, and while I know the days of this are numbered, will continue to wear them.

I ran into Stan Moniz in Northern Laguna, and he also was in trunks photographing the shore break.  I have way more insulation than he has if you know what I mean. I was shocked, if not a little bummed, to see someone else in trunks yesterday.  My trunks deep into fall experiment was a lunacy I had hoped to reserve for myself.  It would not surprise me to run into Pringle in trunks so it is impossible to claim the no wet suit December for myself.  I can say, however, that this is the deepest I have been in the Fall Season wearing trunks and I am both proud of that and stoked!  I prefer not wearing a wet suit and El Nino certainly has delivered unseasonably warm water to South Orange County and Southern California.  When the weather reverses and we experience a La Nina, I am expecting colder water to be more prevalent and extend further into the spring and earlier into the fall. We will see!  As for today, it will be one more in the no wet suit December!

 

 

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Spearfishing Pitfalls

SPEARFISHING

Spearfishing is not something you will catch me doing these days with the regular Great White Shark encounters wave riders and kayakers are experiencing along the Southern California coastline. From Surfside Beach to San Clemente, there is a growing presence of Great White Sharks, sightings and encounters.  Whether these occurrences are El Nino driven with warm water or simply a matter of Federal Protections for Seals and Great White Sharks helping populations coming back to healthy levels, the fact is that we are seeing more and more activity off our beaches.

I am aware that people love spearfishing.  If I were going out regularly to spear fish, I would be concerned with the attention a struggling and bleeding fish would create.  Great White Sharks can smell blood from miles away and they do appreciate free meals. There have been a number of sightings in San Clemente and it is generally known that juvenile great white sharks congregate off of San Onofre a short distance to the south.  We know they are in the area.  For a lucky young man spearfishing with his dad and brother, he was able to fend off an aggressive Great White Shark.  Said to be around 9 feet long, the teen had to repel several attack runs by the agitated shark.  The Patch reported that San Clemente High School Student Kainoa poked the attacking shark in the nose in a battle to get to shore safely.  I am happy to mention that he is just fine and has an amazing story to tell.

I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to be sitting in a boat large enough to dwarf a large Great White Shark in the current environment of shark encounters and sightings from in and out of the water. Spearfishing, while I am sure is fun, is just not worth attracting attention from one of the deadliest creatures in the sea.

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Black Friday

BLACK FRIDAY

Black Friday is pure insanity.  People wait in line days before the day after Thanksgiving to get the best deals of the Holiday Season.  In a particular news bit, a dude was interviewed that had camped out in front of this big electronics retailer 8 straight years.  He built a fort with a canopy that was stocked with a computer, television, refrigerator and a bed. Have people lost their  minds? I can see what all the fuss is about, it is so much fun to wait in line for days then to be crawled over and trampled on in the rush to get yours be for everyone else gets theirs.  Yep, so much fun!  The news even featured a woman who was waiting in line at a popular retailer who intended to sell the spot to help pay for medical treatments for a loved one.  These spots have become so valuable to holiday shoppers that I bet she makes a little money.

I am not sure these people understand opportunity cost.  By waiting out there days before, they are sacrificing  time with family for the holiday.  We get so few hours to spend with each other in this country with busy schedules that drive us apart that it is reasonable to believe that people value and want that time together.  These people that would wait out in front of these stores several days ahead sends a different message.  If you are out in front of a retailer for  7 days prior to the event, what happened to work days?  In that case are you not  sacrificing income to save a few bucks on shopping.  It is madness!

aliso creek

Day after Thanksgiving 2015

Pacific Coast Highway was clear sailing with virtually no traffic late this morning.  There may have been 15 people on the beach with the sun peaking through the remnants of a lingering storm that gave us a second helping of badly needed water overnight.  It was still warm enough for  flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt which makes coastal Southern California a really amazing place. I do not give up time at the beach around the holidays to go crawl over everyone to get the best deal.  I never will.  The angst involved in that frenzied rush of people to avoid being on the wrong end of the unforgiving law of supply and demand when it comes to these deals is of no interest to me.  It hardly seems like fun but those who do it, are wide-eyed and ready to go. There is no etiquette between people in this first come, first serve deals event.  If they run out before you get yours, sorry folks better luck next year.

