A Travellerspoint blog

Kayaking in Redondo Beach

I grew up sailing with my dad on White Rock Lake in Dallas, and I've done white water rafting with my family in Colorado. Today, I charted a new course: I kayaked for the very first time...in California...close to the Pacific Ocean. I had seen a sign advertising kayaking while exploring the International Boardwalk of Redondo Beach's King Harbor, and I thought to myself, "Ooh, I've always wanted to do that!". Well, I came back today, and I told the nice people at the dock that I wanted to kayak.

Of course, they make you sign your life away (and give your driver's license number - why, I do not know) before walking you down the dock and giving you a life jacket. Then, the guide told me just a few simple rules: Don't get too close to the other boats, the rocks and the seals. Makes sense. Oh yes, and do not kayak into the ocean! They showed me a map, and it was easy to see that they basically wanted you to stay within the calmer waters that are protected by a barrier of rocks. You can tell you are in the ocean when you go past the rocks and get swept by the large white caps. I was perfectly happy to stay within the kayak-friendly calmer waters.


When I climbed into the small, lime green kayak, I was surprised that it felt a little bit wobbly. However, I think these little boats are actually quite stable, even difficult to overturn unless you really try. For the first few minutes, I awkwardly tried to find my paddling rhythm. It takes upper body strength - particularly in your shoulders and your wrists - in order to glide across the water with any speed in these little boats.

Once I got past the dock and rowed in a small circle a couple times, I actually started to get the hang of it. I moved slow as a tortoise, but still, I could at least clumsily maneuver the boat in the general direction of where I wanted to go. At one point when I was in the middle of the safe zone, I looked down at the water and saw a brown thing barely surface from the water and then immediately plunge back down. It was a seal, and it was only about 20-30 feet away from my boat! A few minutes later, when I paddled closer to some buoys, I noticed that one of the big, floating objects had a large brown thing on top of it. Again, it was a seal! I watched the buoy from a safe distance as the seal sunbathed and let itself be admired - its head tilted up smiling at the bright sunny sky.


I was one of only 2-3 other kayakers in the water. I actually saw more people who were paddle boarding (basically standing up on a surf board and calmly using one oar to paddle along calm waters). Occasionally, a motorized speed boat would zoom along, and also in the distance, sailboats charted their own course across the waters (even in the ocean, which scares me as someone who only ever has sailed on a lake - an enclosed body of water - in a landlocked major city).

After approximately one hour, I headed back to the dock and then disembarked from the boat. I must admit, kayaking was a neat experience. I'm still biased towards sailing since it is what I grew up doing, and also there is the excitement of making big or subtle changes to your sails to fit the unexpected whims of the wind. That said, I had a lot of fun paddling all on my own in the kayak and being able to take my time in the calm waters to look around and admire the beauty of everything around me...including the occasional seal!

Posted by rachwells 22:03 Comments (1)

Road Trip Day 4: Venice & Santa Monica, We Meet Again!

We arrived in L.A. around 5:00 p.m. on Day 3. Yay, for making it to our destination! And with my car still in one piece! That said, we were very tired after several long (but very fun!) days of driving, and therefore, we really didn't start exploring the area until the next day (after sleeping 12 hours). My friend had never been to L.A. before this trip, and she wanted to go to the beach. So of course, I recommended that we go to...


Oh, Venice Beach. There is nothing quite like it, and that's why I've always loved it so much since the first time I visited it 8 years ago during college. The bohemian vibe, the thrift stores, the independent coffee shops, the street art, the local vendors and performers.


This time, we came across something that I did not remember seeing in the past: an area of beach park where permit-holders can contribute their own street art/graffiti (see photo above). I loved sitting in the sand watching the artists at work.


And of course, the Venice Canals. Somebody has one awesome swan-boat parked in front of their house!


After spending sometime at a local coffee shop and taking a peek inside a thrift store next door, my friend and I went back to our hotel to rest up for a while. That evening, we drove just a little further north to paradise, I mean, Santa Monica.


The city has a beautiful coastline, fun activities on the Pier (such as trapeze, which would love to try sometime), yoga studios (I loved the place I went to on 2nd Avenue a couple years ago), and awesome restaurants & shopping on the 3rd Street Promenade.


Watching the sunset at the western-most edge of the Pier, I looked out to the shimmering Pacific Ocean, and I got the warm, fuzzy feeling that this was the culmination, the reward for three long days of driving to get to this exact spot. I've never done a road trip as huge as this one before, and I feel proud that I successfully completed the 1,500 mile journey.


I got my kicks on Route 66! So what is next for me? I will be spending some time in the South Bay area (hey, not too far from my favorite L.A. hangout spots!), and then after that, we shall see!

Posted by rachwells 20:34 Comments (1)

Road Trip Day 3: Alien Jerky & Calico Ghost Town


Driving southbound on I-15 from Nevada into the California desert, there are some very fun surprises at the side of the road. Located in Baker, California, Alien Fresh Jerky is absolutely awesome. And don't worry, the Galaxy Peace Patrol are parked in front of the building in order to keep watch.


The store itself has different flavors of, um, "alien" jerky and other Roswell-esque novelty items. This is a great place for a photo-op and a break from a long drive through the scorching desert heat. Speaking of desert...


Calico Ghost Town, located just outside of Barstow, California, is very touristy, but also has a wonderful sense of humor about itself. There are wagons, a little school house, old-timey souvenir stores, etc. Again, its touristy, but as you walk along, you do get a sense of what the town, and life in general, would have looked like here in the 1800s.


I really enjoyed the Calico Ghost Town. While exploring the area, I couldn't help wondering something though: How did the original residents live here day-to-day in the 112 degree heat without the modern day convenience of air conditioning? Perhaps a number of them eventually migrated to other towns...or 2 hours westward to the cool, breezy coast near L.A. like my friend and I did. Here are a few more photos of Calico (and P.S., apparently they do offer Ghost Tours at the town, which obviously peaked my attention. Maybe I can wrangle a friend to come back with me someday.):



Posted by rachwells 15:27 Comments (0)

Road Trip Day 2: Continental Divide & Beautiful Desert


Before this trip, I had never driven further west than Santa Fe (with the exception of driving in L.A. once a few years ago). Thus, when we reached the Continental Divide, everything felt a little bit different. I had no idea what to expect while driving this next stretch of road, but I was very pleasantly surprised by all of the natural beauty. Here are some of the highlights driving from Albuquerque into Nevada.




Posted by rachwells 08:21 Comments (1)

Road Trip Day 1: Cadillacs & Cows in Amarillo


Bring a can of spray paint with you while traversing I-40 on the western edge of Amarillo. On the side of the road, you will see Cadillac Ranch, an open field/public art installation where cows and spray painted Cadillacs co-exist in the same space. It's like a Texan version of Stonehenge! The cars are actually securely planted into the earth!


Visitors get to leave their own mark on the space by spray painting the vehicles. I loved admiring all of the colorful designs up-close. Just watch out for the cow pies on the ground! Cadillac Ranch is a great place for a rest stop on a road trip. Why not unleash your inner artist while stretching your legs!

So, what am I doing in west Texas in the first place? Well, I am driving out to Los Angeles (with the help of a friend) to start an exciting new life adventure! We stopped for tonight in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and we will continue westward tomorrow morning.

Posted by rachwells 20:16 Comments (0)

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