Vandenberg Surf Beach and the Snowy Plover. No dogs allowed!

I have really slowed my posting during the last month or so. I’d love to be able to share more frequently, but perhaps  you have also noticed there are only 24 hours in a day? I’m full to brimming over with plenty that vies for my time.

The work-fun balance is sometimes wobbly, but I’ve made no secret that what  keeps me on an even keel is spending time outdoors. I was gratified the other day when Karina, almost five, walked out the backdoor, announcing to no one in particular, “I’m going outside to find some nature.”

My heart sang!

I’m still intending to come back to post a few highlights and stories associated with families from three of the wineries we visited in Santa Barbara County. I’m very impressed with what I’m learning, and I’m eager to pass along some of my enthusiasm.


But  as we head into a weekend, I thought you might simply enjoy some photos from the same wine country region, but with a different perspective.


We visited Surf Beach in February, and just in time! From March through September the beach has many restrictions related to the Western Snowy Plover and its nesting habitat Zena is certainly considered an unwelcome intruder.

Surf Beach is very near Vandenberg Air Force Base, a Department of Defense space and missile testing base just about 10 miles northwest of Lompoc, California. It was irresistible to us on a beautiful late-winter day.


Surf Beach is the closest public access to the coast for Lompoc residents and also receives two trains a day. It’s a beautiful stretch of the coastline, and while we were willing to get our toes wet, Zena went surfing.

I’m glad I didn’t know at the time about two shark attacks, both resulting in fatalities, one in 2010 and again in 2012. Great Whites migrate up and down the West Coast from islands off the coast of San Francisco to warm waters off the coast of Mexico. Two surfers died while surfing at Surf Beach.

Less than 100 miles from Surf Beach the largest shark recorded off the North American coast weighed in at 4,745 pounds. Zena didn’t know this information. I may not tell her.

I hope to return to this spot again, but for now we won’t  disturb the Snowy Plovers. Vandenberg’s beaches are important to the stability of the Plover population, which is currently marked at 246 adult plovers on this particular stretch of coastline.

Since we can’t visit again until September, just sit back and enjoy the photos and move into a breathelighter weekend. I hope it includes some outdoor time.

Give yourself time for a big exhale, and I’ll be waiting to hear how you choose to recharge your batteries. Enjoy!

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69 thoughts on “Vandenberg Surf Beach and the Snowy Plover. No dogs allowed!

  1. virginiahildreth

    Yes, I was wondering where you were… but then, I know your “life” load and figured you had a few hundred other balls to keep in the air! Love, love, love the pics!! Have a deep breath for me… & I’ll have one for you!
    p.s. FIVE weeks to go!… the count down begins in ernest.

  2. Loved this post, Debra! Watching/seeing Zena romping and splashing in the waves is a delight! Same with the children “getting a dose of nature.”

    Please keep posting at the rate that suits YOU! No pressures. Pressure doesn’t make the journey lighter.

    1. I am thoroughly delighted when I see the dog OR the children enjoying the great outdoors. It’s my pleasure to keep giving them more and more opportunities to get out and explore, although sometimes I think they lead me! 🙂 I don’t feel too pressured to stick with a particular blogging schedule, but I really do feel like I miss out when I’m behind. I want to make time for everything. LOL! I’m not always the most reasonable person. LOL!

  3. XOXO. Here’s to the weekend. I’ll be hiking Stanley Park, with MTM by my side. I haven’t seen him much since we got back together, so I’m really looking forward to that BIG exhale.

    1. I am sure you’ve really missed that time with MTM, so it must feel so “whole” to be back together again. I hope your hike is just wonderful. I’ve grown accustomed to looking at your photos, so maybe you will keep sharing them? Enjoy your exhale. You really deserve that “down” time! 🙂 ox

  4. Aaah, that’s better! Those are gorgeous photos of the coastline. Breathing in that fresh sea air would be nice, and running barefoot across that sandy beach too. Thanks for sharing Debra, and have a great weekend!

