California: Beautiful Catalina Island

View of Avalon from Hilltop

View of Avalon from Hilltop

Avalon Harbor

Avalon Harbor

Eagle Statue at Catalina Ferry Terminal

Eagle Statue at Catalina Ferry Terminal

Catalina Sea Life Tile Mural

Catalina Sea Life Tile Mural

Historic Catalina Tile Fountain

Historic Catalina Tile Fountain

Allen's Hummingbird

Allen’s Hummingbird

Catalina Island has been famous as an island getaway for southern Californians for over 100 years.  Early advertising boasted “In all the world, no trip like this!”  In 1957 the Four Preps sang “Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me”.  Dick Clark dubbed it the first surfer song, and Brian Wilson said it was a major influence on the Beach Boys.  A fun LA Times article about the song is at:  http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-ca-socal15jul15-story.html.

The maritime distance from the Los Angeles mainland to Catalina Island is actually 22.3 miles, which is easily traversed these days by high speed ferry.  In 1894 messages were sent there via Carrier Pigeon Service.  Notes were printed on tiny oilskin squares, rolled up, and placed into little canisters on pigeon legs.  Within an hour a pigeon could complete the ocean crossing and deliver the message – twice as fast as steamships at the time!  By 1902 the service ended when wireless messaging became available.  We were charmed by the island’s beauty and landscape.  Visitor information is at:  http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/.

California: Stunning Glass Church

Wayfarer's Chapel on Hill Overlooking Coast

Wayfarer’s Chapel on Hill Overlooking Coast

Garden at Front of Chapel

Garden at Front of Chapel

Round Window in Center of Chapel

Round Window in Center of Chapel

View Looking into Chapel

View Looking into Chapel

View Looking Up in Chapel

View Looking Up in Chapel

View Looking Out from Chapel

View Looking Out from Chapel

Chapel Wedding Picture in Visitor Center

Chapel Wedding Picture in Visitor Center

Chapel Bell Tower

Chapel Bell Tower

View Overlooking Foggy Pacific

View Overlooking Foggy Pacific

Black and White Image of Walkway Outside

Black and White Image of Walkway Outside

Beautiful Pink, White and Yellow Rose in Garden

Beautiful Pink, White and Yellow Rose in Garden

Colorful Bird-of-Paradise Flower in Garden

Colorful Bird-of-Paradise Flower in Garden

The Wayfarer’s Chapel is a beautiful church for people of all faiths in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.  A natural cathedral is formed by redwood trees arching over the chapel’s clear glass walls.  The chapel is a place of meditation with emphasis on the harmony of the natural world with the inner world of mind and spirit.  Only natural colors and materials were used in building the Chapel, such as sky blue on the bell tower, green on the floor, and local wood and stone.  The sanctuary and garden sit on a hill overlooking the foggy Pacific Ocean.  The overall effect is stunning!  This Swedenborgian church was designed by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright).  Wright believed in the principle of “organic architecture” – creating buildings in harmony with the environment, including repetition of patterns in nature such as those found seashells and trees.  The Chapel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a popular place for weddings.  One of the most famous Swedenborgians was Jonathan “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, who distributed church literature while planting trees across the American Midwest.  Info about visiting the Chapel is at: http://www.wayfarerschapel.org/

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Wild Baby Sea Otter Born in Outdoor Tidepool

Holiday e-Card by Monterey Bay Aquarium

Holiday e-Card by Monterey Bay Aquarium

A wild baby sea otter was born in the outdoor tidepool at Monterey Bay Aquarium, California, on December 20, 2015.  The cutest present to the Aquarium ever!  The mother and pup have direct access to the ocean and are free to come and go as they please.  Links and adorable pictures are at:

http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/135606363553/the-squee-heard-round-the-world

http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/135726438723/wild-otter-mom-and-pup-update

The picture above was posted online by the Aquarium on Christmas Day:  http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/135916080178/may-your-holiday-season-be-warm-and-bright-thank

Charles M. Schulz Museum: Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Peanuts

