Editors note: Today we have another post from our roving correspondent, MaryKate. This time she travelled to the Channel Islands off the coast of California. I hope you enjoy her report!
I’ve recently become even more enthralled with our country’s amazing National Park system. So when I headed to Los Angeles for an event with my friend Molly a few weekends ago, I jumped on the opportunity to visit two of our country’s jewels: Santa Monica National Recreation Area and Channel Islands National Park.
Just 35 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area is an escape from the bustle of the city. We headed to the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center for some orientation (and souvenir shopping), and did the short but steep hike up to Inspiration Point. We saw lizards and birds along the way, and the dry landscape made for dramatic views against the Santa Monica Mountains:
That Saturday, we took a morning boat trip out to Anacapa Island – the smallest of the Channel Islands – with a company I’d highly recommend: Island Packers. For just $29 each way, the beautiful boat ride alone was worth the trip. On our way to Anacapa, we enjoyed stunning views of Oxnard Harbor, a few Harbor Seals “sunning”, and even an illusive Minke Whale (he was too quick to photograph and never came back up).
The Channel Islands are truly a magical place, sometimes called the United States’ Galapagos Islands because there are 145 species of plants and animals only found there. We stayed 3 hours on the island exploring, seeing as much as we could, and eating the picnic we brought, but there are many arrival/departure options so you can stay as long as you’d like (or even camp over – although the smell of pigeon poop was rather strong!).
I also enjoyed playing with the fish eye lens I borrowed from my Dad – I thought it brought an interesting perspective to the Island.
On our way back to land, we had the treat of a humpback whale doing acrobatics for us: for about 10 minutes we watched him partake in “pectoral slapping” – spinning back and forth and slapping his fin on the water – quite the site juxtaposed against a giant oil rig in the background.
If you ever find yourself on the West Coast, it’s definitely worth the trip out to the Channel Islands (and a hike over in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area). It’s amazing to find so much nature near such a large metropolitan area. Check out the other photos from my trip in this flickr album (including a life bird: the Rock Wren!).
Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post. Now, go make some photos!
©2016, MaryKate. All rights reserved.