Sunday, May 31, 2009

Seashell of the Week #4

This week I'm cheating a little bit, but hey it's my game —my rules. This week's selection has had the shell removed, exposing the beautiful interior. As a child, we found these in numerous quantities and they were one of the favorite meals of my father. His technique was intense and very noisy, but the results were superb! Can you guess what it is?
Isn't it beautiful? BTW, no one has guessed last week's yet, so here is your chance to get two points towards the prize!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Beach Camping

In one of my first posts I wrote briefly about my family's camping trips to the beach. We bought a travel trailer when I was quite young and our favorite trips were, of course, to the beach! This picture was taken in the dining area of our first trailer in June 1956, shortly before my fifth birthday. 

One of our favorite places for years was Hobson Park in Ventura County, California. Located about eight miles north of the city of Ventura, Hobson is a very small campground with about thirty campsites. There is no room for it to grow, but there are now homes located to the north. Most everything I remember as a child is hard to recognize now, but Hobson does not fall into this category. Sure, the road is now paved and I understand they have RV hook-ups, but the size and charm is still present. This is Hobson as it looks today:

And this is an aerial shot:

We knew everyone who camped there and became one big family. Those friendships carried on for many years and the memories are among my favorites. You can see from the pictures above that Hobson had a very rocky coastline. We scrambled over those rocks with no fear and when the tide was low we were rewarded with amazing tide pools! We'd find baby octopuses and let them slither on our arms, we'd stick our toes in anemones and scream when their tentacles wrapped around us. We found starfish and crabs, and tried in vain to catch the little fish that would dart in and out of the rocks. We cut our feet on barnacles and slipped on algae, but this didn't slow us down and we never grew bored with exploring our hidden treasures.

Back at camp, the adults relaxed, worked on their tans and planned the next party:

One of the annual favorites was the Hard Times Party. They dressed in old clothes — reminiscent of the Depression Era, so on the left  in this picture from 1963 we have what must have been a flapper style dress worn by the older women of that generation and on the right we have a classic hobo look. In the middle is my mom wearing a potato sack dress! Now Hawaii did not become a state until 1959, but my mom went for the tropical look to dress up her sack, adding leis around her ankle and leg, shell jewelry, a light pink wig, and flip flops to complete her ensemble. Don't ask me why — this is my mom's interpretation of hard times. She was a hoot and everyone loved her.

Here are the ladies in color. My mom is wearing her favorite outfit here — a bathing suit, but then mom had the figure for it along with great legs!

The parties at Hobson always included a pot luck dinner. While the women cooked, the men put all the tables together end-to-end, started the campfire for the fish, clams and mussels, and the feast ensued. We ate, we danced, we laughed, we sang and we enjoyed the camaraderie of good friends.

I still love camping at the beach, but I have gone from a trailer back to a tent. Keep your trailers and RV's, I love tent camping! Here is a pic of my campsite at McGrath Beach in Ventura taken in 1995. I don't rough it by any stretch of the imagination! I have a three room tent and an expresso maker for the fire pit. I camp where there are showers and I don't do hot dogs and hamburgers! Food tastes better cooked over a campfire after a day at the beach and I'm all about the food! In the future I'll share with you my recipe and technique for a clambake, it is what I always serve the first night after setting up camp.

So, there you have a brief look at forty years of beach camping for me from 1956–1995. The last time I was at McGrath was 1999, now I live in Florida and the camping is different here. I've camped at Fort DeSoto, but there are still lots of beaches to explore.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Seashell of the Week #3

Without further ado…the seashell of the week is:

One of my favorites that is getting harder to find along the shore. So, let's see who identifies it correctly this week! Remember, whoever gets the most right answers first in the first 12 weeks wins a mousepad of their choice from my Zazzle store! This is only Week #3, so there's still time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Me and the Space Shuttle Atlantis

So, I know your asking yourself just what does Shellbelle and the space shuttle Atlantis have in common? There is a quick, easy answer: We were both waiting out the rain on Florida's East Coast to complete our missions.

