Island Bound!

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This trip seems to be all about extremes and remoteness.    Channel Islands National Park is a group of islands located off the coast of Los Angeles.  A visit here gives one a glimpse of what the California coast looked like before it was overpopulated with humanity.  You can find vegetation and wild life here that doesn’t exist anywhere else.  The signature element of the park however is the rocky cliffs along the waters edge and the marine life.  The park required a one hour boat ride to reach it.  We visited the island of Santa Cruz.


Channel Island National Park Sign Picture


Scott and the kids greatly enjoyed the boat ride.



In fact, I think the kids liked it just as much as the island itself.  I prefer my feet on solid ground.  I tolerated the ride and am thankful I didn’t get sea sick.  While the kids were enjoying the splashing of waves at the bow of the ship, I stayed put in the back, my eyes ever fixed on the mountain range off in the distance.


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There was a special passenger on board the boat that morning.  A group of marine biologists were escorting a California sea lion out to the islands with hopes of rehabilitating him.  We got to watch him jump out to sea as we approached the harbor.  The kids thought it was really cool (cause it was).




Once we arrived in Scorpion Harbor, we had to board skiff boats to reach the beach (which the kids also thought was cool). 


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Our main activity on the island was a hike to Potato Harbor.  During the hike we got see two island fox.  These fox were once endangered and only live on the island.  Also, they have no predators on the island.  There are now a total of 29 fox on all of the channel islands.  Their population has increased since the time that the islands became a national park. 


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Our hike began in a valley.




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Even though it was brown, I found its vastness to be quite beautiful.  I know people come to the island for the ocean, but the primitive landscape of the interior was striking in its own right.






If your going on a hike for clifftop ocean views and you begin in a valley, you can expect to climb. 




However, the view at the top was worth it.

 Potato Harbor Overlook




We refueled with lunch and then Scott took turns walking the kids out to the overlook.  While eating our lunch we could hear sea lions whelping down below.



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We walked the entire way back along the cliff coastline.  It was beautiful and a bit scary, but the kids were all good about staying on the right side of the trail.


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While waiting for our turn to board the skiff boats we played at the beach and were treated with a visit by a sea lion.  He swam so close to shore, he was right in front of the kids, as if to say hello.  It was quite exciting. 


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The ride back was smoother since we were going with the wind rather than fighting against it.  We were hoping to see some marine life on our ride back.  My 8 year old and I sat on the bottom deck while the other three went up top with Scott.  IMG_9726Scott was able to see a blow hole of a whale, though he didn’t see the whale.  He also spotted some dolphins but the kids didn’t see them.  Someone told them that they like to play in the wake of the boat, and once my 10 year old heard that she spent the rest of the ride staring behind hoping to see her favorite animal.


When we reached land and debriefed on our ride, she was crushed to hear that she missed the dolphins that her sister and I saw out the window below.  I felt so bad for her b/c I knew how much she wanted to see some.  We did console her with the fact that dolphins, while incredibly cool, aren’t super rare to see and that chances are good she will see them one day at a beach. 


Still, we all enjoyed our day at Channel Islands National Park.  We finished the day back at our campground, with a pizza dinner on the beach.


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