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What's To Like At The Beach?
It's Not Just About Building Sandcastles Anymore
Because I live in a beach town, being at the beach isn't the same. There is more to it for me now that I live here and see the beach on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, I still love the beach, but I see it in a different way.
When I was a kid, I used to like to play on the beach. I used to take my shovel and bucket and dig. I used to take the sand, wet it a little, pack it with my hands and make sandcastles. I used to have a frisbee catch or run in the water and jump a big wave. I used to love getting wet and being carefree.
I still love the beach but it is different. I am 59 years old now and the beach means something different to me than it did at 9. Now I sit on an expensive beach chair from REI and I make sure I apply plenty of sunscreen and wear a nice pair of shades. I am much more of a spectator nowadays and I like it that way. I see a whole lot from the vantage point of my beach chair or sitting on a nice big boulder.
I see the mountains touch the sand. I see the marine layer slowly move ashore and pass over my head to parts inland. I see the large, big-billed sea birds flocking over the Pacific in unison, then dive bombing in the water for a fish. I see the hang gliders, wind surfers, the boogie borders, the surfing dudes in wet suits, the people on boats...The list goes on and on.
I still love the sand, sun and water--but it's different now. I see much more.
The Marine Layer
I've always been fascinated by the marine layer off the California Coast. I am still in awe of how the marine layer hovers over the ocean and makes its way inland like slow moving angels. In Santa Barbara the marine layer hovers atop the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains. It's a sight to behold.
What is a marine layer? The air near the water's surface is colder than the air above it which creates an inversion. Together this forms a layer of cloud near the water's surface. These are stratus clouds that can extend for long distances and relatively low lying. The marine layer usually lingers until the afternoon when the sun gets strong and burns off the layer. But sometimes the marine layer doesn't burn off and stays throughout the day and night. The marine layer is prevalent in the spring and summer months, particularly in May and June.
What do you like best about the beach?
Where the Sun Shines Best
I love to feel the warmth of the sun when I'm on the beach. When I'm at the beach that is one of the main things I think about--how hot is the sun. On the Central Coast of California where I live, the sun gets hot but it's not oppressive. Because the sun never gets too hot in Santa Barbara, I can stay on the beach longer.
Some facts about the sun:
- The Sun is a star at the center of our solar system
- The Sun is 4.6 billion years old
- Its surface temperature is 5500 degrees celsius
- One million earths could fit inside the Sun
- The Sun is almost a perfect sphere
- The distance from the Sun to the Earth changes throughout the years
- Light from the Sun takes eight minutes to reach the Earth
- The Sun is responsible for the Earth's climate and weather
The Palm Trees at the Beach
I can't help but look at those tall thin palm trees up above my head. I am in awe at the way they reflect the light and sway with each passing breeze but never tumble.
There are over 2,500 types of palm trees in the world. One of the more common palms in California is the California Fan Palm Tree. This palm is thicker and shorter than the palms that line the beaches in Santa Barbara. Those palms are called the Washington Robusta. They are tall and skinny and seem to reach up to kiss the sun.
When I first moved to Santa Barbara, I was amazed that they were everywhere. I would stare at them like a tourist stares at tall buildings in New York City. It makes me think of a tropical paradise. The palm trees are a big part of the beach for me, without them the beach would be sorely lacking.
Dogs on the Beach
There's a sense of freedom that exists for dogs once their paws hit the sand. The house and neighborhood rules against barking and jumping are out the window. They are free to do what they want and to explore the rock, sand and beach with no leash and no restrictions.
They can chase seagulls, run after gooey tennis balls, sniff other dogs, get their snouts caught in seaweed and above all--jump into the ocean and get soaking wet!
They are free to get as muddy and as dirty as they like. And at one local Santa Barbara beach getting dirty is no problem; there is a little coin-operated kiosk by the beach where doggies can get showered and shampooed by their owners. It's really a dog's life at the beach.
Taking My Beach All In
Now when I'm at the beach, I take it in all in. I sit on a my folding chair and observe everything at the beach. I observe the surfers behavior--their patience and their skill at riding the wave. I observe the hang gliders as they soar overhead and as they navigate their landing. I watch the fisherman sitting on a rock casting and reeling fish back in. I watch the dogs surf the waves without a surfboard. I watch the high tide roll in and roll out. I watch the white cottony marine layer hover and create a cool, refreshing early morning.
I take pictures. I listen to the surf hit the rocks. I watch the birds scour for food and dive bomb into the ocean to catch a fish. I look at the beach from a cliff and see it from a different perspective. I see the beach in the morning, afternoon, and sunset. I see the beach in all its beauty and glory and I am happy for the opportunity to live in a gorgeous beach town.
Tell me what you see at the beach. Is your beach special to you like it is for me? I would like to know.