This time of year is a time to decompress, get away from work, enjoy family and relax.  Retailers have always hijacked this time of year where people can chill out for a moment.  While many people run for the malls and giant retailers I am running as fast as I can the opposite direction.  I want no part of it.  You will find me on a beach staring at the ocean and enjoying my toes in the sand.  The name Black Friday has no meaning to me save for the fact that the evening news shows us how far people are willing to go to get a deal.  Although some retailers have drawn a line in the sand by decreasing their hours for Black Friday, many continue to disrespect time off for their employees and subject them to one of the most grueling retail days of the year.  As a former Trader Joe’s employee, I can tell you how a retail season sucks the air out of you.  It is exhausting,  and I feel terrible for those who have to work like that and take time away from family.

I would like to propose something a little different for the day after Thanksgiving.  Let’s call it Blue Friday.  The place that magic happens is down at Aliso Beach for me.  Any beach in Southern California would do, but I happen to find this one extra special.  To me it is hard to imagine anything more appealing than a beach in the amazing weather we have here in Southern California on the day after Thanksgiving.  Let the mind wander over the Pacific Ocean, dip a big toe in the salt water and take a walk up to the tide pools below the Montage Hotel and see if that doesn’t leave you better than you came.  Refreshed, revjuvenated, recharged and reinvigorated is how a leisurely stroll up this beach will leave you feeling.  I have no clue how some of you get this needed relief on Black Friday sales events.  From where I sit and type, you are all adding stress to your lives that is completely unnecessary.

It’s okay though!  Don’t worry about me.  I will be down at the beach healing, releasing mental fatigue, soothing the soul and being thankful for the amazing coastal environment that captivates and de-stresses me.  You all carry on knowing that I hope all of the madness was worth the craziness.  An hour down at the beach this morning was worth my time on this Blue Friday!

Sincerely,

 

Re-charged, revjuvenated, reinvigorated and soothed soul.

 

 

 

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Deep Conversation

DEEP CONVERSATION

A deep conversation ensued after I got a call from Larry Beard, the Aliso Beach hero who plucked a little girl out of Aliso Creek in a move that without question saved her life!  Submerging in the waters of the creek, Larry endangered himself by jumping into these waters and lifting this child from the water before she went under for good.  Knowing how rough these waters are and thinking about what a terrible place that would be for a child that cannot swim, I feel it was by the grace of God and an alert waterman that kept her alive.

Larry was grateful for the write up here on the website to which I responded by congratulating him for making a lasting impact on a young girl’s life.  When she got into a bad situation and the deck of the forces of nature were stacked against her, Larry helped her gain an upper hand.  She lived and that is amazing!   Without Larry a young life would have been taken.  Terrible accident, negligent parents and wrong place at wrong time would not matter.  The finality of a tragic loss of a child like this would render blame or explanation impotent.  No one wants to see a young girl lose her life like that and Larry sprung into action and made sure that the story ended positively.  By all accounts, the young girl is happy, healthy and doing fine.

My talk with Larry was an emotional one for him.  As an adult, husband and father, he understands deeply the connection of parent to child, and he would go to great lengths to protect his own children and family. He told me that it felt really good to be the one that had to spring into action to save this girl.  He told me it was amazing to think how greatly he had impacted this girl’s life in a very challenging and life threatening situation. I told him that with decades in Orange County beach waters, it was amazing that I had not been in a situation that required a rescue before 2012 and that I have rescued 4 total people since then in waters from Laguna Beach to Salt Creek.  I completely understand the gift that is saving someone’s life.  It is magically a blessing.  Larry felt like God had planned for him to be the one that recognized the situation with this girl paving the way for this incredible and yet improbable rescue in the turbulent waters of Aliso Creek.

