September is a great time to be alive and place kicking on the central coast. Temperature wise it’s the warmest month of the year and days like the last few with warm summer breezes give Santa Cruz its well-deserved reputation of a paradise by the sea with cold water. There’s something magical about living on the edge of the continent . Or as the quote by a now deceased local resident on a bench along West Cliff Drive reads, “I live by the sea. Enough said.”
These first four shots are from a fabulous sunrise at Lighthouse Point from back in November of 2005. This was an outstanding morning to be an American League fan with a camera. The last two photos were shot at sunset at Natural Bridge State Beach. Reflections on an afternoon spent riding the waves in the blue Pacific. Or as my friend Carol puts it, “End of a perfect day at NB’s.”
You may have sometime wondered. Just who was it that discovered this watery piece of real estate? Magellen, Cortez, Dick Clark? Actually, it was Vasco de Nunez de Balboa, who while in Panana in 1513 was told by the Indians of a sea on the other side of the Isthmus. On September 1, Balboa set out to discover this great sea, taking with him 190 Spanish soldiers, a pack of dogs and 1,000 Indian slaves. It took 25 days to wade thru the dense jungles of Panama before they came upon the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. What an incredible moment that must have been. Clad in full armor, Balboa waded into the water and claimed the sea and the all the shores on which it washed the property of the King of Spain. For his efforts, Balboa, one of the greatest explorers of the new world, was later condemned as a traitor and charged with treason and condemned to death by a governor jealous of his successes. He met his death by the executioner’s axe. Shouldn’t someone have given him a head’s up on that? And by the way, it was the Portuguese explorer Magellen, not Balboa, who bestowed the ocean its name “Pacifica,” meaning peaceful because the waters seemed so calm.
So now you’re probably wondering, if Rocky Balboa discovered the Pacific, who was it that discovered California? I’m glad you inquired. The honor goes to Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo, who scoped it out upon his arrival in San Diego Bay for a Chargers-Raiders game in 1542. Spain wanted him to find an easier route to the Pacific rather than the long loop around South America. They were hoping to find a route thru the American continent via an alleged northwest passage called the Strait of Anian. So as Cabrillo sailed up and down the coast of California, every time he saw a big river, he wondered if he had found the passage. He claimed California for the Spanish crown and as all explorers were required to do when they encountered a new group of Indians, read them an explanation called a “requerimiento”. It was an act of taking possession of the land and was read in Spanish, Latin and Yiddish, none of which the Indians understood. It basically ordered the Indians to submit their land to Spain because of religious justification ordered by the pope. Ah, to be young again and a conquistador.
And finally, for our first blog of the new month, birthday wishes go out to the wild west legend Jesse James, who following the civil war, formed a group of outlaws with his brother Frank that robbed banks, trains and stagecoaches. In 1882, after the governor of Missouri offered a $10,000 reward for their capture dead or alive, a member of the gang shot Jesse in the back of the head and claimed the reward. You just don’t see that kind of loyalty any more. So on that note enjoy the day and the colors in the sky. In the words of The Happenings and their #1 hit from the summer of 1966, “See you in September.”