Charlie Brown at Entrance to Schulz Museum

Charlie Brown at Entrance to Schulz Museum

Drawing Studio of Charles “Sparky” Schulz

Drawing Studio of Charles “Sparky” Schulz

Charles Schulz Nursery Wall for Daughter in 1951

Charles Schulz Nursery Wall for Daughter in 1951

Close-up of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on Nursery Wall

Close-up of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on Nursery Wall

Close-up of Tiger on Nursery Wall

Close-up of Tiger on Nursery Wall

22-Foot-Tall Peanuts Tile Mural Composed of Individual Comic Strips

22-Foot-Tall Peanuts Tile Mural Composed of Individual Comic Strips

Snoopy as Safety Mascot for NASA

Snoopy as Safety Mascot for NASA

Snoopy as First Beagle on the Moon

Snoopy as First Beagle on the Moon

Snoopy at Kennedy Space Center

Snoopy at Kennedy Space Center

Snoopy Project Apollo Recovery Team Patch

Snoopy Project Apollo Recovery Team Patch

Snoopy and Woodstock Bench

Snoopy and Woodstock Bench

Snoopy Ice Cream and Cookies Sign

Snoopy Ice Cream and Cookies Sign

Stained Glass Featuring Snoopy

Stained Glass Featuring Snoopy

Poster Featuring Evolution of Snoopy and Charlie Brown

Poster Featuring Evolution of Snoopy and Charlie Brown

Snoopy Dog Lips Painting

Snoopy Dog Lips Painting

Lucy as Mona Lisa Painting

Lucy as Mona Lisa Painting

U.S. Postal Service Peanuts Commemorative Stamps

U.S. Postal Service Peanuts Commemorative Stamps

Snoopy with Authors Pam and Richard Digitized into Peanuts Characters

Snoopy with Authors Pam and Richard Digitized into Peanuts Characters

The Charles M. Schulz Museum is located in Santa Rosa, California (north of San Francisco).  It is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the art of Charles Schulz and the characters of Peanuts.  Displays at the museum include Schulz’ drawing studio, nursery wall, tile mural, and comic strip art (click on pictures for more details – especially the nursery wall and tile mural).  Our favorite Peanuts characters are Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Lucy.  Snoopy is so popular that NASA has used him as a safety mascot since 1969.  The Apollo 10 lunar module was named Snoopy, and the command module was named Charlie Brown.

Every December we watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” television special.  It first aired on December 9, 1965, and half of the country tuned in to watch. The U.S. Postal Service recently issued stamps to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary.  On current exhibit at the museum is a display about the new “Peanuts Movie” that debuted in November 2015.  In conjunction with the movie is the following website that allows you to digitize yourself into Peanuts characters:  http://www.peanutizeme.com/

A wooden sign at the museum sums up our feelings nicely:  “The characters of Peanuts are magically real to us all.  We are captivated by the familiar quirks of their distinct personalities.  As we come to know them, the comics come alive, and we are forever fans.”  More info about the Schulz Museum is at:  http://schulzmuseum.org/

Long Beach, California, Scenery: Real and Fake

Point Fermin Lighthouse

Point Fermin Lighthouse

Point Vicente Lighthouse

Point Vicente Lighthouse

Lions Lighthouse for Sight

Lions Lighthouse for Sight

Lions Lighthouse for Sight at Night

Lions Lighthouse for Sight at Night

Parker Lighthouse Restaurant

Parker Lighthouse Restaurant

Whale Mural on Long Beach Arena

Whale Mural on Long Beach Arena

Fake Oil Island

Fake Oil Island

Oil Island "Condo" Tower to Conceal Rigging

Oil Island “Condo” Tower to Conceal Rigging

We enjoyed our visit to Long Beach, California, in August.  Some of the scenery was real, and some of it wasn’t what it appeared to be.  All of it was fun to see!

The Point Fermin Lighthouse is located 9 miles north of Long Beach.  This Victorian home is one of the oldest lighthouses on the West coast.  It was restored in 2002, and the house and colorful garden are open for tours.  Eight miles north, the Point Vicente Lighthouse sits on a cliff edge on the Pacific Ocean.  This now-automated and functioning light station was built in 1926.

At Long Beach Harbor are two unofficial lighthouses.  The scenic tower of the Lions Lighthouse for Sight is a symbol for fundraising activities for the blind.  It is lit up with colorful floodlights at night.  Another unofficial light sits in a tower at the top of Parker’s Lighthouse Restaurant.   Both functioning lights act as private aids to navigation.

Not to be missed nearby is the whale mural (Wyland Whaling Wall) on the Long Beach Arena.  It stands 10 stories tall, and was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest mural when it was painted in 1992.  The whales on it are life-size.