Speaking about the rescue of this little girl evolved into a conversation about family and people.  Larry said something very profound.  He felt like it was amazing to be called on to act in this potentially deadly situation with this girl pulling her from a sure drowning.  He made a huge impact on me when he said that here he was able to rescue this girl and yet friends and family around him needing rescue were not responding to his help.  I have a lot of experience with this and trying to help people who didn’t want to be helped or weren’t ready to be helped, and absolutely that is heart wrenching and frustrating.  Sometimes people we love and care about, friends or family, aren’t ready to accept help.  You can offer money, treatment or advice, and no matter what you do to help, your interest in helping others out of difficult situations is rejected or falls on deaf ears.  It hurts.  It really does.

I told him that today I sent money to a complete stranger that I had a run in with online on Facebook.  In a Lakers forum, he took exception to me saying that Kobe was done as a player.  I forget what he said to me online but it was vulgar and I did not appreciate it.  I responded with the equally rude and insensitive question asking if he kissed his mother with that mouth.  The shocking reply was that he did not have a mother.  I am not a cold and callous human being so that really got me.  I apologized to him directly and told him that however he had lost his mother I felt for him and that I was sorry.  He too apologized, and so this unlikely friendship was born. Sensing that he was someone experiencing difficulties in his life, I befriended him on Facebook and have been watching his posts. He has appeared very down and expressing hopelessness so I have been encouraging him.  Some of what he said was very dark and I worried about this young dude. Today he asked for money for a bus pass so he could get to work at a new job.  I sent it to him in Ohio via Money Gram because it was an opportunity to help someone that gained my respect with the way he handled my apology.  I, like Larry, believe that we are called upon at times to make a difference in the lives of others.  We all can make a difference and impact people.

What Larry did inspires me.  How he felt about the blessing of being the one called upon to help this girl is simply amazing.  Humans do incredible things for others when they know someone needs help.  What Larry did was an absolute miracle! I don’t know if years from now this child will remember what he did. Her parents were described as being oblivious to what was going on and not aware of how close they were to losing their daughter.  Whatever this girl achieves or becomes in life, Larry Beard helped make her future possible.  He feels really good about that and aware that God called upon him to act, and he did saving a young girl’s life. Her only chance was Larry!

I wrote the original story having heard it from Brennan Clarke who was with Larry when this happened. He was incredibly grateful for the story and I really appreciated this raw and real, deep conversation.  With all of the drama and pettiness in life between people in this day and age, more of these conversations should take place.  We might just find enough common ground in them to actually see similar needs, hopes and dreams that connect us far more than we find ourselves separated from each other today in a chaotic, fast paced, and mixed up world.  Thanks Larry, what a great conversation.  I appreciate being inspired to help people more with your heroic and selfless act of love for this little lady who remains here on earth because you responded the way you did.  Such a great story!

 

 

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To Swim Or Not To Swim

TO SWIM OR NOT TO SWIM

To swim or not to swim at Aliso Beach, that is the question.  When you look at online reviews of Aliso Beach, a lot of the complaints this South Laguna spot gets is how rough the water is.  While the negative comments associated with experiencing dangerous wave conditions are truthful, every person that comes to the beach has the opportunity to review wave conditions prior to coming to the beach.  I don’t know many people that aren’t fascinated by the ocean and that translates to children and families that are disappointed when conditions are too rough and life guards are asking people to stay out of the water.  5 minutes of online review at a current ocean and wave condition reporting hub like Solspot could save the family a disappointing trip to the ocean.  Looking out over 5 days of forecasting for Aliso Beach and a long range forecast posted twice a week, people can plan in a way that their families and children can enjoy the waters of Aliso Beach safely.  If you are bringing kids or you are inexperienced in shore break waves, try and plan to visit the beach when the waves are 1-2 foot.  If you decide to come when there is larger surf, talk to life guards about current and expected wave conditions to make sure it is safe.

