Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dana Point Headlands

Dana Point, located in Southern Orange County, is named after Richard Henry Dana, Jr. who sailed in a hide brig named The Pilgrim to San Juan Bay (Dana Point) as recorded in his Harvard Classic titled Two Years Before the Mast.

San Juan is the only romantic spot in California. The country here for several miles is high table-land, running boldly to the shore, and breaking off in a steep hill, at the foot of which the waters of the Pacific are constantly dashing. For several miles the water washes the very base of the hill, or breaks upon ledges and fragments of rocks which run out into the sea. Just where we landed was a small cove, or "bight," which gave us, at high tide, a few square feet of sand-beach between the sea and the bottom of the hill. This was the only landing-place. Directly before us, rose the perpendicular height of four or five hundred feet. how we were to get hides down, or good up, upon the table-land on which the mission was situated, was more than we could tell... 
...there was a grandeur in everything around, which gave almost a solemnity to the scene: a silence and solitariness which affected everything! Not a human being but ourselves for miles; and no sound heard but the pulsations of the great Pacific! and the great steep hill rising like a wall, and cutting us off from all the world, but the "world of waters!"

 Nowadays, you won't find solitariness, but a full harbor, the Ocean Institute and visitors and locals mingling on benches overlooking the sea to the tunes of Fleetwood Mac being strummed by a friendly regular. 

Straight up the road to the top of the steep hill is the Nature Interpretive Center and a fenced trail along the headlands. Here's a painting of the crew of the brig heaving cow hides off the hill on the wall of the interpretive center with a diorama in front.


My older two like the nature center, but aren't too thrilled about the trail because of the restrictions. They prefer freedom to roam over great views, understandably.

Here's a very blurry picture of an electra buckmoth we saw on the trail

The views are spectacular and many people come here in hopes of sighting whales.

I love the sky. Are these cirrocumulus clouds? They ripple as if they're a reflection of the waves and oh how the seagulls and pelicans soar in that sky!

Marine helicopters fly by every so often heading south to Camp Pendleton

 Back down in the harbor is a replica of the Brig Pilgrim which they sail annually at the Tall Ships Festival.

Here's a shot of the breakwater showing the difference between the active sea and the calm of the harbor. How many analogies could we come up with here? 

A willet from the tidepools last week feeding on the organisms in the sand:

I'm not sure about this one, but I think it's a whimbrel. The beak distinctly curls downward, but it's not long enough to be a curlew. Or maybe it is, what do you think?

Last but not least, this was an interesting somewhat-nature sighting; she won a grooming award for her colorful work. 

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