    1. I’m looking forward to a very nice weekend, with not much that pulls at me! I hope you, too, have some freedom in your schedule. And I’m glad you enjoyed the photos from Surf Beach, Cathy. To us it’s a new piece of coastline, and I hope to return– when the birds are through with their nesting season, of course! 🙂

    1. I am always more at peace when I’ve had some contact with the ocean, and if I can get my toes wet, I’m thrilled! I am delighted I can share a little Pacific Ocean with you, my friend. I hope you have some time to relax this weekend. Even just a little. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you, too, found Karina’s statement significant, DK. She is such a funny little girl, but she is quite sincere in noticing her surroundings and seems to fully appreciate beauty wherever she finds it. I trust this will only grow over time! And I’m here to help her! I hope you have a lovely weekend–and hope it’s warming up just a bit! 🙂

  5. Karina has the right idea. Nature will be my post for the letter N, coming up in the A to Z. I believe our appreciation for nature begins at an early age. Unless, you are Zena, of course, then you are just part of it and sharks be damned. What joy to see her run.

    1. I know you share in my joy at seeing Zena just frolic with such abandon. Our dogs really do give us good lessons on how to be content and happy! And Karina really has a love of the beauty of outdoors. She so often notices detail that I miss, and I’m really paying attention! I think it’s going to be fun for me to continue to maybe guide this interest as much as possible. I’ll look forward to your “N” post, Inger! 🙂

  6. yes, I am with Karina … I was out with the 4 yr old yesterday playing at the beach … gorgeous photos of Zena, and I love the giant kelp! Happy weekend Debra 🙂

    1. I also definitely feel aligned with our sweet Karina. We talk a lot about appreciating natural beauty and the outdoors, and it just warmed my heart to hear her express that interest. She says things quite often that let me know she is already very in tune with nature. When she was somewhere between two and three she referred to every small hill as “the mountains” and seemed quite happy pointing them out to me. I knew then I had a little soulmate! 🙂 I am sure you enjoyed your beach day with your own little four-year old! There is a natural freedom at the beach. For goodness sake, I even see it in the dog. LOL! Have a great weekend, my friend.

  7. I love beaches with nesting sites. We had worked with a park ranger to help establish an annual Piping Plover nesting site on a Sandy Hook beach a few years ago, and it’s so thrilling to see them coming back year after year. The area is completely fenced off and there are large signs telling people to stay out of the fenced area (there’s plenty more beach area to walk on) and that dogs aren’t permitted on the beach during nesting season, yet they always find crushed eggs and disturbed nests from uncaring people who walk through it anyway. Go figure.

    1. I just stopped to look up Piping Plovers. What a beautiful bird! I know what you mean about thoughtless, unconscious people not respecting the nesting sites. I was reading about this particular Surf Beach and apparently they’ve experienced similar issues. It’s hard to understand why anyone wouldn’t care, quite frankly, but then we know better than that, don’t we! We just keep trying, I suppose. How wonderful that you’ve had a hand in working so closely with protecting your beautiful plovers. I really admire that commitment! 🙂

    1. Zena is so playful and a very gentle dog. I really loved watching her play in the ocean. She thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven’t had too many opportunities to share this with her, but I think soon we’re going to try one of the off-leash dog beaches in Long Beach. If that turns out to be a good one for her, then we can go often! 🙂

      1. It blows when you have to adjust because of all the dog restrictions. I know some campgrounds, hike trails, and other beaches don’t allow them.
        Dog beach comes in mind when it comes to leash-free beach, but that’s in San Diego though.

  8. I can feel the joy of that little one on the beach, Debbie 🙂 I like my open spaces too and when Summer gets here the laptop takes a back seat. If you work all week it’s ‘no contest’ when it comes to your weekend. Freedom wins! Enjoy it 🙂 The photos are wonderful. I love that carpet of Livingstone daisies.