Aliso Beach is an extreme sloping beach with waves that basically pound the shore. When the tides are higher, the waves basically land at the water’s edge making even standing there risky.  Life guards will run up and down the beach whisking children and obviously inexperienced beach visitors away from the crashing waves. If you are going to take the waves on despite the elevated dangers in larger surf, you should wear swim fins.  Without these, the ocean has an even more powerful grip on swimmers when the conditions are dangerous.  People in the wave riding communities that are not skim boarders and surfers never enter the ocean without fins.

Aliso Beach, South Laguna, dangerous shore break, high surf, tourist beware

Tourist taking on big wave at Aliso Beach.

There are plenty of smaller surf days that are safe.  There are also plenty of days that will raise the question to swim or not to swim.  I took this photo with my IPhone in September of 2015. This tourist was trying to impress his significant other and swim out into the huge shore break.  There were sets 8-10 foot and the waves were pile driving the shore line.  He puffed his chest out like he was the man and ran out into the waves.  No he did not have any swim fins which on a day like this could be a life saver. He had my attention because I knew it wasn’t a good thing.  He had to get under at least 4 of these waves and he got thrashings probably unlike anything he has experienced in his life.  I watched him take these beatings thinking someone might have to go out and get this guy.  He quickly decided that it was too rough and he had experienced enough. The waves shoved him towards shore and as he tried to exit the water the water rushing from the high tide line back out to the waves was so powerful it was knocking him down and impeding his progress to shore. Of course that meant that the took a couple more beatings but he was finally able to overcome the grip that the Aliso Beach shore break had on him.  The look on his face when he got to shore was priceless. He had that what the hell just happened look on his face topped off with an incredible sense of relief. His venture out into conditions he should not have been in lasted oh about 15 minutes.  The dude was lucky he didn’t get blasted worse than he did but wisely chose to get out of the water and live to fight another day.  Aliso Beach is no joke. The decision to swim on a day like this can come with serious consequences.  The tourist got out of there before he got a taste of how quickly you can get in trouble in high surf conditions at this beach.  I am glad he made it out okay.

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Cool Story

COOL STORY

The Aliso Beach website has blessed me with the opportunity to share a cool story here and there.  Some are from my own experience and others come from the experiences of others who love this beach like I do.  It is not uncommon for me to visit the beach just to snap IPhone 6 Plus pictures to add content to this website.  With that work, it is not uncommon for me to start conversations with beach goers I had never met before.  This story has evolved from one of those conversations with strangers at Aliso Beach.

Kayaking Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Kayaking, Kayaking Laguna Beach

Aliso Beach Kayak

On March 22, 2015 I notice a man unloading his kayak at Aliso Beach.  Short on images for the things to do kayak page on the website, I asked him if he was okay with photographing his rig.  He was a good-natured guy who willingly talked about his personal life and his experiences on the water in Laguna Beach.  Come to find out, Dan suffered from kidney disease to an extent that caused him to have dialysis 2-3 times a week. The opportunity for him to break free of this intense treatment for a couple of days a week to enjoy time on the water was really special to him. He talked about all of the wonderful things he saw on the water and how much he loved it.

When I left the conversation on that day in Aliso Beach History, I asked him if he would be interested in an interview that helped tell his story on the website. I was extremely pleased with his positive response and enthusiasm with the suggestion of telling his cool story.  Here it is October 24, 2015 and it occurred to me that I had not gotten back to him. It is not easy to continually produce amazing content for the website so opportunities like the one with Dan was something I really didn’t want to miss out on and yet here I was nearly 7 months later emailing him to ask if he remembered me.  He did, and my reminder to him of the promise to write his story was met with an incredible response. The quality of his life has improved with a miracle that he and I will expand upon in a cool story. The development in Dan’s life is so inspiring and wonderful that I cannot wait to meet up with him to bring the news to you.  The Aliso Beach Website will break this story of zest for life, triumph and never giving up hope.

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Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake

YELLOW-BELLIED SEA SNAKE

Warm waters from El Nino are being given credit for the discovery of a yellow-bellied sea snake at the high tide line in Oxnard, California. I hope that someone has a back channel to Samuel L. Jackson because a Los Angeles Times piece quoted herpetologist Greg Pauly as saying there are probably a lot of these snakes in waters off Southern California drawn to our waters as a result of their food sources traveling north with the warmer waters.  I am pretty sure I have seen him get rid of a bunch of snakes on a plane.  We may need him!  This could mean they are in waters off Aliso Beach and that is a scary thought.