I arrived in Neptune Beach last Saturday for what was supposed to be a week of fun at the local beaches with a couple of side trips to St. Augustine, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Jekyll Island in Georgia. The weather was absolutely gorgeous when I arrived in time for the Dancin' In The Street Festival on Saturday. Sunny, with a cooling ocean breeze off the Atlantic. Here's a picture I took on neighboring Jax (Jacksonville) Beach the next day:

Inviting, don't you think? Later that evening the rain started and didn't stop! Now remember, I took that photo on Sunday. Here's the one I took at Neptune Beach on Thursday, when it finally slowed down to a heavy drizzle for a short time:

Now don't get me wrong, I think the beach is beautiful anytime, but this was supposed to be a fun in the sun type vacation. We had fun, we just didn't have sun for days…five days! In Florida we are used to storms, but they usually come and a few hours later the sun is back out. That is not what happened this time. I finally came home yesterday, I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and it was raining here also. Did I mention it is still raining today? Granted, it is not raining near as much as on the other coast, but it is still cloudy and wet. Oh, and humid. One thing you have to love when you live in a tropical climate is humidity. I don't love humidity, I tolerate it. Well, I don't really tolerate it, I just have learned to live with humidity. The AC runs 24 hours a day and the windows are always shut in the late Spring and Summer. We always know when Fall has arrived, not by the leaves turning color, but because we can turn off the AC and open the windows!

Back to the space shuttle though, I have to admire NASA, they are patiently waiting for the rain to stop, so that they can complete their mission. I gave up on mine and came home. I did hear on the news though that Atlantis may also have to give up and land in California. I wonder if they'll visit the beach while they are there?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Still Dancin"

I came to Neptune Beach in the Jacksonville area of Florida to attend their annual Dancin' In The Streets Festival. I'm still dancin', but instead of the streets, we're dancin' in the RAIN! We are starting our fourth day of non-stop rain and running out of things to do.

We are water-logged and have grown weary of the downpour. I love the beach at any time, but this continual rain has definitely but a damper on my trip. The rain is across the state, so I'm stuck here until it clears up a bit, which looks like tomorrow or Saturday. I'm not in that much of a hurry to get home; it's raining there also!

I did take some pictures on the beach yesterday and will post them when I get home. The waves were powerful and beautiful.

I hope you're enjoying the sunshine, wherever you are! Soak up some rays for me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Seashell of the Week #2

I'm in Jax Beach and having a great time! So, great that I almost forgot to post the Seashell of the Week quiz today. But, hey, I'm on beach time! So, before we head back out to catch some vibes, here is this week's mystery shell:

Question of the Week

I'm getting ready to head out to Neptune Beach! The beach is calling my name and I'm answering. Before I leave I need to post this week's question and I've been mulling it over, so without further ado, this week I'm posing something simple:

What is your favorite beach and why?

I hope you all have a beachy weekend!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What You Need To Take To The Beach

For years I've run across lists of what you need to take with you to go to

the beach.

I've never been one much for lists…

the only thing you really need to remember to take to the beach is


Feeling anxious? A little stressed?

Take yourself to the beach!

Kids driving you crazy?
Housework a little overwhelming? 

Take yourself to the beach!

Having a good day?
Want to make it even better? 

Take yourself to the beach!

Taking a book, a cooler packed with drinks and lunch,
flip flops,
and yada, yada, yada
is all well and good,
I've done  it plenty of times…BUT

not having any of those things ready, is no excuse not to

Take yourself to the beach!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

You're All Invited! "Dancin' In The Streets"

This weekend I'm heading to the east coast of Florida for a little R&R and if you're looking for something fun to do, join me at the 23rd Annual Dancin' In The Streets Festival in Neptune Beach, Florida this Saturday, May 16, 2009. The one-day festival takes place at Beaches Town Center, "Where Atlantic Blvd. meets the ocean" in Jacksonville.

Promises to be a fun-filled day of live music, food, art, crafts and a Kid's Zone. I'll definitely be checking out the band Danka at 1:00pm on the Orange Street Stage. The listing promotes them as a mix of reggae, surf and blues. Sounds like a good time to me!

Check out Dancin' In The Streets for more info. I'm going to stay on for a few days, but you can bet I'll be blogging about it and posting pictures on my return. Hope to see you there!

The Chambered Nautilus

For those who haven't read the comments on the "Seashell of the Week," the winner was my new online friend, David McRee.  A link to his Blog the Beach can be found to the right under "Beachy Blogs."

Yes, the answer was the beautiful Chambered Nautilus. Did you know that Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a poem by this name during the mid-nineteenth century American Renaissance? I share his thought-provoking words with you today:

The Chambered Nautilus

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,

Sails the unshadowed main,—

The venturous bark that flings

On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings

In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,

And coral reefs lie bare,

Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;

Wrecked is the ship of pearl!

And every chambered cell,

Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,

As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,

Before thee lies revealed,—

Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil

That spread his lustrous coil;

Still, as the spiral grew,

He left the past year's dwelling for the new,

Stole with soft step its shining archway through,

Built up its idle door,

Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,

Child of the wandering sea,

Cast from her lap, forlorn!

From thy dead lips a clearer note is born

Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn;

While on mine ear it rings,

Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,

As the swift seasons roll!

Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Let each new temple, nobler than the last,

Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,

Till thou at length art free,

Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!

by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Seashell of the Week #1

Today starts my weekly seashell identification quiz. I decided to start with something easy that also happens to be one of my favorites. Now you ask, "Will there be a prize?" The answer is yes! Every three months, whoever gets the right answer first most often will win a mousepad featuring their favorite shell on it! In the case of a tie, there will be runoff quiz. Sound good? Okay, then let's get started! For this first quiz, I only want the common name. If I find out you guys are really good at this I'm going to make it harder! Have fun!

Please note: If you are guessing as "Anonymous" there is no way for me to know who you are, so you will not be eligible for the prize.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Art of Tiki Carving

My son who is an incredible artist and photographer, also happens to be an amazing tiki carver. He lives in Redondo Beach, California and loves the beach as much as I do. I want to share a couple of pictures with you, so you can see why I am so proud.

Above: This was his first large one. (He also built the bamboo fence in the background.)

Below: Another of his masterpieces. Who looks more menacing, the tiki or Jim? Now don't you agree these are AMAZING??!!!!!!!

Recycled Candy-Wrapper Handbags

Okay, I hadn't really planned on writing about the environment — BUT — since saving the environment translates into saving our beloved beaches, I just had to blog about these handbags!

Ecoist handbags are made from recycled candy wrappers, food packages, soda labels, subway maps, newspapers and other waste-bound materials. We collect waste and turn it into functional, durable and eye-catching handbags that you will simply love to own. Shop Ecoist for eco-friendly gifts, accessories, jewelry and much more.

They range in size from a coin purse to this one that measures a whopping 21-inches by 14-inches! Wouldn't it perfect for strolling the boardwalk?

I should probably let you know that I have no connection to this company and therefore I wouldn't make any money should you decide to buy one, but I just had to share them with you. They are good for the environment and you would definitely be stylin'!

Question of the Week

I'm really hoping to make this blog interesting for all you beach lovers out there. With that in mind I have a few fun things planned. First, every Saturday I will be posting a Question of the Week and every Sunday I will be posting a photo of the Seashell of the Week for you to identify.

If you read the first post of my new blog from a few days ago you'll know that I blogged about my connection to the Beach Boys.

So, the question of the week is — drum roll, please — what is your favorite Beach Boy's song? We already know mine!

Southern California 1954 and 1964

I have loved the beach my whole life. Except for a short stint on a river in Arizona, I've never lived more than about thirty minutes away from the shore. Well, the first couple of years of my life don't count do they? By the time I was three my life as a beach girl had begun. I was very fortunate to be raised by parents who passed on their love of the beach to me. Here's a picture of me and my dad on a beach in Southern California in 1954. This would have been around the Santa Monica/Malibu area.

We lived in the San Fernando Valley, but at some point every month we headed to the beach. We bought a trailer and spent many weekends and vacations camping at the beach. When I was in grammar school one of our favorite spots was Hobson Park, located off Pacific Coast Highway in Ventura County. We then moved on to Carpenteria and eventually bought a mobilehome at Paradise Cove in Malibu. By this time I had reached my teenage years and spending weekends and most of the summer in Malibu was a dream come true!

I have to include a family photo taken at the Cove in 1964. I was 13-years old and loved surfing and surfers! Don't you love my mother's hat?

I'm pictured here with my parents, my brother Gerald and my baby sister Sandy. I loved the Cove and will be writing about it more in future posts, for now I leave you with this little glimpse into my past.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My First TBA Award from Zazzle!

Well, today has been a great day! I started my new blog and while I was busy setting it up I received the "Today's Best Art" award from Zazzle. I've discovered that I love designing Keds shoes and I received the award for my "Flamingos Galore" shoes. I actually like my "Flamingo Love" shoes better, but hey, I'm not complaining!

My New Blog!

I'm very excited about my new blog! I've decided that I want to have a place where I can ramble on about the thing I most enjoy in life—the beach. Well, I actually enjoy my friends and family the most, but when I'm at the beach with them — life couldn't be better!

I was born in Georgia, but I grew up in sunny Southern California in the 50s and 60s. Yes, I was an original beach girl. Don't you remember the Beach Boy's song, "Help Me, Rhonda?" It was a huge hit for them in 1965. I used to tell people they wrote if for me! What can I say, I was a huge fan and believe me Rhonda was not a popular name in California. In fact, I never met another Rhonda until well into my thirties.

Starting a blog about the beach at this time seems appropriate, since the Beach Boys are releasing a new album in eleven days. "Summer Love Songs" will be available in stores on May 21st. Cool, huh? PLUS, "Help Me, Rhonda" and "California Girls" are included on the new album! What goes around, comes around as they say.

Listen to the Beach Boys sing my song in 1965 on YouTube here.
I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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