By-the-Wind Sailors Wash Up On Hollywood Beach in Oxnard

By-the-Wind Sailors, Oxnard, California, 2024. Loren Lieb

Blue jellyfish-like blobs known as by-the-wind sailors, or Velella velella, continue to wash ashore by the millions along Southern California’s coast. While it might look like a massive die-off or another catastrophic event, experts say it is natural and normal and colonies of them have washed up along our coastline for years.

By-the-wind sailors are a type of hydrozoa that feed primarily on plankton and closely resemble the Portuguese man o’ war. One of their nicknames is “little sail” since they have a small, stiff sail that catches the wind and allows them to travel great distances across the world’s oceans.

They wash up in large numbers because they’re drifting in the wind and go wherever it takes them … and, right now, that’s the California coast.

The millions that have washed ashore in California recently will either rot away or be pulled back into the ocean by the tide. That’s nature doing “its thing”.

My friends Alan and Loren were on Hollywood Beach in Oxnard and snapped some photos of the palm-sized sailors and posted them on Facebook. They say, “They’re a beautiful inky purple-blue but it’s hard to capture their true colorful iridescence in photographs”.

If you’re lucky enough to see washed up colonies, look but don’t touch and keep pets away too. Velella feed by stinging plankton with barb-tipped cells contained within their tentacles. The venom is considered harmless to human beings, but beachcombers are cautioned not to touch any jelly-like animals found on shore, as some may react more strongly to the venom than others.

If you get a chance, walk our local beaches and maybe you can enjoy viewing this natural phenomenon while it lasts.

 

The Pasadena Casting Club

Casting Practice at Pasadena Casting Club,
Pasadena, California, 2024

Last Sunday, I went with several members of the Pasadena Village to the Pancake Breakfast and Open House at the Pasadena Casting Club. It’s located in the lush Lower Arroyo Seco, Spanish for “dry gulch”. It is a stream course canyon that begins in the San Gabriel mountains, runs the length of Pasadena  and joins the LA River south of here.

But back to the Pasadena Casting Club. First of all, the breakfast was great…scrambled eggs, pancakes and bacon all prepared outside by club members and served in the clubhouse. Lots of OJ and coffee. We were welcomed by several members, including several women fly fishing enthusiasts.

I was impressed by the large library of books on fishing in the clubhouse. Rods were available, free of charge, for visitors who want to practice casting whether they’re members or not. Some of the club members have been internationally recognized for contributions spanning decades and plaques attesting to these awards are scattered on all the walls.

The Pasadena Casting Club was founded in 1947. The casting pool is one of only three in the State. General meetings are held the second Thursday of the month in the evening and include “fish stories” and a program given by a guest expert on a current fly fishing topic. The club organizes a several of fishing trips each year, which include informal day trips as well as professionally guided out-of-state trips. Details can be found at www.pasadenacastingclub.org.

After breakfast, we went out to the casting pond and watched men practice their fly casting. They would cast over and over again. The line responding to their whippy actions like a well-rehearsed dance partner.

Daisy, Pasadena Csting Cclub

And I fell in love with Daisy, the Basset Hound, who was patiently waiting for her owner to take off his wading boots and give her some attention. In the meantime, I tried to keep her occupied. Every time I left, she starts to bark so I made several return trips.

I can’t believe I’ve never been to the Lower Arroyo before. The area was bustling with people and lots of dogs seeking a release from indoors after many days of rain. It’s beautiful and has an archery range, horseback riding and hiking trails that run along the LA River. The view of Pasadena’s Colorado Street’s “Suicide Bridge” from the parking lot is impressive.

The day was a hit — learning about fly fishing and also discovering a gem of a park that I’ll be back to soon!

Windswept in Newport

Sunset, Newport, Rhode Island, 2023

Founded In 1639, Newport is on the southern tip of Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island. This sailing capital of the world has many charms include its well-preserved colonial architecture, art museums and galleries; its America’s Cup sailing heritage; its Gilded Age mansions and its jazz and folk festivals.

I’ve spent the last two summers here and enjoy exploring the many wonders that are in Newport. The Redwood Library is walking distance from the condo we’re renting on Catherine Street. It opened in 1750 and is the first purpose-built library in America — part library, museum, rare book repository and research center. I’m trying my best to read a book a week while here!

