california · Uncategorized

The Blowhole

Originally published 28 January 2014.

Hello, All! As you may know, I just got engaged last month, and so did my best friend Valarie! So what better thing to do than have a little bachelorette excursion to visit her in Southern California!

The morning came early at about 5:00am. I drove to my fiancee’s house because he kindly offered to let me park at his place and drive me to the airport (only 10 minutes from his house). The flights were uneventful, but Monday evening was spent catching up with my best friend and seeing her new house, including orchards out back!

Tuesday morning dawned beautifully. Val’s fiancee Steve made us breakfast, Val and I packed our lunches and a change of clothes, and off we went to board a boat bound for the Channel Islands National Park!

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Channel Islands

The boat ride to the islands was chilly, but quite beautiful! The water is teal and clear, and you can see very far down. We saw a stellar sea lion, who is quite a ways south of his Alaskan homeland, lying on a sunny buoy. The boat company said they don’t see stellar sea lions often, so that was a real treat! Next we saw harbor seals and California seal lions popping up to say hello and to warm themselves, and dolphins raced us!

 

And then the islands came into view! We docked and departed onto Scorpion Island and headed straight to the kayak headquarters–we had much to see! We opted for wetsuits and kayak jackets to help us stay warm, and we donned the mandatory helmets and PFDs (personal flotation devices–or life jackets).

Our guide, Laird, was fantastic! He told us everything we needed to know and helped everyone in the group into the water before getting in himself. Then we set out to find some sea caves and wildlife! The Channel Islands National Park is home to 15 of the top 20 largest sea caves in the world, including the second largest! The tide was too low and the water too choppy to go into all the caves we saw, but we did get to go inside one!

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Aside from caves, we saw coral, sea urchins, anemones and starfish in all colors of the neon rainbow! We learned about a type of kelp that grows here that’s like an underwater tree. They waved at us from below and just brushed the surface with their “air bladders,” which allow the plant to stay close to the surface so the leaves can get sunlight. We use the slimy stuff they’re covered with for a lot of things, including toothpaste!

Onward we go! While making our way around, Laird talked to us about the history of the island. The chain of islands has been called the American Galapagos because there are so many endemic (unique to the island) species! For instance, there are island foxes on each of the islands, but they all have slight variations because of the way they’ve adapted to their immediate surroundings, and they’ve not been able to move from island to island to keep things mixed up! There also used to be pygmy wooly mammoths on the islands, and some of the very oldest human fossils have been found there!

Next we came to the namesake of this post… THE BLOWHOLE! We had just started toward the east side of the island, and … Thar she blew! The conditions were just right today to create blowholes in the sea caves!

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The Blowhole!
Water rushes in and pushes out the air, which creates a vacuum. Then the water explodes like the blowhole of a whale! Laird said those were the biggest ones he’d seen in his years of doing this, and we sat watching it happen again and again for at least 15 minutes! It was fascinating, and I’d even call it majestic!

The the inevitable happened. Val and I have a long history of getting ourselves into very precariously interesting situations. And this day was no different! We got swept onto a rock and ended up at an odd angle before another wave came to sweep us free! Teamwork prevailed, and I’m happy to report that we did NOT tip the boat or fall out! I’ll freely admit I thought we’d fall out and go under, but Laird’s expert training and Val’s water mastery got us through on top!

Onward ho! We saw lion’s mane jellyfish, which look like plastic grocery bags floating around in the water, and Val got stung by a teal and purple anemone! We got out of our kayaks when we came to a sandbar and explored a part of the island called shipwreck beach–oh dear! Apparently there was a shipwreck there several years ago, and some of the pieces are still scattered about!

Back into the kayaks and back to the starting beach. We got back to the ferry in plenty of time and headed back to the mainland a few minutes early. The boat stopped at the blowhole that we kayakers had discovered so everyone could see! People ooohed and ahhhed, and then a big one came a drenched the onlookers on the boat! And they didn’t learn their lesson because then it happened again!

More dolphins came out to play on our ride back to the mainland, and some folks even saw a whale! I’m so bad at sighting anything, but I’ll take people’s word for it! We did, however, spot a beautiful sunset!

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Now we’re back at Val and Steve’s house, and Steve is making us supper!.Today’s adventure may be complete, but tomorrow’s adventure is still coming!

Tomorrow… L.A.! I told Val I feel like a foreigner coming to America for the first time! I’m too excited about going to L.A.!

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