Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Walking the Bay's Edge with Sandy Lydon and Gary Griggs

Who would have thought that it was actually possible to walk the length of Monterey Bay on the beach?

It's a novel idea and something that many adventurous walkers from this area have attempted on their own.  But it's also possible to combine a day (actually three days...) of fresh air and exercise with spectacular scenery, the camaraderie of a collegial group, and the expert knowledge of historian Sandy Lydon and coastal geologist/oceanographer Gary Griggs. It's called the "Bay Walk" and it has become an annual event that is truly an unforgettable experience.

Gary is fond of saying that he covers the first 200 million years of the region, while Sandy covers the last 200. Both Gary and Sandy are sought after for speaking engagements in their respective fields, as Gary has a gift for making science accessible (and inanimate rocks and drifting sand seem stimulating) while Sandy, well Sandy just makes history come alive. Together, they have a unique partnership, and it works really well.

Walking the Edge
Carmel Bay, California
The walk starts at New Brighton State Beach and ends at the Monterey Breakwater, just before Fisherman's Wharf. Over three days (three successive Saturdays) you walk an average of ten miles a day and and learn about tectonic plates, littoral drift, sea walls, Portola and the Missions of the the central coast, Japanese American abalone divers, and "By-the-Sea" developments of the 1920's.  You visit the World War II installations at old Camp McQuaide and discuss the significance of Mulligan's Hill at the Salinas River mouth.  Along the way you'll pass by the Dynergy Power Plant in Moss Landing that converts natural gas to electricity, the old Kaiser refractories where magnesium was extracted from seawater, and where Calera - "green cement for a blue planet" now runs a test facility that makes cement from sea water. Closer to Monterey, you pass by the Lapiz Sand plant - an operation that should have been shut down years ago, if only the public agencies that have jurisdiction over it could get through their own bureaucratic red tape. All in all, it's a three day experience that few of us could find on our own, even though it's right in our own backyard.

The photographs below were taken on Bay Walk 3 which took place in May 2011. While there are many opportunities to photograph signature views of the region - like the cement (concrete) ship and the sweeping panoramas of the Bay - I like to focus on the images most people overlook...close-ups of ordinary elements...unusual patterns...the juxtaposition of dissimilar objects and textures....the unexpected image that warms your heart and makes time stop.

Waves of Sand with Towers Looming Overhead
Give me Shelter
Follow the Leader
Boy and His Dog
Bounty of the Sea (with a light dusting of salt)
Skeletal Ice Plant
Message in the Sand
Sea on Sand
The air and exercise are what your body needs, the knowledge stimulates your brain, and sharing the rigors of the three day journey and its beautiful vistas with your fellow walkers is just great for your soul. You can find more information about the details of Bay Walk 3 on Sandy's website, along with many other walks that Sandy regularly schedules. Gary also wrote about the Bay Walk in two of his regular Sentinel columns last year: August 14, 2010 and August 28, 2010.

Other adventures that Sandy and Gary have undertaken together include: The Carmel Bay Hike, the North Coast Hike, the Hollister and San Andreas Hike, the 17-Mile-Drive Hike, and the Point Lobos Hike, just to name a few. I've been fortunate enough to be able to tag along on almost all of them and I could post a blog entry on each one, as they are all so memorable.  I always come away with a deeper understanding of the region and a renewed appreciation of the place I call home...and of course, hundreds of photographs.  You should try it sometime!

Several of these photographs are included in a desk calendar called The Bay's Edge, which you can find at my etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/listing/82127349/2012-desk-calendar-the-bays-edge. All of the images posted here are also available for purchase as 8x10 and 5x7 fine art prints and A2 size greeting cards (all printed on archival water color paper) at http://DigitalYak.etsy.com/. Be sure to send me a message if there is something you'd like that you don't see listed, or if you'd like a custom size or item, as I truly enjoy creating one of a kind items that hold special meaning. Thanks!!

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