January 23, 2011

The Farmer In Waddell

Good morning and greetings, North Coast fans. It was a true delight walking on West Cliff last week, as the swell was big and the light outstanding. When the mornings and my mind are clear, the colors and waves are, in the word of a fellow westside traveler, “just exhilarating.” The sun’s reflection on the cliffs creates a shiny, dark-gold, turkish taffyish look. Colors like this reinforce me of how I’m lucky to be on the edge of the continent instead of in an office at eight a.m.. As the Duck and Cover boys say, “you never forget your first cubicle.”

So what shall I bless my captive audience with this week? My textile-loving friend Kristal suggested a while back that I do a culinary blog, informing my cyber guests of the vodoo that I do each week in the kitchen. I told her that I don’t think people will be all that fascinated hearing about my adventures with beef stroganoff, eggplant parmesan, or my savory and succulent chicken that falls off the bone faster than Charlie Sheen did off the wagon.

I know I’m only human, and even though I’m 99% vegan, every once in a while I succumb to the lure of a chocolate bar. I just happen to be a vegan who loves a good baby back rib. What people might be interested in is the inordinate amount of cranberry sauce I consume during the year, but that’s just for religious purposes.

Let’s just say when I buy my Ocean Spray around Thanksgiving time, I don’t purchase by the can, I haul it away by the flat, 24 Cannes at a shot. It’s a jellied film festival of cranberry delight all-year round with no sugar added. Along with Mott’s applesauce, in the words of the Doobie Brothers, when it comes to my consumption, “what were once vices are now habits.”

Now as fascinating as this is, let’s move on to today’s photo vortex. Waddell Creek Beach is 20 miles north of Santa Cruz up Highway 1. It is known worldwide for its steady, strong northwest winds and good surf. Although I don’t surf, kite surf, free dive, free bird, water ski, jet ski, skim board, boogie board or even take my jacket off, what I always love about this place is the collection of birds scattered along the beach.

This area is home to 250 species of birds. This is a spot where the pelicans stop to clean their wings in the creek and go for a spa treatment. I never know what I’m going to find when journeying up the North Coast and Waddell comes into sight. Rest assured I am rarely disappointed, which is more than I can say about being rejected at feeding time by my own mother soon after birth. In the words of the great Rodney Dangerfield, she said she just liked me as a friend.

So let me give you a little history of this glorious swatch of coastline. Charo and Spanish sea expeditions visited the Waddell Valley as early as 1543. In 1769, Antonio Banderas and the Portola expedition discovered the redwoods. They had been exploring on the coast of California, and first spotted the redwoods or “Palo Colorados” along with a Baja Express about forty miles south of Big Basin. The Spaniards declared them to be the “thickest, tallest, and straightest trees they had ever seen since Pau Gasol and his brother Marc hit the NBA.”

They camped at the mouth of the present-day Waddell Creek. Many members of the expedition were ill and dying of malnutrition when they first arrived in the valley. However, the berries, wild game and the Jamba Juice quickly restored their health, inspiring them to name it “La Canada de Salud” (The Valley of Health), which is no relation to the Valley of the Dolls.

A number of farming families and wind surfers settled in the lower part of the Valley in the early 1800s. In the mid 1860s, William Waddell conducted an extensive timber harvesting operation in the area. The lumber was used extensively in the post gold-rush building boom of Chinese restaurants and Starbucks in San Francisco.

On October 1, 1875, Waddell was hunting deer on the land above his homestead. At that time, California’s coastal mountain ranges were still home to many bears and packers, and as Waddell started up a ravine, he was attacked by a large Grizzly and severely mauled. He lived just long enough to tell the story to his closest friends and family and then died five days later. His timber operations were soon discontinued because the family’s pain was too much to bear.

So the first two shots give an overview to the beauty of this wind-swept wonderland. I photographed the next set from the same spot on my way down the coast in December. The gulls were dominating the action on this gray day. You can see the mouth of Waddell Creek flowing into the Pacific in photo #4. We finish with some reflection action on a gorgeous fall afternoon, as these gulls just wanted to have fun.

