A fairly comprehensive guide book to the California Coast, covering such topics as history, landscape, people, communities, and wildlife, based on more than forty years of travel and insights. Side trips take the reader to hidden beaches, lonely shores, prime wineries, uncommon restaurants, and more.
John gives an overview of the book:
Because humans gather in herds, beaches are, in many places, quite deserted a few miles up or down the coast from the metropolitan aggregations. The length of this coast, almost 1200 miles from north to south, provides enough space for everyone, for the philosopher as well as the beach bunny, for the surfer and for the fisherman. Rivers flowing into the ocean are bordered by marshes providing habitats for ducks and rails, egrets and herons, hawks and song birds.
The climate of the coast is determined by two ocean currents. The cold California current runs south along the coast to Point Conception where it meets the warm Southern California current pushing north. The meeting of the two ocean streams creates some of the choppiest and foggiest conditions on the entire coast. North of here, the climate tends to be cool in summer, as the warm land air meets the cold current and creates the fogs for which this coast is famous.
South of Point Conception the coast is warm the year round, the sunshine interrupted only occasionally by winter storms bringing much-needed rain to the semi desert shores. Here palm trees rise above sunny beaches, red and white hibiscus blooms all year long; pink roses and magenta ice plant flowers spilling over cliffs and bluffs, set off houses crowding the very edge of the sea. Guavas, papayas, bananas, and other tropical fruits ripen in gardens that never feel the bite of frost. Orchards of oranges, lemons, and avocados reach high up on the slopes of the coastal mountains. Dolphins, porpoises, tuna, and flying fish frolic in offshore waters. Abalone cling to subtidal cliffs, and lobsters hide in rocky crevices.
Sea otters play in the kelp beds off the rocky coast of the central coast, where the roar of the sea mingles with the bellowing of sea lions. Fishing villages edge up to the beach. Vineyards dot the slopes; artichokes and brussels sprouts grow tall in bluff top fields, and strawberries ripen to perfection in sandy soils. Along the Big Sur coast, pines and cypresses mingle with coastal live oaks; redwoods crowd into the narrow canyons.
North of the Golden Gate, conifers claim an ever greater share of the rocky shore. Gnarled shore pines, Douglas-firs and Sitka spruces take the brunt of the sea wind, their contorted forms overtowered by majestic redwoods, the tallest trees in the world.
Author: Eating Well: A Guide to Foods of the Pacific Northwest, 1984; The Eating Well Cookbook, 1984; Shellfish Cookery: Absolutely Delicious Recipes from the West Coast, 1985; Pacific Northwest Wine Country, 2001; Washington: A Compass...