Leaving the city behind on a Friday afternoon with my trusty yellow tent and my camera, heading for the coast line, with a huge doze of enthusiasm, I was going to spend the weekend camping along the side of the Pacific Ocean.
After driving in the Santa Monica Mountains roads between its ranches and small tunnels, I reached the Pacific Highway Ocean, where the ocean laid on my left side view for the rest of the journey to Point Mugu.
The drive along the coast line has always been favorable choice of mine even if there was a shorter rout that was away from it. I love the mountains more than the Sea, yet, driving is always more beautiful and romantic along the side of body of water, salt or fresh.
I reached my destination at La Jolla Campsite around 5 p.m. shortly after passing the locally famous restaurant Neptune, a very appropriate name indeed given its location.
It was spring, late Mars, so I had an hour before Sunset, which gave me time to greet the group I was going to spend the weekend with, and set up my tent. To my advantage, there was no marine layer covering the sky. However, few thin clouds were on the horizon which later in the evening, they dimmed some of the planets brightness.
It didn’t take a lot of time to secure my location and my tent. Unlike the mountains where I usually camp in California, there were no bears to worry about. Shortly after, I walked to the beach with few friends, and set up the camera on a rocky surface, and capture few pictures of the famous rock Mugu along the side of the planet Venus, the Pleiades, the bull constellation Taurus, and Orion the hunter.
The haze and humidity of the beach gave the bright stars of the constellations Orion and Canes Major a small halo that made them bigger and rounder to the eye and the camera, which enhanced their color.
The marine layer than rolled over and the temperature dropped significantly, where I had to wear my winter jacket. We went to our campsite around the campfire to seek warmth. Later on I could see Mars peaking through the clouds. I got to see the Big Dipper high above the North Pole star Polaris.
I also got to share all this, and enjoyed explaining it to the other campers around the camp fire. Not all of them knew that I am an Astronomer, and it was a pleasant surprise to them and a pleasant experience to me as always. It seems no matter where I go, there is no lack of interest to the night sky.
The morning after, I woke up at 5 a.m. for an arranged early hike with one of campers that I met yesterday. The marine layer was denser, and covered the sunrise well. The view of the ocean though did not get any less beautiful. The marine layer start to break up after the sun was high in sky.
The day was spent walking between beautiful hills and cliffs of the sea with the sounds of seagulls. The sights along the hike weren’t that alien to me, later on, I knew that the location was used in many Hollywood production movies. So this uncovered the mystery of why the place seems so familiar. I also got to visit Rock Mugu up close in the late afternoon and saw some of the leftover holes made by past rock climbing activity, before the authorities shat down the place for climbers. The rock was surrounded by fishermen both happy and grumpy ones.
Later on, I left my friends to find a good place where I can try to hunt for the green flash at sunset. I picked up my location, and many seagulls were flying around me, on the horizon, and resting along the beach.
There were far away clouds along the distance horizon, so I knew right away that my chances of capturing the green flash are very low. I didn’t capture the green that sunset, but I got many gorgeous sunset shots.
The marine layer that night was very present, so no further observations of the night sky were made. I just enjoyed eating warm S’more around the campfire, in a very cold night. Although I knew what it was, it was the 1st time I actually tried it.
I woke up on Sunday morning at the sound of the rain drops hitting my tent, a beautiful way to wake up. We prepare breakfast on the wet tables of the campsite, and left before noon. It wasn’t the 1st time or the last time I was in this place, but it was the 1st to spend two nights on raw so near the Pacific Ocean. It was a beautiful weekend.
Mars – 23rd to 25th – 2012
Point Mugu, California