    1. Thank you for filling in some knowledge, Jo. I didn’t know the flowers were called Livingstone daisies. They carpet all of our beaches and tend to be lumped into the category of “ice plant,” a non-native species (Carpobrotus) that is almost as common as weeds–just a lot prettier. I love it when I can add to my knowledge about plants, so I’m glad to have something much nicer to call these beautiful plants. Ice Plant doesn’t do them justice! 🙂

      1. They carpet the Eastern Algarve beaches too, Debbie, usually only flowering in Spring. I’m not sure if this is their formal name but I’ve always known them as that. I love them 🙂

    1. It’s so nice to share with you, knowing you are familiar with the area, Nancy! I keep thinking of how much we enjoyed that beach and I hope I can return before too long. You’ll need to find a beach before too long, also. 🙂

  9. My kids and I invented a game just for that drive, called “Cow Ocean Bell.” We try to find one single spot where we can see cows, a mission bell historical marker, and the ocean all at the same time. We only found one spot: in Gaviota, just before the highway turns north into the hills. Such a gorgeous area.

    1. I think I know just about where that would be! What a creative game, Janine. And it is so beautiful. It’s kind of frustrating to be so close yet often too busy to get up there. I need to remedy that. 🙂 Are you on “baby alert” yet? 🙂

  10. I noticed you weren’t posting as frequently but you were ever-faithful with your comments on your blog and I always love and appreciate hearing from you. We’ve had another fatal shark attack here in Australia. This time a 4-metre shark. I think the attacks are becoming more frequent because their food source is being heavily farmed. Dreadful! xx

  11. That’s why I don’t go into the water, plus it’s too cold for my Mediterranean blood. Katrina’s comment made me smile! Enjoy your time in nature with your family.

  12. It is hard sometimes maintaining the work/home/personal balance isn’t it? Good for you slowing down a bit too. I suspect with the nicer weather now I will want to be more outdoors that in front of the computer! Your photographs are fabulous! I so enjoy reading and learning the story and/or information behind them. I have not see the ocean for quite some time. It just looks so fresh and vibrant.

    1. I’m glad you stopped by to see a little of the California coast, Thea. I have really enjoyed sharing this part of the state. I do hope I can find just a little more time to spend on-line and blogging soon. Cutting back is voluntary, but I really want to be able to do it all. Hahaha! I respect my limits, but I argue with them first. 🙂

  13. You’re so fortunate to have the ocean so close to home, there’s nothing that is more relaxing than the sound of the tide. Your photos are beautiful, my favorite, of course, is the beautiful Zena romping in the water. Could a shark get in that close to shoreline? I shudder at the thought!! We’ve had a fairly quiet weekend here, cold wind on Saturday and a bit better today so we took our dog for a longer walk than usual. It’s been a terrible winter.. I’m longing for some ocean!! xx

    1. The ocean really is my favorite place to go when I really want to relax. I assume the surfers who were killed by sharks were probably further out than we would let Zena swim, but I don’t actually know! I know your winter has been terrible and unrelenting, Smidge! I honestly think there will be able to hear a huge collective sigh when we know that spring is finally here for good! And then you are going to drink in the outdoors! I hope to hear that sigh soon! 🙂

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the Santa Barbara County coastal photos, Meg. As you can see, I keep returning to the photos from this last visit to the wine country. We found so many reasons why we would like to return! 🙂

    1. I’m glad you were able to catch the photos of Zena playing in the water, Otto. I had so much fun watching her. And like most people with a camera these days…I took entirely too many. I was just so thrilled to see her having such fun! 🙂

  14. Those plovers sure know a thing or two about real estate. What a beautiful area! I don’t know how I’d react to learning about a shark attack at a beach that I had just visited or was about to do so. I understand that these attacks are exceedingly rare but I don’t need to know about them anymore than I’d read “A Night to Remember” before leaving on a cruise. I wouldn’t even watch “Gilligan’s Island”! Is Zena like Max? He gets excited when he picks up the scent of the Lake. Does she react to a salty breeze? She sure does like romping in the surf and I love to watch dogs at play in the water.

