A Different Mood in Dana Point, CA

An unusually quiet harbor on a foggy day
An unusually quiet harbor on a foggy day

After receiving an email recently from someone I follow, I felt compelled to dust off a post that I have had sitting around for some time and present you with a “blast from the past”, Dana Point in a different light.

I doubt you will see any travel advertisements portraying this beachside city in the gray light of a foggy day but sometimes our travel plans present us with one of Mother Nature’s less than sunny moods, and this day was one of those. I decided to go with the flow and for me there has always been something very soothing about being near the ocean when the fog has laid down a quieting blanket of white, muffling all but the pounding surf and squawking shorebirds.

Shorebirds gone wild!
Shorebirds gone wild!

Dana Point, sitting halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles, covers a total area of roughly 30 miles, 7 of those being land and 23 being water.  All things revolving around water draw visitors to this beachside resort city:  romantic walks on beautiful sandy beaches, tide pools teaming with all sorts of fascinating ocean creatures, deep-sea fishing adventures, some of the best surfing around, and a beautiful harbor housing two marinas, 2500 boats, and 30 boutique shops.

Silently a sailboat slips into the harbor
Silently a sailboat slips into the harbor

On the land side, 23 beautifully manicured parks dot the city, many with views of the ocean and a three-mile public trail system that link together all those contained within the headlands.

Ocean Institute
Ocean Institute

This city boasts the title of “Whale Capital of the West” because of the many types of whales that use this point as a navigational landmark for their migrations north and south.  I decided to head to the Ocean Institute that sits in the harbor to see what I could learn.

The Ocean Institute, founded in 1977, is a non-profit dedicated to ocean awareness and preservation. It serves 135,000 students annually and is open to the public on the weekends.  It is a blending of museum, small aquarium, and ocean classroom labs, with interactive stations and holding tanks of indigenous ocean species spread throughout its buildings.

An octopus, moving from one tank to another, awaiting feeding
An octopus, moving from one tank to another, awaiting feeding

You can watch the feeding of an octopus, dissect a squid, examine sea life under a microscope, or educate yourself on the life cycle of a jellyfish.  Step outside and tour The Pilgrim, a replica of a hide brig, or hop on a charter boat for a whale-watching adventure.

The Pilgrim
The Pilgrim

While fixating on the jellyfish tanks I saw someone who looked vaguely familiar but, having his back to me, I wasn’t sure.  Does this young man resemble someone you may know?

Mystery man
Mystery man

Click here to learn the identity of this mystery man.  Did you guess correctly? Come on, be honest. 😉

Actually, this was a planned meeting and this young blogger has the same warm, playful spirit that shines through in his posts, not to mention the wicked good photographs he takes!  One of the first posts of his that I read was one in which he took a road trip and brought along his mother, grandmother, and uncle.  He reeled me in after that and I have followed him ever since (not stalking, mind you!). Lucky me to have the chance to spend a few hours with the infamous Rommel of The Sophomore Slump. 🙂

Little ray of sunshine on a rainy day
Little ray of sunshine on a rainy day

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