I have written about my love of the sea. I’ve written about how important it is to my soul and my over all well being. My banner shows pictures of the sea. So it should be no surprise that a recent vacation was spent in a house 20 feet from the ocean’s edge. Or zero feet when the tide was in, that’s how close I was!! It was the best vacation that I’ve had other than my trip to Italy. I spent a total of 15 days in Faria Beach, CA over 2 trips. The first was in January and the second in September of 2017. Faria Beach is about 10 minutes north of Ventura and 20 minutes south of Santa Barbara. It is a small, gated, beach community of 300 people. It was quite simply, Paradise.
I have wanted to stay in a house at the beach for a long time. When I say at the beach, my idea seems to be very different than that of many property owners. I spent about a month looking up and down the coast of California for a house or condo on the beach. Many of them said that they were ‘a short 3 blocks from the beach’, or showed photos of the property and a glimpse of the beach from an upstairs window. How is that ‘beach property’? What I had in mind was ON THE BEACH! I could open the door and would step out onto the beach. Or at the very least there would be a deck of some kind, or patio and I’d walk a few feet to the beach. Certainly, if I had $1000.00 a nite to spend, I could find many places fitting the bill of what I had in mind. I do not however, have anything close to that kind of money to spend!
I had found a nice, small condo of just 4 units in Ocean Beach, CA in Sunset Cliffs, and put down my deposit. I usually try to stay in 2 different cities if time allows. I looked up the entire coast of California as well as Oregon! I just wasn’t finding something that fit the bill for what I had in mind, or that I could afford. I was just about to give up and book just the Ocean Beach property for my entire stay when I did one final last ditched search on Trip Advisor.
Imagine my shock and surprise when up popped a beautiful home that was very reasonably priced. I quickly read all the reviews, looked at all the pictures, read the property description very carefully, looked at it on Google Earth, checked the availability and thought, ‘there must be a catch. This is too good to be true!’ The home was gorgeous. The location was exactly what I’d had in mind. I quickly contacted the owner making sure the dates were available, they were, and I made my down payment. I couldn’t believe my good fortune!
However, 6 days before I was to leave I took a bad fall breaking my wrist and cutting open my head. You can read about that here Freaky Saturday Night. After getting a cast put on, talking with the doctor and realizing I couldn’t do much of anything with my left hand, I immediately contacted both of the property owners who could not have been any more understanding and nice about what had happened to me. I explained that I still wanted to visit, but it would be at a later date. I had insurance for Ocean Beach so there was no issue there. I did not however for Faria Beach. The owner told me not to worry, she would hold the funds and we’d work out new dates when the time was right. Again, I could not believe my good fortune since she in no way had to do that. Over the course of the next 2 months, I would talk with her several times and I felt as if we had become friends. I hoped that I would get to meet her when I stayed.
The dates that I was able to get away, were not available for the property in Ocean Beach so I spent all 9 days in Faria Beach. I had never been to California in the Winter and really didn’t know what to expect for weather. When I landed in Santa Barbara on December 30th, it was indeed cloudy, threatening rain and 57 degrees.
I missed my turn for the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) because I was too busy looking at the ocean and went right by my exit-LOL. Each time I returned from Santa Barbara, driving down the 101, as I came around a curve approaching Rincon Beach this view would make me gasp (this was taken on a sunny day). You can see why;
I arrived at the house, walked around to the back and my jaw dropped…the house is indeed right at the ocean’s edge! I am in heaven!!! I don’t care that it is cloudy, cool and misting I cannot even believe my good fortune. The sliding door on the deck was open I stepped in to the sound of a vacuum cleaner. From around the corner stepped a woman with a big smile and I asked, ‘DeLayne?’ she said, no, she was Candy, DeLayne’s sister.
DeLayne had told me about her sister living across the street and that she’d be able to assist me in any way if I needed anything while I was there. Candy and I chatted for a bit about the small community that is Faria Beach, the Channel Islands (that can be seen from the deck) how to use the different codes to access different areas of the beach, where to get fresh seafood and she gave me her digits for the local Von’s Grocery store so I could get the discounts. She was so nice and hospitable and I was very much at ease with her and we would end up talking quite a bit over the next 9 days. I told her while she finished what she needed to do, since I’d arrived early, I was going to go to the grocery store.
