Sunday, July 8, 2012

Less Than Zero: An Adventure Story

The moon was full.
It rose over the water and settled determinedly in front of the beach house like a glowing reminder.
(Stinson Beach, Northern California. July 3rd, 2012. 
All photos by LBG.)

Not that we needed one.
Our alarms were already set for 5:15 am.
(Why? Excellent question.)

Early the next morning we were going on a very special expedition, one that could only be done a handful of times a year. Thanks to a rare "minus tide" (one significantly lower than average), for an hour or so we would be able to explore caves, rock formations and miles of coastline usually hidden beneath the watery deep. Our friends who had done it before gave us an explicit directive.

"Wear clothes that can get wet." 

* * * * *
We were on the beach by 5:45 am. The sun was still behind the mountains but the ocean suffused the sky with an otherworldly shade of blue.

(Can you tell how freezing it was from this picture? Mark Twain got it right when he said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.")

On the shoreline, the waves had been pulled back like the sheet on a bed.

Things looked deceptively ordinary. From far away we thought this was just a big rock. 

Oh how wrong we were. Up close we discovered a magical neighborhood filled with a variety of life aquatic.

This little guy was even waiting with a friendly salute.
(Did you know starfish were so plump and robust? I didn't.)

And who knew sea anemones looked exactly like those drink coasters made from geodes?

There were a few tricky spots that required trust and a willingness to wade. 

What goes out must come back in. The water was rising. It was time to turn back.

We were just talking about how peaceful it was when we were privileged with a rare sighting.

A strange Yeti-like creature emerged from behind the rocks, crossed in front of us and disappeared into the ocean. 
(Undoctored photos of San Franciscus Hippius Nudicus.)

After that, everything paled in comparison.


Pamma said...

Thank you Lisa for the lovely photos! Love that big rock with colorful creatures.

Jessica Thor-Miller said...

Incredible - and what a prized sighting. It will undoubtedly stay with you for years!


Lily said...

Now that is what magical summers are made of... Sleepy, shivery expeditions that turn into a treasure hunt of storybook finds, racing against the tide.
And all because of the whims of the moon & the sun & the spinning of the earth.
Thanks for taking us along! Love those photos of the starfish & anemones!

Chic Delights said...

Wow, so beautiful and magical indeed! Those sea creatures are amazing and most especially your last sighting was priceless. :)

Anonymous said...

That's hysterical ! Hippius Nudicus...brilliant. Another wonderful post....

JudyMac said...

What a fab sighting! And to think you have it all on camera is even better--proof positive.

Rachelle said...

How absolutely gorgeous. During my two years in SF, my very favorite walk was the Dipsea Trail. I loved relaxing on at the beach after the long hike. But, I've never seen Stinson Beach the way you've shown it here. The rock and the sealife is a colorful and interesting as anything you'd see snorkling or scuba-ing. And the light - it's otherwordly. Oh, I'm longing to go back now!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Who knew rocks could resemble Gaudi buildings?

ArchitectDesign™ said...

so much wild-life, thats pretty amazing (the nudist is just hilarious)

WendyMcLeodMacKnight said...

Oh too funny! My husband and his buddy recently camped off the coast of New Brunswick and buddy had only recently gotten new glasses. A man of a similar genus was walking into the waves in the distance and buddy said "my goodness, that is a brave woman!" My husband is still killing himself laughing at that one! Beautiful pictures!

Leslie Harris said...

Ha. So glad you refrained from close-ups at the end.
What fun!
Leslie (aka Gwen Moss blog)

debbie bailey said...

What an adventure! I'd love to be able to see those sea creatures that are only visible at that special tide. I'd skip the last creature though. I can see that every day!

helen tilston said...

Hello Lisa

This day will be forever remembered.
Nature at it's finest
Thank you for sharing


kim at northerncalstyle. said...

Love that you were up here. Stinson Beach is gorgeous. What a fun idea to explore at low tide. Can't believe that guy...He's some kind of crazy man with the cold beach weather...and a typical SF oddball!

Great post.


kim at northerncalstyle. said...

Love that you were up here. Stinson Beach is gorgeous. What a fun idea to explore at low tide. Can't believe that guy...He's some kind of crazy man with the cold beach weather...and a typical SF oddball!

Great post.


pve design said...

Oh Lisa, The places you go and the things you see....
long live crustaceans, cirripedia and barnacles everywhere!

Anonymous said...

Love starfish, and you saw some amazing ones. Beautiful colors and so expressive. Lovely post.

Emily said...

The Hippius Nudicus is one you can now add to your world traveler sightings list!

24 Corners said...

Loved the plump starfish and the magical sea creature rock...the colors are amazing!
I hear we have a furrier version of your 'Yeti-like' creature here in the Northwest...very thankful I haven't run into him yet!
Thank you for sharing another of your fantastical adventures Lisa,
Lucca is a very lucky boy!
xo J~

carol : @perennial said...

I love this post. We recently discovered that rockpools could give us literal hours of fun. And as for your final sighting - bloody fantastic! That is the stuff of family legend.

Unknown said...

How dreamy! I grew up in Oregon and I always loved low-tide. How great to adventure out in San Francisco! Lovely photos!

Unknown said...

Love the photos. The nature and all the environment. It makes me remember a brand that takes these natural details as an inspiration:

noreen said...

now, as a montessori teacher, the anemones and echinoderms are more my thing, but that yeti-like creature IS fascinating! what temperature was the water? surely he had a wet suit or towel nearby?

yesterday i bought some starfish in a market in nassau. it was sad to see them dead in a basket, instead of plump and moving like yours. joy to you, n

Miss Cavendish said...

Glorious. And a fine juxtaposition of black-and-white history (previous post) with a rock teeming with vibrant group of sea creatures.

Unknown said...

Rare sights indeed. Made me smile. Thank you!

Maryl said...

I almost felt like I was there on the beach with you. Does anyone else think that the sea anemones formed a face and it was winking at us?

somepinkflowers said...

you have the best sense of humor
in the world!

{{ we have a similar
'Yeti-like' creature
my beach house as well.
can it not be
some Handsome Young Thing?
i have no idea... }}

The Fish Monger's Daughter said...

i love Stinson! we live in napa and go there for summer beach days!

shari said...

Lisa ~
Just reading this post even tho its oldish... I adore the Stinson Beach area. Have been staying at the Steep Ravine cabins for 25 yrs. Have never gotten over to the natural spa. So funny that u had that sighting!! If this is the place u call home - u are extremely blessed!


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