When Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo arrived in what is now San Diego Bay back in 1542 he called the place "A Very Good Enclosed Port."  Glad that name didn't stick, what a mouthful that would be! His ship continued up the coast somewhere into Oregon but Cabrillo died along the way.... As the first European (Spanish) explorer to the coast of California he was a pretty big deal and the tip of Point Loma became the Cabrillo National Monument. 

Unaware of the historical significance of the point, I was drawn by the promise of beautiful views of city and ocean, as well as the nearby tidal pools.    

Now I had read on Yelp that these Tidal pools had recieved a 4.5 out of 5 stars so I had pretty high expectations.... bright colors, sea stars, anemones  maybe even some fish??  Hmmm no, not quite... more like different shades of gravel.  But the holes were nicely eroded away. See this is the problem when you have expectations - it becomes so easy for things to fall short.  Much better to have no expectations and always be pleasantly surprised.   

After spending a couple hours exploring the limestone cliffs and enjoying the views, I headed to Mission Beach.  This is the type of beach I love - with sand stretching as far as you can see (or according to wikipedia - about 2 miles).  And the nice type of sand - not the Vancouver kind that is really very small rocks waiting to lodge themselves into your sole.  

A good spot to sit, create sand sculptures, listen to random people play the guitar and people watch - why are kids always digging holes? 

A couple of other highlights of the day... and by highlights, I mean food of course: 
- Delicious cappuccino and mocha chocolate muffin at Reds 
- Tried a California Burrito: french fries, steak and cheddar cheese, as well as a Carne Asada burrito: steak, guac and... salsa fresca
- And was made yummy tacos for dinner by James at the hostel - great place to stay by the way:  R K Hostel 

My mom was over to visit me about a week ago, and she gave me a book called Secret Beaches of Greater Victoria (by Theo Dombrowski), and I have decided to start exploring my way through the book.  I live practically surrounded by water, so why not really get to know my area, know the beaches that are good for dogs, for BBQs, for frisbee, for beachcombing, etc.  

Stop number one was D'arcy Lane (Beach #46 of 92) which caught my attention with the headline "A huge flight of stairs down a cliff face to the quiet of Cordova Bay and its mixed shore of rock and sand."  Sounded lovely.  

Well I was a little surprised by what I found.  In fact, I had to laugh as my first attempt to seek out a secret beach led me to.... the water.  At the end of this magnificent set of stairs, there was nothing but ocean.  No beach to speak of.  Perhaps the book should have mentioned how important tides were?
But the views were lovely - looking out at islands - D'arcy Island, the namesake of both the beach and lane being one of them.  The coolest thing for me was this one small rock - the lone area on the horizon where the sun was shining - just covered in white birds.  Probably sea gulls, but it was too far away to be certain.  

Back at lane, there was a plot of undeveloped land - and I went to explore, hoping to find another set of stairs down to a perhaps existent beach.  Instead, I found a blackberry bush - completely untouched.  Some berries were so ripe and ready that they fell off at the touch.  I wish I had brought a bucket with me, these berries were so delicious!!  I ate to the point I thought I might make myself ill, and then tore myself away.  What a treat!!

Disappointed by my lack of beach finding, on the drive home, I followed the signs to Arbutus Cove (which actually turned out to be beach #50 in the book).  And this stop delivered!  At the end of another set of long stairs through the woods, I was awarded with a lovely long pebbly beach - with excellent climbing rocks on one end. I would have loved to have spent more time here, climbing on the rocks and seeing how far I could walk the shoreline.  It is an area I will be going back to.  

Although the beach was lovely, my favorite thing about Arbutus Cove were the trees - and the namesake of the beach.  The Arbutus trees are phenomenal!!! So huge and majestic... such a beautiful tree. :)  

Vancouver doesn't get hot often, but when it does, it is my favorite place to be.  The past weekend was for me, what summer in Vancouver is all about. 

Friday I did the Grind with my mom, and was so hot and sweaty after I headed straight down to the ocean to cool off.  There aren't many other places - none that I can think of - that you can climb a mountain then within minutes be in the ocean!  I was waiting to meet up with some friends in the evening, so I set myself up on the one of the many grassy fields at Ambleside Park and enjoyed my book (Plain Truth - Jodi Picoult, a good one).    There is nothing so relaxing as lying in the shade reading a book... just missing a big glass of ice tea... but I suppose a camel back is close enough.  A few chapters later it was time to head to my friends house.   We played Bocce ball in her backyard - this is basically a formal ("adult") version of the kid's game throwing rocks at things  - which pretty much everyone has done at least once in their lives.  During this rousing game, we realized there was a great tree in her yard that I had failed to climb despite having lived their for a year and visited often - this is very abnormal for me, as I love to find a good climbing tree.... so anyways checked that one off my list. 

In the evening we got Indian takeout and headed back down to Ambleside for a picnic.  To work-off our meal, we went for a stroll along the beach... to TCBY, my favorite frozen yogurt shop.  I love this place, and not just because I worked there for almost two years, and it feels a bit like home - but also because the yogurt is absolutely delicious!! 

We topped off our night at our friends house playing an XBOX dancing game, that I swear is more of a workout than doing the grind!! 

Saturday morning, Diana and I hit the grind again - and somehow it was even hotter today.  It was absolutely packed full of people - so many that at some points I felt like I was just waiting in a queue rather than going for a hike.  A bit silly.   We of course headed back to the beach after for another swim, and later met up with some more friends.  We took over one of the playing fields in the park and had a 3 on 3 ultimate game - ultimate is kinda like football, but with a frisbee, and no tackling - you just try to complete a pass behind the opponent's goal lines without running with the frisbee... that's the essence of it anyway.  And to top off our day we ordered pizza and sat around in the sun playing Catchphrase.  

To me, these two days sum up Vancouver in the summer - beautiful mountains, crowded beaches, good food, and great friends.