Refugio State Beach Recovered From Santa Barbara Oil Spill

Campers Enjoying Pristine Shoreline On The California Coast

Refugio State Beach California
Refugio State Beach has recovered from the 2015 oil spill.

Here’s some good news.

No, make that great news.

There’s no evidence of the oil spill that tarnished and closed Refugio State Beach and neighboring El Capitan Beach north of Santa Barbara  just prior to Memorial Day Weekend.

Surfside Sam knows this first hand because I stopped their on my way driving from Los Angeles to Monterey.

I wanted to see for myself what damage may have been caused and what remained and am glad to report that you would never know anything ever happened to the place.

The campground was nearly full and it was a weekday (this despite a rather ambitious $40 fee just to put down a tent, let alone a camper).

Refugio State Beach California
Looking south at the rocky shore of Refugio State Beach in California.


Refugio State Beach California
Refugio is a tropical, pristine setting along the Southern California coast

This was actually my first time at Refugio, despite having driven by there dozens of times in the past. It has camp spots, a small store, a basketball court and picnic tables and BBQ grills right at the ocean.

What it doesn’t have is much of a beach – the shoreline is comprised mainly of rocks, far bigger than pebbles but a lot smaller than boulders. Those rocks did not show any sign of oil on them.

So naturally, the cleanup crews are to thank for getting this beautiful part of the California coast returned to its natural beauty. And in such a short amount of time, which a remarkable achievement.

Soggy Dollar Bar Hosting Retirement Party

GM Leaving BVIs Legend In Style

Soggy Dollar Bar British Virgin Islands
The Soggy Dollar Bar is home of the famous Painkiller drink.

The Soggy Dollar Bar, one of the iconic bars of the British Virgin Islands, is having a party.

It’s to say goodbye to Martina (Tina) Chinnery, who retired as general manager after 16 years.

“There really aren’t sufficient words to express the gratitude we feel for all the hard work and love Tina has demonstrated in her time here,” the bar wrote in an e-mail to fans and patrons.

“Her genuine hospitality, expert leadership and fierce determination have propelled Sandcastle/Soggy Dollar to a place we could only have imagined.”

And so the Sandcastle/Soggy Dollar Staff will be celebrating Tina’s Retirement at an Octoberfest party on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

This is during the first day of the Moorings Interline Regatta, the annual airplane industry’s play days in the BVIs.

So there will be a lot of Painkillers consumed at the Soggy Dollar, not just on Oct. 13, but for much of the month.

Labor Day The Last Big Beach Weekend Of The Year In The USA

Beach Travel To Decline As Summer Fades Into Fall

The end of summer means the end of fun beach events like concerts in Hermosa Beach, CA.

Well folks, this is it, I hope you had a great summer!

Labor Day Weekend is here and it’s the last big summertime blowout in the U.S.A.

After this weekend of filling up the car with towels, chairs, games and flotable objects that’s it for going to the beach for a while (except here in California, where it’s endless summer, of course).

Now people are trading in their bikinis and board shorts for college or NFL team sweatshirts, jackets and, eventually parkas.

In a way it’s sad, like saying goodbye to family at the end of a great reunion or to friends at the end of a great trip.

But summertime and the beach are for vacations and in the fall it’s back to reality, to school and the everyday work routine.

Hopefully, the beach provided you with some relaxation, entertainment and excitement.

And a forever-sunny mentality!

Florida To Have A Wet Weekend From Tropical Storm Erika

The Sunshine State To Get Drenched By Storm

Tropical Storm Erika
Tropical Storm Erika is poised to pounce on Florida but at least it’s not a hurricane.


At least Floridians are not having to reason with a hurricane this early in the season.

But they will have to deal with rain and a wet weekend as Tropical Storm Erika is due to soak the entire state, bottom to top, when it arrives in the Sunshine State.

While Erika is not expected to hit Florida until Sunday, the entire state is going to be wet for an entire week, with possible thunderstorms starting Sunday in the south and reaching the middle and northern parts of the state by the middle of next week.

According to Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, Erika is a very disjointed tropical system at this time and is likely to weaken to a tropical depression as it crosses Hispaniola and part of Cuba Friday night into Saturday.

“If the center of Erika survives the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola and part of the land mass of Cuba, it should slowly reorganize back into a tropical storm this weekend as it drifts over open waters once again,” Kottlowski said.

“If Erica does not survive the interaction with Hispaniola and Cuba, it may never reorganize into a coherent tropical storm again and impact on Florida would be reduced.”

Impact from the central Bahamas to South Florida and the Keys will most likely be less than that of a hurricane and could be similar to a minimal tropical storm.

According to,should the system drift into the eastern Gulf of Mexico and avoid much of the Florida Peninsula it could strike the upper west coast of Florida at midweek, perhaps as a hurricane.

The last hurricane to hit Florida was Wilma in October 2005.

If the system survives as far north as Florida waters, there will be concerns farther north into the Southern states from the Carolinas to perhaps as far west as Louisiana.

There is also the chance the system stalls along the southern U.S. coast after negotiating Florida waters during the middle of the week. Conditions in this area will be favorable for intensification.

Wine Tasting Tours On A Bicycle In Hermosa Beach, CA

Beach Cities Bike Tours Has Special Tour For #WineLovers

Baleen Kitchedn Redondo Beach wine night
The final stop of the wine tasting tour brings cheers King Harbor marina.


