The Beach Bucket List: Crescent Bay Beach

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Next up in our beach bucket list is: Crescent Bay Beach!

The thing about Laguna Beach is that there are a zillion little beaches and almost all of them are tucked into tiny little residential neighborhoods that are super keen on keeping everyone out of their beach (it’s a losing battle). That means they are hidden and hard to find and there is never any parking nearby unless you go on a Tuesday in the middle of a rainstorm. Newsflash: it never rains in Southern California. And if it does nobody is going anywhere. It’s mayhem. Watch our local news during a rainstorm. We think rain is the end of the world, there’s no beach going during any kind of weather.

Payam decided not to come with us on this little beach jaunt. He had work to do in his shop. Joon was on vacation with her mom so that meant this beach day was for me and Bug and….Her boyfriend!

I would love nothing more than to write five paragraphs about how I feel about Bug having a boyfriend and my feminist views of teenagers dating juxtaposed against my own sheltered childhood and subsequent train-wreck of a dating life BUT this is not really something I am comfortable with so I’ll just tuck it under a rock for another day maybe twenty years in the future when I am a self-proclaimed parenting expert. Today I am decidedly NOT that expert.

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Let’s talk about Crescent Bay Beach! It’s a crescent! A lovely, little, sandy crescent roll of sunshine. It’s small and it has public restrooms, which is a total bonus for people like me who stress about things like that. The path to get down to it is short (not a thousand steps like other beaches) but there is a giant step at the bottom as if the beach lowered itself a foot or two since the asphalt path was built. This was a bit challenging for me since we brought all the gear for this beach visit: chair, umbrella, aesthetically pleasing picnic basket… Thankfully we had a big strong boyfriend to carry the picnic basket but it was still a bit tricky for me wrangling the chair and stepping down the giant step.

The kids ran off to frolic in the waves and I set up camp. It was pretty warm when we got there at about 2pm in the afternoon so I MacGyvered a sun shield out of our picnic blanket and some nearby stairs. I was quite proud of my building prowess.

Then I set up shop watercoloring! Watercoloring is my favorite thing these days.

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My new paint palettes are so pretty but they are a bit cumbersome because I have three of them. I should just take one with me and leave the other two at home but the colors are so pretty I can’t bare to! My old travel palette is really the way to go because it has all the basic colors that you mix to create the hues you want, while my new palette is pre-mixed in specific colors like: ocean, woodlands and skin tones. So you can see my dilemma: bring one palette of boring colors that mix well or THREE palettes of pretty colors! I packed the max of course and I have eyeballs on other palettes in my amazon prime shopping cart that I’d love to add to my collection. Artist problems. Maybe I should just stay home and paint. Haha! No way Jose! The best thing to do outside is paint! So pack it in I do.

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The kids were kids. They might hold hands and act all grown-up with their romance and their google eyes but they are still kids inside (they were fourteen last year!!) and they still love making sand castles and catching sand crabs. I still love making sand castles and catching sand crabs! Wait, not the sand crabs part. I’ve never loved that.

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Bug brought mason jars and made lemonade for our picnic but when the lemonade was gone, they used their jars to catch sand crabs and pretend they were drinking sea water by tossing it over their shoulder. It warms my heart to see them be silly and still act like kids.

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Even though it was really warm, the water was ice cold. Bug stayed out in the waves so long her legs went numb. To warm herself she wrapped up in our picnic sheet. That tapestry has a thousand uses.

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I tried to take as many golden hour shots as I could. It was a really pretty day.

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Payam decided to join us for dinner on the beach and he even picked up pizza for us. But then he accidentally went down the wrong path (I gave him bad directions and like I said, the neighborhoods try to keep it confusing) and he ended up in Shaw’s Cove which is the beach next to Crescent Bay Beach. On a map they look like they are right next to each other, and they are, but they are divided by steep rocky, muscle infested cliffs and tide pools that are pretty much impossible to traverse at high tide.

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But I didn’t know that so I packed up our gear and the kids and we TRIED to traverse the rocks and gullies to get to Payam. We got about 80% of the way and we could see Shaw’s Cove but we could not get there because there was a 10-foot drop onto sharp muscles below. that was impossible to pass. We tried every way we could, up, down and around but it was just too scary for me with my camera and that blasted chair and my big ol’ bag of art supplies. Finally we turned back. Payam picked us up in the car and we had our cold pizza back at home.

It was worth it though because we really felt like we had a full, complete beach day. Fun in the water, painting for me, lots of photography and even some rock-climbing and exploring! And if I wanted to get technical I could check off Shaw’s Cove on my beach bucket list. But I’m not going to because I want to go back and visit it properly.

