September 17th, 2006

4,000 Words (plus a few dozen more for good measure)

Here’s a brief rundown of neat stuff I learned while jaunting about Santa Cruz Island.


  • It’s the biggest island off the coast of California. If that doesn’t sound like such a big deal, that’s probably because you haven’t seen it. It’s huge. And it feels huge.
  • Along with the other Channel Islands, Santa Cruz is considered part of the Santa Monica Mountain Range. They all popped up from the ocean floor when a couple of tectonic plates got a little aggressive. (The Santa Monicas are also the only east-west mountain range in the country. Go figure.)
  • There are no longer feral pigs on Santa Cruz Island, as they have been eradicated. Or bumped off. Depending on whether you are more of a euphemistic or dysphemistic person.
  • California does too have a history! (Okay, I knew this one already. But you really can’t be reminded too often.) And there are remains of it on these islands. (Let’s not forget that Scott O’Dell’s fine novel Island of the Blue Dolphins is based on the true story of a Native American woman who got stranded on San Nicolas Island, a little farther north than Santa Cruz Island.) Yesterday was a monumental day for me: I stood on top of a midden (read: archaeologically thrilling ancient garbage heap) and could see with my own four eyes the sparkle of shells peeled from the Chumash’s fishing hauls.
  • I can survive a day on minimum caffeine. And be perfectly fine! Although once I got stuck in traffic (and I mean stuck. It took less than two hours to get to the harbor—more than three to get back home) and the endorphins had worn off from my intrepid hiking, I crashed big-time. Sigh.

See what I mean??? Huge! (Them's kayakers in the water.)

An uncharacteristically green spot. 

Ah, rocks. That's more like it. 

As sealions barked in the distance, I hiked down a path to cliff's edge to snap this photo--and did not fall to my certain death. I know--I was impressed too.