Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Thank you to the 4 Texans (Dallas) we sat with on our boat ride back from Santa Cruz Island yesterday for bringing all of us good luck!

Stunning! The Harbor is shaped like a potato.

Another National Park scratched off our map! I told Pat this park might top my all time favorite, Acadia. Pat said not for him. Why? No trees. According to him National Parks should have trees, lol.

We left Ventura Harbor Mon. on the 9 a.m. ferry with Island Packers, a National Park Concessionaire. Santa Cruz Island is the largest of 5 islands in Channel Islands National Park. It is also California's largest island. I was surprised to learn that the National Park Service only manages 24% of the island while The Nature Conservancy manages 74%.  

Santa Cruz has been populated for over 9,000 years. The American Native Chumash tribe had several villages on the island, later there were ranchers. It was established as a National Park in 1980 and includes a 6 miles marine sanctuary. Five endemic species can only be found in the Channel Islands including the Spotted Skunk, Island Paintbrush, Torrey Pine and the Island Fox. The Island Scrub Jay is only found on Santa Cruz Island itself, no where else in the world

You can also get to the island by private boat. There is camping, hiking snorkeling, and sea kayaking. Back in November we secured tickets and selected Scorpion Anchorage from the two landing spots on this island. On our trip to Santa Cruz Island we saw sea lions and stopped 3 times for the crew to remove mylar balloons, marine life killers, from the ocean.

Returning from the island we not only met the nicest 2 couples from Texas, but according to them, the luckiest! Enjoyed their company. On their 9:30 a.m. trip to Santa Cruz Island they saw sea lions, dolphins and more than one kind of whale (but no mylar balloons😀). A little sad we had only seen the sea lions that morning but we've seen them before so really no big deal...

...or so I thought! We could watch the boat moving on a map on a screen inside the boat.  Seemed we were going a little out of our way.  The boat stopped and the Texans jumped up, taking me with them to the rails, to see what the captain called a pod of dolphins. NOTHING like I have ever seen before.  Not 10, 20 or 100 dolphins, but HUNDREDS, maybe a 1,000, on all sides of the boat, jumping and showing off. 

We also stopped and saw a whale spouting (humpback I think) and saw his tail as he dove, a sunfish, and rescued several more mylar balloons. Sunfish can weigh anywhere around 250 to 2,300 pounds, have no tail, and are flat. This one was considered small,  but it looked big to me.

We had food, water (Santa Cruz did have water at the campgrounds), extra layers, a light rain coat, and other supplies. Our 8 to 10 lb. packs are the beginning preparation for an overnight backpacking night in Aug. The layers were needed, with the highs only in the upper 50's and cloudy most of the day.  This was a carry-in, carry-out park. We chose to hike to Potato Harbor, on to Cavern Point, and then back to Scorpion Ancorage to wait for our 4:00 ferry back to the mainland. Lots of pretty flowers and plants, some unique. Scenery was unbelievable!

Ventura Harbor

Arrival at Scorpion Anchorage.

Looks like we'll be going up. 

Eucalyptus tree

One of the backpacking tent areas.

This raven was near Potato Harbor. Pat was the only one of us to see an Island Fox, although they are plentiful. The Ranger warned us that the fox and ravens had both learned to unzip bags.

Everyone appeared to be having lunch at Potato Harbor.

With this view we joined them!

We went down and had to go back up to get to Cavern Point.

Headed down to Scorpion Anchorage.

Waiting on the beach for our boat.

Even in the 50's there were swimmers.

As the boat sped up the Dolphins like to ride the waves near the sides. The gentleman beside me said he went surfing on a wave with two Dolphins once.

What a great day. As usual we met the nicest people, some local, Ohio, Texas, etc. I really wanted to see the Island Scrub Jay, only found on this one island and no where else in the world, however, it was populous on the other side of the island not where we were. No tickets available for that tour during our stay so we'll just have to come back. We were looking forward to a local fish dinner too but we were both so exhausted we went back to the motor home and settled in for the night. 
Where are the Piepers now? Ventura County, CA


  1. Okay, first comment from Theresa and john. Dolphins are just the best. just like a bunch of children entertaining the old people. We have seen numerous pods on the intercoastal in florida. Lucky you.Stay safe and have fun Theresa.

    1. Yep, you got the comment there! The Dolphins were definitely entertaining. Overall it was a super day. Today we have chores and tomorrow we go to Sequoia.

  2. Enjoyed meeting you -- so glad our luck was shared with other on the return trip from the island. Enjoy your travels.

    1. Hope the right team won the day after our boat trip! Maybe we'll cross paths again .