The Beach Bucket List: Victoria Beach

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Last week, when I was researching beaches for my photoshoot, I came across a this article listing the top beaches in Laguna Beach. I’d been to many of them but I couldn’t say I know much about them other than random visits back in the 90’s when I was a bikini-babe following Toby around.

I decided it should be my duty to get to know all the local beaches. I mean, I live here, right??! It’s a crime to live here and not be an expert. What if someone came to visit and I didn’t know which street to take to get to this or that beach? What if there was a perfect place to watch the sunset or some little known cave or secret passageway that I could show others as the tour guide to their adventure?! I love adventure. And there is no time like a pandemic to do some outdoor research fun. In fact, it’s pretty much the only thing we can do for fun.

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I wrote down all the beaches on our family wipe-board and informed the family that this was our new bucket list. One by one we’ll knock them off our list and become beach experts. That’s the plan! We’ll see how it goes.

The family was mildly interested.

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The first beach we decided to visit was Victoria Beach. I love this beach. I’ve been to it ages ago and waded in the little cement pool that sits at the base of a pirate tower. Bug even found some old pictures of me:

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Look at me being all Skinny Minnie back then. Can you believe I hated my body back then too? What a complete waste of time.

When we visited this last weekend, the concrete pool was still there but it wasn’t holding water. Maybe it still does when the tide is high. I’ll have to check back and see. When we were there the tide was out but sloshing in and around the many tide pools in the rock outcroppings.

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The water rushesd in and out between little rocky crags. Payam is a true risk taker and took a few leaps from rock to rock while the rest of us decided to avoid danger in favor of a longer but more safe route around these crags. Payam must have been a billy goat in a former life.

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I was so happy to read about the history of the tower that Victoria Beach is known for. I’ve wondered about it forever. It turns out it’s just a spiral staircase that some wealthy person built from their private property estate at the top of the cliff down to the water. It’s not an actual bootlegger passageway, pirate tower or private room for Rapunzel… It’s also locked because it can get filled with water when the tide is high and become dangerous. We rattled the lock and admired the old-timey decoration on the iron gate.  It’s pretty cool to explore around it though and imagine the fun they used to have hiding pirate booty for kids… I’m sure it’s shown up in many whimsical and majestic photoshoots.

What fascinated me the most about Victoria Beach this time was the rocky ledges and the cascading dripping waterfalls.

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It was like Niagara Falls in miniature. Or maybe some other famous waterfall that I don’t know the name of. Anyway, I spent a lot of time trying to photograph these drippy waterfalls.

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Photographing a bright sky and dark rocks with shadows is tricky. It’s like you have to choose to make the sky look great or the murky shadowy parts great and blow out the sky. You can never really get both at the same time. Though I tried. Later with photoshop I cranked up the shadows and down on the highlights to get most of these shots. Right out of my camera they were mostly silhouettes.

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My supreme goal in this beach research project is basically to hunt for the perfect golden hour/sunset shot. It’s kind of like bird-watching or shopping at thrift stores looking for that perfect leather jacket that Brad Pitt in Fight Club. I’m basically a hoarder/collector/hunter-gatherer but instead of hunting for stuff, I hunt for photos. This is a win in my book because I don’t have space for stuff! But photos on the other hand can be collected forever. In face I have so many that I share them here and forget about them! Anyway, I digress.

The thing about beaches at sunset is you never know what you are going to get. Some days seem like they will have the most glorious sunsets ever and the sun sets in an ordinary yellow-white boring sky with very little fanfare. While other days can be dreary and turn into the most amazing jaw-dropping displays of oranges, pinks and purples that seem so bright you can’t even believe they are real. You just have to wait and see what you get. I suppose some weather forecasters and photographers have figured out the geometry and necessary cloud placement for a good golden hour sunset but it’s beyond me. To me it’s just a fun gamble.

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While Payam and I settled in for a nice wait for the sun to do it’s thing as it lowered, the kids scrambled around on the rocks, played in the water and explored.

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Some of us thought that sixty degrees was plenty warm enough to wear a bathing suit.  Fashion before comfort, and all that. I can’t really bag on Bug and her swimwear too much though because after you got used to the chill of the water, it was actually quite warm and invigorating. My blood is thin though and I like to stay clothed.

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The sun came and went and golden hour was captured. It wasn’t anything crazy but it was still beautiful and hit all my golden hour necessities.

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We came, we saw, we took photos of the sunset.

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It was yellow and white with a few dramatic effects when the sun went behind some clouds and turned the frothy waves into golden pools.

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Until next time! I wonder what beach will be next.