Upon my return the tide was completely out, revealing a smooth beach area with many rocks beyond. The sun was trying to poke its head out as well. A young man went out with his stand up paddle board and soon another joined him. It is a private beach with spectacular views, I couldn’t wait to see it with the sun shining. But that would have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. Travel days are always long days. I puttered around the house, putting my things away – this house, just WOW. It really is spectacular inside and out. Let’s take a look:
The Master Bedroom and attached Master Bath – it was glorious!!!
There is radiant heat in the floors throughout the house as well as instant on hot water. Both of these were a welcome treat in January with the tile floors! Lots of recessed lighting in every room while each switch included a dimmer allowing for infinite choices . The bed in the Master had a light over each side, of course with a dimmer. Now that is attention to detail. Below is the living area and 2nd bedroom that also included bunk beds (not shown in my photo). There is also a 2nd full bathroom off of the 2nd bedroom.
The kitchen is a chef’s dream. All of the appliances are high end. Wonderful prep space complete with 2nd sink and a wine fridge 🙂 The island includes a small sink. The microwave is a commercial size and is also a convection oven. There are 2 dishwashers. The stove top is very large, is gas along with a center grill. I used the oven once, it preheated to 425° within minutes, I have no idea how it did that so quickly.
I awoke on New Year’s Eve to the sounds of the waves crashing against the seawall outside the house. The bedroom is at the opposite end of the house, so you can imagine the force of the water for me to hear it that far away. The first bits of daylight were just beginning to peek through at 6:45. It was quite dreary outside and cold. I made myself some espresso after my shower and sat down in my favorite chair and just watched. I spotted some dolphins feeding not far from the house. How cool that they are so close to the house! Usually just a fin can be seen, but every now and then, they would arc, breaking the surface but they never fully came out of the water, no jumping like on TV. When they would find a good spot for feeding, I could watch a group of 4 – 5 as they circle an area about 20 feet in diameter, faster and faster churning up the fish below. I was of course, memorized and sat for quite some time just watching as different groups would come.
I eventually tore myself away and headed for Ventura Harbor. It was raining very steadily now. I stopped at Wild Local Seafood. The young man behind the counter was so animated and obviously loved his job. He wanted to know what I’d be doing for New Years Eve, where I was from, how long was I staying.. just so friendly. He told me how the owner insisted that they knew about every fish they sold as well as how to prepare it. He explained that everything is locally caught some as close as the bay right outside. I bought about a pound of (head on) Spot Prawns and a 1-1/4 pound Dungeness Crab. He told me how to cook it, and how to clean it. The prawns? with heads still on? Hmmm… what had I gotten myself into with my 2 choices? Well, I like to experience new things when I am on vacation, and I make a point of eating something new each trip right? While I’ve had Dungeness crab and Prawns, I have never cooked and/or cleaned either myself.
I dropped off my catch at home and went back to the grocery store in Ventura with a list this time. On my way back home, I stopped at my favorite place in Ventura for tacos; Taqueria Vallarta. The sun was beginning to come out on my way back and I quickly poured a glass of wine and took my tacos out to the deck. A little later I attempted to do some journaling, but well, that didn’t go very well. It is way too easy to just sit and enjoy the ocean and become memorized by the waves.
I awoke New Years Day to bright sunshine and 54 ° and it looked to be a perfect day. I quickly made my way to the deck. My body just sank – in a good way! an ‘Ahhh…..’ kind of sinking, a total relaxation kind of sink. It was just gorgeous. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I started my Espresso brewing, quickly showered, grabbed a muffin and my coffee cup and sat on the deck watching the waves come rolling in. I don’t know how it could get any better other than being able to do this on a daily basis. How to describe how I feel? So peaceful. So joyful. So comfortable. So thankful. So relaxed. So tranquil. So alive! I find it hard to concentrate as my mind keeps drifting, the ocean drawing me in with each wave.