The snakes are black on top with a yellow underbelly and a flattened yellow tail with spots. The average length of an adult snake is between 2 and 4 feet and the snake spends its life at sea, rarely seen along shores.  They eat, drink and give birth in ocean water.  Their young mature in the mother unlike land based snakes who lay eggs that hatch their young.  An interesting tidbit on these snakes is that they wait for rains to drink fresher water that sits on the top layer above the heavier salt filled water. Highly venomous, their bites stun and subdue their prey and they subsist entirely on fish.  They congregate in areas of debris and flotsam in warm tropical waters and have the advantage of attracting their prey by floating motionless at the surface where they ambush unsuspecting fish.  They shed skin like land dwelling snakes but use a technique called knotting to lose their skin while helping to get rid of parasites and barnacles that attach to the skin and weigh them down. It’s bright yellow color is said to warn predators of a foul taste.  Those sea animals brave enough to try and snack on them quickly spit the sea snake up after trying to eat a yellow-bellied sea snake.

The snake is one of the most widely distributed snakes on the planet with populations in waters off Asia, Africa, Central America, Mexico and Baja, California.  The last sighting in Southern California was during the 1983 El Nino in San Clemente, California, making the discovery of this particular sea snake in Oxnard the farthest north one has ever been seen.  This is probably a sign of the strength of this El Nino because Oxnard typically has cooler waters than Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties.  I have seen several articles including Ocean Watch from Susan Scott that indicated the yellow-bellied snake is the only snake to reach Hawaii. The Hawaiian Islands are apparently a bit north of their typical ocean water habitats. Hawaii has always had strict laws forbidding snakes in Hawaii to protect local birds and animals.  I am sure the discovery of the yellow-bellied snake on the shore in Maui that is talked about in Susan’s blog created quite the stir.

While the Oxnard yellow-bellied sea snake found didn’t make it, it did go to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum where it has been studied and placed in a jar for preservation.  Snake expert Greg Pauly of the museum and Susan Scott both warn against handling the deadly snake.  This sea snake is credited for lacking aggression towards humans and only lunging at people when they are provoked.  Experts advise not to touch them if found onshore even if they appear to be dead.  They sometimes play dead when washed up and like many venomous snakes have the potential to inflict a reflex bite that expels deadly poisons even when the snake is no longer in the living. According to the Venomous Dangerous Snakes Website, most sea snake bites occur with fisherman sorting fish from their nets. If I were to ever need a job, you can cross that off the list of ones I would apply for.

One of the best reasons to alert the Department of Fish and Game and authorities if you happen to stumble onto a snake like this is so that you and other beach goers don’t get bit by one of the most venomous snakes on the planet. The bite will require an anti-venom that is both difficult to get and expensive.  There are articles all over the internet talking about the world’s critical shortages of anti-venoms and the challenges in producing them.  Where would one go to get an anti-venom for a yellow-bellied sea snake?  It isn’t even a snake native to our ocean waters and little is known about bites from them except for they seem to get fisherman in Southeast Asia working with their nets and processing their catches.  While defensive bites from the yellow-bellied sea snake do not always come with venom, I will not be testing the that should I find one on a Southern California Beach.  According to the Waikiki Aquarium, a bite could result in death from kidney failure, respiratory issues and heart failure.  Since these snakes live in the open ocean, there isn’t a wealth of information out there on where to get an anti-venom if you were to be bitten by one of these things. A bite is to be considered requiring urgent care and as far as I can tell, the anti-venom is available only in Australia from Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.  Though recorded history tells us an encounter and suffering a bite from the yellow-bellied sea snake is rare, I am including contact information for that lab below.

CSL Corporate
Registered Head Office

45 Poplar Rd, Parkville
Victoria 3052
Australia
Phone: +61 3 9389 1911
Fax: +61 3 9389 1434

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