This is the spot I headed for when I took my first digital camera on a test drive back in 2005. I snapped about 75 shots in five minutes without film hesitation and thought, yeah, this will work. There was a pretty sunset that night and the rest is film free history. The beautiful thing is, little did I know then and now I know even less.

Let’s head to the late night. “We had a national tragedy this week, and the President of the United States and Sarah Palin both made speeches on the same day. Obama came out against lunatics with guns, she gave the rebuttal.” –Bill Maher “President Obama says he’ll go to the Super Bowl if the Chicago Bears are playing in it. Sarah Palin says she’ll go to the Super Bowl if actual bears are playing in it.” –Jimmy Fallon “The debate over repealing healthcare began in the House today. The Republicans have their own plan: “Don’t ask, don’t get sick.”–Jay Leno

“President Hu Jintao from China is visiting the United States. Ahead of the big state dinner, President Obama went to Hu’s hotel and slipped a menu under the door. If President Hu likes what he sees, he may put down a deposit. There was a big dinner for the President. General Tso brought his famous chicken.” –David Letterman

“Chinese President Hu Jintao made his first official state visit to the Unites States. Vice President Joe Biden has been asked not to do his “Hu’s on first” routine.”–Jimmy Kimmel “There was a really awkward moment when the Chinese president met President Obama’s daughters and asked them, “So what factories do you kids work at?”–Jay Leno “New Speaker of the House John Boehner chose not to attend the dinner for Chinese President Hu. In China, they’re calling him an orange chicken.” –Jimmy Fallon

“According to TMZ, Charlie Sheen was partying in Las Vegas again on Monday. But to be fair, everybody celebrates the legacy of Dr. King differently. Congratulations to the new Miss America, 17-year-old Teresa Scanlan. You can tell she’s still a teenager by her talent — texting while driving.”–Jay Leno ” Despite cutting half of the city’s police force, the mayor of Camden, New Jersey, says the city’s crime statistics will not be affected. When asked how that’s possible, he cited the new law that makes stabbing a misdemeanor.–Conan O’Brien

So that’s our NFL playoff report. There are many beautiful beaches north of Santa Cruz, and we’ll be doing more cyber sightseeing as the year flows along. So enjoy the clear skies, the warm January weather and we’ll catch you in the right flat. Aloha, mahalo and later, Blake Griffin fans.


  1. Another fine collection of photos, facts and funnies. There is nothing quite like a freshly opened can of cranberry sauce with the light reflecting off the sheen of the can imprint – maybe it will be worthy of a blog photo someday. And don’t you think it’s time to forgive your mother for that old transgression – after all, she had only just met you…

    Comment by Mike Tomlin — January 24, 2011 @ 8:49 am

  2. After our lovely wedding in Happy Valley in Santa Cruz, we dragged our wedding photographer up to Waddell Creek (or was it Scott Creek? Who can remember with all the anticipation of our wedding night festivities just hours away?). Got some beautiful shots and a few birds posed over us in V formation. Maybe you can shoot our 20th anniversary in 2012 for secondhoneymoonsantacruz.com.

    Comment by Larry Bird — January 25, 2011 @ 11:16 am

  3. The pics are beautiful, the humor…..well what can I say…….Enjoyed it all. And I agree with Mike about forgiving your mother!

    Comment by Brenda Payne — January 26, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  4. Thank for the mention of Samantha Gilbert’s big day.
    To celebrate she is having 25 girls spend the night on Saturday.
    Remember the “how many college guys can they fit in a phone booth?”
    It will be interesting to see if they can find enough floor/bed space to actually sleep.
    But at 15, I’m sure sleep is overrated.

    Comment by Wendi — February 7, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

  5. I know im late on this but im watching jersey shore season 1 and its awsum

    Comment by Howard Gonzelez — April 15, 2011 @ 11:20 am

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