The view on the left is to the South heading towards Ventura. (Highway 101 and the PCH run along those hills. It is from there that I took the 2 photos you see a little further down the page.) The view on the right is towards the Channel Islands in the distance.
This is my favorite spot to sit on those rainy cold days. Naturally I sat outside whenever possible.
Since the tide was out this was a good chance for me to walk down along the beach. On my way out of the house I met Bridgette, Candy’s daughter. She was just as nice as Candy and we talked for a bit before she showed me where to access the beach and the code to use to open the gate. Some of the homes have stairs down to the beach but this house did not. Sure, you could climb down the huge rocks, but um, me? Nope, not gonna happen! (During my stay a young may from next door did climb up and down the rocks with his surfboard in hand! He made it look as easy as could be.) I met a few people on my walk that were there for the weekend, in their ‘weekend homes’. Must be nice!
Taking advantage of the beautiful weather I drove down to Santa Barbara after checking to see if the County Courthouse would be open, surprisingly, it was! I went up the Clock Tower to take photos because when I was here many years ago, it was a cloudy day. I love the County Courthouse, it is just beautiful inside and out. Those of you who watched the TV program, ‘Psych’ may recognize the exterior as the Police Station. The inside is awash with color, beautiful tiles and floors, not to mention the staircase. I can spend hours, which I did, just walking around inside.
From Santa Barbara I went into Ventura for lunch at Beach House Fish on the Ventura Pier. I had the Fish n’ Chips in a Beer and Honey coating that was delicious!! Sitting above the pier, staring at the ocean while eating just makes everything taste better. The pier at 1958 feet was originally built in 1872 making it one of the oldest wooden piers. It was rebuilt in 1996, the new length is 1620 feet.
Coming back from Ventura on the PCH, How can you not take pictures?!?
A glass of wine as the sun begins to go down for the day. I began my journey into having a glass of wine a day while I was here. Although at home, it is no where near as relaxing or enjoyable as it is sitting by the ocean! I am by no means a connoisseur nor do I know all the ins and outs. I only know what I like and dislike and I do not spend a lot of money on any bottle. I started using Heartwood & Oak Wine Merchants and have been very happy with what they have been sending me. I am and always will be, a novice at wine drinking.
Later I watched the Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions for the NFC North Championship!!!! Yay Green Bay!! Now it really was a perfect ending to a perfect day!
Perhaps the coolest part of the whole vacation was the day the birds arrived. Now, I’m not talking a few here and there. I’m talking feeling like I was in a National Geographic special on TV. It was simply incredible!! From a distance, the ocean looked as though someone had dumped something into the ocean. It certainly was littered with something that was for sure. That ‘something’, turned out to be Pelicans. California Brown Pelicans by the hundreds. It was just fascinating to watch.
The importance of the Channel Islands National Park for conservation of wildlife is exemplified in its relationship to the California brown pelican. This seabird was classified as federally endangered in 1970 and as endangered by the state of California in 1971, but was delisted as a federally listed species in 2009. The only breeding colonies of California brown pelicans in the western United States are within Channel Islands National Park on West Anacapa and Santa Barbara islands. The preservation of this essential habitat along with the monitoring of this species is critical for the continued health of the California brown pelican population.
The brown pelican is the only pelican that is a plunge diver. The brown pelican is a unique feeder that makes impressive dives from ten to thirty above the surface. They are, however, able to dive from as high as one hundred feet
Today, the pelican population on West Anacapa Island averages about 4,600 nesting pairs annually and on Santa Barbara Island the average is about 1,500 nesting pairs.
I watched for hours as flock after flock would swoop in and land on the water. I loved watching them dive, I could hear them hit the water they were so close to the house. It was kind of funny too, seeing their butts sticking up out of the water before righting themselves. The young man that ventured out in his kayak had an incredible viewpoint. Even more beautiful to watch was; as a flock would approach from the left, they would go from a ‘V’ formation to a single line and literally glide, what appeared to be inches, from the waters surface, then back up again. I can’t use videos in my blog, so I can only post some photos. Mind you, this is just a small section of the ocean surface shown, imagine that this is literally across the entire span of my view. It truly was a sight to see. This continued for 3 more days before tapering off in numbers.