    1. Yes, Zena gets so excited when we just get near the water, and she actually starts to lope like a deer. She becomes so playful! I tell myself that the poor unfortunate surfers were probably out in the water much further than we would expect Zena to swim, but it is still a little unsettling. I don’t think this particular beach will be our point of return, or at least not too often. You are so right–the plovers grabbed the very best real estate, and from September to March, when we would have access, the weather would be catch as catch can. We’ll have to think about that return, but it really was a beautiful spot. I hope the weather warms for you soon, John, so Max can take you to the lake! 🙂

  15. Beautiful slide show and great to learn about this, Debra. My wife and have visited California twice and we love it, and I’m finding out so much more from reading your blog posts… we will have to return to explore more. Thank you.

  16. My heart sings as well. Yea, Karina! A kindred spirit already.
    Well, Debra, you already know how my batteries were recharged this past weekend – and now, I’m trying to catch up, especially since 24 hours aren’t enough for me these days. Sigh.
    These are fabulous photos. I can almost hear the surf. The plover population is endangered then, isn’t it? Such low numbers. It is good to know they are being protected there. A wonderful post, Debra.

    1. I’m just glad I could share a little surf, and surf dog, with you, Penny! Yes, the limits of time, 24 hours each day, do make it really important for us to make the most of each one, and when it is possible to have time with little ones AND outdoors, well then perfect! I’m glad you had a moment to stop by, my friend. 🙂

  17. Pingback: I Came. I Saw. I READ. | The Accidental Cootchie Mama

  18. I know all about life being too busy for blogging, Debra, and have even managed to be late commenting here. Lovely photos and watching your slideshow slowed and calmed me down beautifully, ready for bedtime. 🙂

    1. I honestly think that considering we are all very busy with our families and other interests, we do pretty well! I’m just always glad to see you when you find a way to stop by. And I’m very pleased that you enjoyed the visit! Thank you, Perpetua.

    1. Marcella, Vandenberg is basically just outside of Lompoc, which is in Santa Barbara County–maybe about 50 miles north of the city of Santa Barbara. It’s all really very beautiful up that way! 🙂 Occasionally we can see trails from the rockets that are launched from Vandenberg, but I’ve only seen land marked Vandenberg AFB, and never the base itself. I think it’s rather tucked away! 🙂

      1. Of course, Santa Barbara. I’ve seen you mention it on your blog. It’s a bit harder to keep track of things being online at the library but I’m adjusting to it and I like it! You see trails from the rockets?! Wow! That is incredible! I flip when I see the jumbo jets leaving the airport near where I live. They sometimes go up almost like a rocket. I never get tired of it! You’re blowing my mind girl! Rocket trails! I’ll keep that thought with me all day! Maybe all week!

  19. It’s great to read about conservation in action Debra. The UK has its own issues of species in decline or threatened. In my lifetime the Kentish Plover has ceased to be a British breeding bird although it still visits these shores and that is just one example.

    1. I think even with the greatest conservation efforts birds everywhere are in danger. There is urbanization everywhere, or so it seems, and the places they once found to breed or simply live, are in jeopardy. I am always so encouraged when there is a real effort to preserve habitats, but I also know of some California bird populations that are in definite decline. I am impressed with those who put real muscle, time and attention into protecting our birds…and I particularly love shore birds. 🙂

  20. Great pix of a great day at the beach! I’m conflicted about the Great Whites. I’m not a surfer, but I do enjoy an ocean swim, especially on one of those rare blazing hot summer days. I should say, I used to enjoy an ocean swim. Now I’ll walk in the surf, but I confine my swims to pools. Sigh. Just do not relish the idea of being a sushi for a shark. Not since I saw a marine biologist say rather matter of factly: If you are in the water along any beach in Southern California, there is a Great White shark looking at you. S/he will almost never attack you, unless you are doing a very good imitation of a seal. But for me, when it comes to being eaten by a shark, “almost never” isn’t never enough. YIKES.

    1. Oh my goodness! That’s quite a comment to hear form a marine biologist. I think I must be in denial about that fact. I like to swim in the ocean, but admittedly I’m not a strong enough swimmer to get out there very deep. I hope that helps! 🙂 However, if I think about the great whites too much I may need to rethink any swimming. I would agree that “almost never” isn’t very reassuring. LOL!

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