Channel Islands National Park

The first place I went on Tuesday morning was the Visitor Center for the Channel Islands National Park.  The Park itself is a set of five islands off the coast of southern California.  The Visitor Center is on the mainland, in Ventura, only a few miles from where I was staying on Oxnard.

The only way to get to the islands is by boat (or seaplane, although I haven’t seen any of those around yet).  There are some charter boats which will ferry you out there or you can take your own boat.  Once you are on the islands the only way to get around is on foot or by kayak.  The only vehicles allowed on the islands are official Park Service vehicles.

I didn’t plan to go out there this trip but some day I would like to.  This time of year advance reservations are needed to take a charter boat out and, given that I don’t have the stamina to walk much, I wasn’t sure how much of the islands I’d actually get to see.  I have seen a show on public television about the islands and they appear to be amazing, including plants which aren’t found anywhere else.

The Visitor Center is on a peninsula which includes several shops and restaurants, a large marina, the Ventura Yacht Club, public beaches, and of course the Visitor Center.

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Looking at nearby things in the water was no problem, but the visibility looking back at the coast wasn’t so good:

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The Visitor Center has a 3rd floor observation deck from which I took these photos:

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And when I got off the elevator on the 3rd floor I saw this poster, showing formations just off the coast of one of the islands.

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After gathering my information and asking questions at the Visitor Center I walked out to the beach to watch the surfers.  The guys (and so far I have only seen male surfers) when I was there around 10am local time appeared to be young (teenagers) and weren’t having very good luck.  I waited quite a while but didn’t get any good shots.  Surfing can apparently be quite time consuming.  There appears to be a lot of “bob and wait, bob and wait” until you see the right wave coming at you.  And if you don’t time it just right, the wave passes you by but pushes you inland and then you must swim back out to your spot, while getting pushed back by even more waves, and wait some more.  The kids I saw in the morning would no sooner get up on their boards then they would wipe out (fall off).  By the way, the surfboards are attached to their ankles by long cords so they don’t have to track them down after getting separated from them.

After a while I gave up and did some other things in town but returned later when I found some slightly older guys there.  The waves were even higher and these guys seemed to be pretty good.  It can be hard to track them when you are zoomed in with the camera but I managed to get some decent shots.

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And then – bob and wait, bob and wait….

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I should get more practice later in the trip.  When I click off a shot there is a slight delay before I can take another one and I often lose my target (same with trying to get photos of birds or helicopters in flight).  I tried putting my camera in “machine gun mode” which clicks off continuous shots but still didn’t have much luck (and it only takes about 7 shots).  I may need to suck it up and get a more expensive camera.