Along with the Pelicans came shore birds and of course seagulls.
Another highlight of my visit in January, was meeting fellow Blogger and lover of all things Italy, Victoria! We met for coffee at the Garden Market in Carpinteria. It was a short visit and we promised to make it a longer one the next time. It was very cool to meet her since I’d had a few conversations with her via email and messenger. I’d also read, and used, her book, Victoria’s Travel Tipz Italian Style. So awesome to be able to come together as a result of social media. I do hope we can meet up another time for some wine – seems when I am in Santa Barbara, CA, she is in Italy 🙂
My days were never long enough while I was here despite the weather not really cooperating since it was after all, January. I had planned on going on a whale watch tour because the thought of seeing migrating blue whales was very exciting. I have been in awe of whales since a tour in Gloucester, MA many years ago. However, the day I was to go, it was raining and the high was only going to be in the low 50’s. I had not brought warm enough clothes for that. Island Packers was kind enough to give me a refund. I decided about half way through my vacation that I simply had to come back here when it was warm. I wasn’t home a week and already scheduled another stay for September.
I came to find out that the tides are entirely different at a different time of year. To be honest, I don’t understand the tides. But, like everything else that has to do with the sea, they fascinate me. In January, when the tide was out, it was at very different times than in September. I could take a walk on the beach in the morning as well as at sundown in January. In September, the only way to walk on the beach in the morning would have been way before the sun came up. The next opportunity was around 2:00 but by the time the sun began to go down, the tide was nearly back in. If you recall, there is no beach at high tide. This meant that getting the dramatic shots at sunset from the beach from just above the water, would not be an option in September. Or the ‘moonscapes’ as I like to call them.
Moonscapes…looks like the moon doesn’t it? It was beautiful nonetheless
Sea Walls revealed when the tide goes out. All the large boulders and stairs will be almost completely covered when it comes back in. You need to pay attention to the tides or you just might end up swimming home! Overnight is when the water can be almost right to the tops of these decks.
The weather while I was here in September could not have been better. High’s in the mid 70’s with sunny skies every day. My afternoons were spent investigating the Tide Pools. I really wanted to find a Star Fish, but since I am not very steady I cannot venture very far into the pools. My taking a fall among all the rocks would not be a good thing! I never found one, but the Sea Anemones were abundant and you don’t have to get in very far. They became my daily routine – photographing them. I touched a few, very carefully, they are quite soft and they will close around your finger. Again, they are part of the sea and anything that is a part of the sea is absolutely fascinating to me. I think I missed my calling; I should have been a Marine Biologist!
When the tide went out large boulders such as this were uncovered revealing the multitude of sea life clinging to them.
Let me introduce you to my new friend – Limpy. If you look, you’ll see his right leg is shorter than the left. I didn’t notice this until DeLayne pointed it out to me. He has been visiting the house every day, for a few years she said. A family member aptly named him ‘Limpy’. Occasionally he gets fed, which of course, you should not do! I admit, I did throw him some of my muffin one day because I am a sucker for any animal and I felt sorry for him on this particular day. He stood with his bad leg held up under his body so I figured he was hurting. He stood like that, on one leg for hours. He was there every day and usually brought his lady friend. How do I know she was a lady? I don’t, but for my story, she was his lady friend. Both of them were quite territorial. Should another Gull land on the break wall? very loud squawking, wing flapping and chasing would begin. This was their wall!
All too soon the time came that I had to move on from what truly has become my favorite place to be in the US, tied with Boston. I could not be more comfortable here and I notice such a change in my whole being. I am so relaxed and content. True, being by the ocean makes me feel this way, and I do visit other areas where I am at the ocean. There is just something about this house maybe? The neighborhood? Candy being so friendly that it makes me feel like I ‘live’ there? I guess it is just a combination of all of it. All I know is that it has been extremely difficult for me to leave here both times. Talk about melancholy and depressed the day before! I found myself looking forward to my next visit before I’ve even left. It truly is Paradise for me. I sincerely hope that I will be able to visit many more times.