Long Beach is famously known as one of the top five oil fields in the nation.  Fake “islands” were created there in 1965 to conceal offshore oil drilling rigs and to enhance the natural beauty of the area.  The closest THUMS island (Texaco, Humble, Union, Mobil, and Shell) is located ½ mile offshore.  These unique islands were designed by Disneyland architect Joseph Linesch.  Each one contains fake buildings to conceal oil rigging machinery and real flowing waterfalls to obscure sound.  Each island contains about 300 palm trees and 300 oil wells, and a wealth of marine life surrounds it underwater.  The overall effect is so convincing that visitors regularly ask how they can stay there. The islands were named after the four astronauts who died in a capsule fire on a NASA launch pad in 1968 (Grissom, White, Freeman, and Chaffee).  The islands celebrated their 50th anniversary of operation in October 2015.  You can watch an interesting television show about the islands by Huell Howser of California’s Gold at: https://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/2008/01/10/oil-islands-californias-gold-10002/

Monarchs Avoid Hurricane

Monarchs Clustered on Branch in Winter in California

Monarchs Clustered on Branch in Winter in California

Wintering Monarchs on Eucalyptus Tree

Wintering Monarchs on Eucalyptus Tree

Monarch Metamorphosis Sign

Monarch Metamorphosis Sign

Monarch Caterpillar About to Pupate

Monarch Caterpillar About to Pupate

Stunning Monarch Chrysalis (jade with gold-like line and dots)

Stunning Monarch Chrysalis (jade with gold-like line and dots)

Chrysalis Clears Before Emergence

Chrysalis Clears Before Emergence

Monarch Pumps Fluid into Wings after Emergence

Monarch Pumps Fluid into Wings after Emergence

Beautiful Monarch Butterfly Ready for First Flight

Beautiful Monarch Butterfly Ready for First Flight

Close-up of Monarch Wing

Close-up of Monarch Wing

Scientists have confirmed that the Eastern North America population of Monarch butterflies successfully avoided Hurricane Patricia last week during their migration to Mexico.  The butterflies sensed the wind and humidity of the hurricane, and detoured east to take shelter in mountainous ravines.  The butterflies are healthy and are currently en route to their wintering grounds in the forests of Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (a World Heritage Site).  Monarchs cluster there in the trees to keep warm from October to March.  Monarchs living west of the Rocky Mountains winter along California’s Pacific Coast in isolated colonies from San Francisco south to San Diego.  Monarchs are the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration. You can track news and status maps of Monarch migration at:  https://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/News.html  You can help Monarch butterflies by planting flowers to provide nectar and native milkweed to lay their eggs on.

California: Blue Whales!

Blue Whale Surfacing (click any pictures to enlarge)

Blue Whale Surfacing (click any pictures to enlarge)

Notice Two Small Dark Remora Fish Hanging On Near Blue Whale's Small Dorsal Fin

Notice Two Small Dark Remora Fish Hanging On Near Blue Whale’s Small Dorsal Fin

Blue Whale Blowhole and Back

Blue Whale Blowhole and Back

Close-up of Blue Whale Blowhole for Breathing

Close-up of Blue Whale Blowhole for Breathing

"Footprint" of Smooth Water Left Behind When Blue Whale Dives

“Footprint” of Smooth Water Left Behind When Blue Whale Dives

Hammerhead Shark Fins

Hammerhead Shark Fins

Sea Lions on Dana Point Marina Buoy

Sea Lions on Dana Point Marina Buoy

Red Breasted Merganser

Red Breasted Merganser

Double Crested Cormorant

Double Crested Cormorant

Our Welcome Back Sign

Our Welcome Back Sign

Recently we visited southern California.  We wanted to see blue whales – the largest creature to ever live on Earth!  Blue whales are bigger than the largest dinosaur.  They can reach up to 100 feet long and weigh up to 200 tons.  Their heart is the size of a small car, and their largest blood vessel (the aorta) is large enough for a person to crawl through.  Blue whales eat 2-4 tons of tiny shrimp-like krill per day during feeding season.  They are the loudest animal on the planet – their songs can be heard over 1,000 miles away!  Baby blue whales weigh 2-3 tons at birth, and gain 200 pounds per day for the first year.  Their life span is 80-110 years.  

Blue whales are endangered – only 10,000-25,000 remain.  The California coast in summer has the highest concentration of blue whales in the world.  Best places to see them are the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, and the Farallon Islands off San Francisco.  We went on a whale watching tour with Captain Dave at Dana Point (his Dolphin Safari whale watching tours are the best, and he is a leader in whale rescues).  We were thrilled to see two blue whales!  Awesome!    Included below is a 28-second timelapse video of the Dana Point Marina at Dusk.  A previous post about Captain Dave’s Whale Watching Tours is at:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/southern-california-best-whale-and-dolphin-watching-at-dana-point/

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