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Archive for california

Surfing in Santa Cruz

By Linda Tancs

Santa Cruz proudly claims to be the location of the very first board surfing ever in North America, at the “Rivermouth” break in 1885. A strong surf culture still prevails today, enhanced by the locale’s dedication as a World Surfing Reserve in 2012. An initiative of Save the Waves, the program serves as a global model for preserving wave breaks and their surrounding areas by recognizing and protecting the key environmental, cultural, economic and community attributes of surfing areas. At least 23 consistent surf breaks are sited along this marine protected area, including the world-class breaks of Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point. Not surprisingly, the city hosts a surfing museum overlooking Steamer Lane tracing over 100 years of surfing history in town. Winter is always the best time for surfing consistent waves, and the breaks are rated from “expert” to “beginner.”

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Gardens at the Getty

By Linda Tancs

The J. Paul Getty Museum (the Getty) celebrates visual arts of outstanding quality and historical importance at two locales in California. In Los Angeles, the Getty Center houses an international collection of European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts and photography from its beginnings to the present. In Malibu, the Getty Villa is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria. What both venues have in common are extraordinary gardens. Just like ancient Rome, the gardens at the villa are integral to the site, boasting fountains, arbors and reflecting ponds designed after ancient Roman models and planted with species known from the ancient Mediterranean. The heart of the Getty Center is its Central Garden, featuring a natural ravine and tree-lined walkway amidst 500 varieties of plant material. The Center has reopened after a rash of wildfires in the area.

Breaking Up in Hollywood

By Linda Tancs

Forget about tea and sympathy. Apparently a better way to get over a relationship is to create art about it at the Museum of Broken Relationships in Hollywood, California. Originally founded in Zagreb, in 2010 it won the EMYA Kenneth Hudson Award as the most innovative and daring museum project in Europe. Exhibits include everything from wedding dresses to an ax used to break an ex’s furniture, accompanied by the contributor’s personal yet anonymous story. Cathartic? Maybe. But remember the immortal words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Tallest Deck in California

By Linda Tancs

OUE Skyspace LA is home to California’s tallest open-air observation deck, perched nearly 1,000 feet above downtown Los Angeles in the U.S. Bank Tower. As if stunning panoramic views weren’t enough enticement, Skyspace also lures in daredevils seeking a different kind of view thanks to the Skyslide. That’s a glass tube on the outside of the skyscraper spanning 45 feet from the 70th to the 69th floor. Dispensed like a human cannonball, gliders maneuver their way down the glass on a mat to what is hoped will be a smooth landing. Fingers crossed.

The Devil’s Teeth

By Linda Tancs

Once known as “the devil’s teeth” due to its treacherous and steep, rocky shoreline, the Farallon Islands (named for the Spanish farallón, meaning a rocky sea pillar) is a National Wildlife Refuge and home to the largest colony of nesting seabirds in the contiguous United States. Located 30 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge in California, the Refuge comprises four groups of small islands: Southeast Farallon, North Farallons, Middle Farallon and Noonday Rock. Given the sensitivity of the avian and mammalian community living there, the islands are not open to the public, and only Southeast Farallon (a research station) is accessible by boat. Nonetheless, year-round tours operate out of San Francisco to the southeast quadrant, offering wildlife enthusiasts the chance to gawk at whales and substantial populations of sea lions, northern elephant seals, tufted puffins and some of more than 400 species of birds recorded there.

Big Sur’s Golden Gate

By Linda Tancs

Along California’s sun-kissed Pacific Coast Highway is Big Sur‘s celebrated alternative to the Golden Gate Bridge. Known alternatively as Bixby Creek Bridge or Bixby Bridge, the span is a reinforced concrete open-spandrel arch bridge. Completed in 1932, the historic structure is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world, soaring 260 feet above the bottom of a steep canyon carved by Bixby Creek. A favorite of shutterbugs, the view is particularly impressive from the bridge’s south end at sunset.

The Crags of Santa Barbara

By Linda Tancs

California’s Rattlesnake Canyon trail moves north and eastward for nearly three miles up Rattlesnake Canyon and ends on Gibraltar Road. Besides the beautiful views of Santa Barbara, Montecito, birds and wildflowers, this part of Santa Barbara’s back country offers the intrepid the formidable Gibraltar Rock. Located next to its namesake road, the formation’s south face is akin to a bunny slope. Those desiring more of a challenge should head for the west face and the cliff’s subsidiary formations. There you’ll meet up with climbs bearing names like Sweating Buckets, The Nose, Toxic Waste Wall and The Bolt Ladder. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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