Wine Lovers have something to celebrate in the the Los Angeles South Bay.

But instead of being on the popular #WineWednesday hashtag, it’s on Thursdays.

Beach Cities Bike Tours, which gives guided tours of Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo Beach, also has a wine tasting tour on Thursday evenings.

The tours starts at 5 p.m., at the Hermosa Beach Pier.

From there, it’s onto wine tasting at Uncorked in Hermosa Beach, followed by wine tasting at The Bottle Inn just off The Strand in Hermosa. It finishes at BALEENKitchen in King Harbor, Redondo Beach, for its half-priced wine night which includes live music.

The tour lasts two hours (you can stay all night at Baleen if you chose, of course) and is the price $50 for groups up to 4 people. Each additional person is $10, plus it’ s$10 for each wine tasting and the wine consumed at Baleen Kitchen, of course.

You must supply your own bike; rental shops can be recommended. Tips are accepted.

Here’s how to contact Beach Cities Bike Tours:
• E-mail:
• Facebook: Beach Cities Bike Tours
• Twitter: @CABikeTours
• Phone: (310) 990-4020

The Story Behind Noble Park Along The Strand In Hermosa Beach

Site Of Former Biltmore Hotel Is Prime South Bay Real Estate

Hermosa Beach, CA Noble Park
It was a noble effort to put in Noble Park, but there’s no rooftop bar!


If you are going along The Strand– the beachfront walking/running/bicycling path – in the Los Angeles beach town of Hermosa Beach, you may wonder why there’s a patch of manicured dirt with a few palm trees just north of the pier.

After all, with a full view of The Strand, sand and Pacific Ocean, this is prime real estate. You might expect to see a business there, say a small hotel or big restaurant or bar.

Well this is the (short) story of why there is not a hotel there and why it is instead humble Noble Park.

There used to be a hotel on this site. It started out as the private Surf and Sand Club in 1926, then became The Biltmore Hotel in the 1930s.

It was an elegant place – it seems as if most elegant places back then were called “the Biltmore” – that attracted celebrities and political dignitaries. It had a fancy restaurant, an Olympic-sized pool and a bar with rooftop dancing.

Rooftop dancing!? How did they have that back then when today we can’t even have a rooftop bar in Hemosa!?

Hermosa Beach, CA Noble Park
The park contains palm trees and a small dirt bike path.


Hermosa Beach, CA Noble Park
Noble Park is two blocks from the pier and right on The Strand in Hermosa Beach.


Hermosa Beach, CA Noble Park
A small, almost hidden plaque, shows a brief history of the Biltmore Hotel.


Eventually, the hotel fell into decline and became home of a Mexican restaurant, La Playta. That place was great; it was pretty much a slab of concrete where local singles would go for beers on sunny weekend afternoons.

Well one day in the late 80s, a developer came along and wanted to build a hotel. So La Playta was moved back a few yards – it’s almost hidden now but it’s still there – and plans went ahead for a modern version of the Biltmore.

This was supported by some locals and fought by others. The city was as divided over this as it was recently over an oil drilling issue.

Eventually it passed, was contested, went to court and it eventually ended in a tie!

Since the developers had to win the measure, it lost in the tie. The hotel was defeated by a single vote.

Now not knowing what to do with the property the city entertained other ideas and eventually, almost by default, settled on a small park.

It’s a nice park, to be sure, but it would generating a lot more revenue as a hotel or some other business.

A rooftop bar with dancing would, of course, be as popular at night as the beach is during the day.


Southern California Has Some Of The World’s Widest Beaches

In Hermosa Beach, It’s A Long Way Across The Sand To The Pacific Ocean

Hermosa Beach, CA
This is just half of the distance across the sand to the water in Hermosa Beach, CA.


I’m coming to you while sitting on the sand in Hermosa Beach, one of the little beach towns in Los Angeles County.

But I can barely see the Pacific Ocean, even though it’s right in front of me. That’s because Hermosa – like most of the beaches in this area – are so wide it’s the equivalent of three city blocks from the sidewalk to the water.

In fact, Southern California has some of the widest beaches in the world.

In other places, you can step on the sand and be steps from the water.  Here, you could put the Rose Bowl on the beach and still not reach the ocean.

The only other beach I can compare it to is Siesta Key on central Florida’s Gulf Coast.  A couple of places on Siesta make for long walks to the water.

But here, every beach is wide – Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan, Hermosa, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, etc.  It’s only when you get down to Laguna Beach do things become more standard.

In San Diego, the beaches are not wide. Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are a Frisbee throw from wakway to water. But they are in L.A. County. And also in Santa Barbara.

A wide beach has its advantages, of course. In Hermosa and Manhattan, there’s plenty of space for two-wide volleyball courts and they don’t come close to sunbathers and surfers.

Hermosa Beach, CA The Strand
You could put the Rose Bowl between The Strand and the shore in Hermosa.


The sand is not crowded, either. There’s always plenty of room to put down your towel.

The disadvantage is that you can’t sprint from the sidewalk and make a dramatic plunge in the ocean. It’s too far of a run; you’ll be worn out long before you get to the water.

Plus – and here’s another thing about these beaches – they have the deepest sand in the world. So trying to run on it is a truly exhausting experience.

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