Trinity Church was completed in 1726 and has been beautifully restored. This Episcopalian church has box pews of various shapes and sizes. I’ve never seen this setup before but learned they originally were built to keep parishioners warm during the winter before the building was heated. Duby and I sit in box 99 which is where his grandmother and parents once sat. A striking feature is the triple-tiered chalice-shaped pulpit that soars in front of the altar. The church is surrounded by a cemetery; some of the gravestones go back 300 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ellen Dawson and I took in the umbrella installation at the Brick Marketplace on Thames Street near the wharves. These colorful umbrellas are part of the Colorful Sky Project. Up, up and away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took a tour of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, the official flagship of Rhode Island, which is docked at Fort Adams. This tall ship is the largest civilian Sailing School Vessel in the United States. Its namesake is the Commodore who was the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned as I share various adventures while I’m here this summer.

Wishing you a good summer!

 

Spring has Sprung at Descanso Gardens

Japanese Garden, Descanso Gardens, La Canada, California, 2023

I wasn’t able to visit Descanso Gardens for the last eight weeks as I recuperated from my right knee replacement. Glad to say, the worst is behind me and I’m walking almost pain-free.

Two weeks ago, I ventured out early to the Gardens when members can get a jump on the crowds.

 

 

 

 

What a beautiful sight it was. The garden was alive with color, foliage and blooming plants. Abundant tulips along the Promenade, fragrant lilacs in the Lilac garden, cherry blossoms surrounding the Japanese Tea House were some of the spring flora. Bright orange Clivia plants formed borders along many walking paths.

The recent rains dropped several Coastal Live Oak trees to their knees  in the Ancient Forest. A big loss for the Gardens. Luckily, there are 1,000 plus more Oaks still standing in the 165 acre garden.

I felt fortunate that I was back at a place that I love and seeing it at the height of flowering!

So I’m sharing some highlights with you.

Enjoy!

Wissahickon Walk

Wissahickon Valley Park, Chestnut Hill, PA, 2022

I’ve visited Philadelphia many times over the past year visiting my good friend.  Duby lives in Chestnut Hill in northwest Philly. It’s a charming area that has deep historical roots. When I arrived for my first visit, I kept remarking how green everything was. Majestic cedars, dogwoods, red maples, ash and sycamore trees fan throughout the city. In fact, Philly has 2.9 million trees with a tree canopy that covers 20% of the city.

My first morning there, Duby took me for a walk in nearby Wissahickon Valley Park. We entered it on a dirt path that is less than a block from his home.

The park’s name comes from the Indian Lenape word wisameckham, for “catfish creek”, a reference to the fish that were once plentiful in the Wissahickon creek that runs through it, eventually merging into the Schuylkill River.

I walk that park most mornings either alone or with Duby.  Although it’s called a park, I experience it as a beautiful forest. The path from the road quickly leads into a canopy of trees. Fallen trees, some covered by fungus and an array of colorful leaves, lay by the side of the path line. If a tree fell across the path, a chunk has been hewn away to allow passage.

I often sit on one of those massive trees midway through my walk just to relax and take in the sounds and absorb the beauty that surrounds me. Occasionally, a mountain biker, a jogger or a hiker passes by. Once Duby and I met Ellen, an 80-year-old tiny but spry Black woman walking her small dog named Howard. She had on delicate black leather ftats with a leather flower near the toe of the shoe. We talked and she told us that she had been a singer in Europe. Her mother-in-law was a doctor and when she heard Ellen’s coloratura soprano voice as a young woman, she sent her to Europe to study voice. Now, she mostly sang in the choir at church. I asked her to sing and she let out a high piercing note that shot through the trees.

A wooden bridge along the path is a popular spot for people to toss sticks to their dogs into the creek below. The dogs run back and forth between the creek and their owners, tails wagging crazily as they drop the stick for another romp. Dog walkers with 3-4 dogs in tow let their charges off for a refreshing dip. Something about a dog splashing around in water, unaware of anything but the creek and playing is joyful to watch. Not a care in the world!

When I leave the park, I feel refreshed — even though I haven’t retrieved a stick or frolicked in the in the creek — I feel joyful!