30 April 2011

Hendry's Beach

Santa Barbara's Arroyo Burro Beach is a little known secret tucked away on the town's western edge. Referred to locally as Hendry's Beach, this narrow strip of sand begins at the terminus of the Arrow Burro creek, and  runs for miles along steep bluffs, with some of the south coast's nicest neighbor hoods nestled overhead. 

Hendry's Beach, Santa Barbara, CA

From Hwy 101, take Las Positas Road south. You'll come to a t intersection with cliff drive. Turn right, and a parking lot will come up quickly on the left. This lot provides access to the Arroyo Burro Beach Park as well as The Boathouse Restaurant. Free public parking is available during the day and closes at sunset, although cars already there are allowed to stay.

Parking and Restaurant; Cliff Dr in background

Walking North up the coast

Extent of our Northward venture

Arroyo Burro beach is well-known for being dog friendly, and barbecues and bonfires are common, although not allowed except in designated areas in the park. 

Blue is Northbound, Red is Southbound

Hendry's Beach gained its local name from William Nicol and Anne Stronach Hendry, who owned and lived on the adjacent bluffs during the late 1800 and early 1900s.

Speed and Elevation profile of first leg of walk. 

View the Arroyo Burro beach in Google earth by dragging this file into Earth's "my places"

25 April 2011

Marilyn Monroe's Catalina Days

The following is a repost from the Los Angeles Times website. Please view the original article here

A photograph from 1943 era Avalon Habor shows a youthful Monroe
 (then Norma Jeane Baker) 
Article by Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
April 25, 2011 
Desperate to avoid being shunted to yet another foster home, 16-year-old Norma Jeane Baker in 1942 married 21-year-old James Dougherty, a neighbor's son whom she had been dating for several months. 
Dougherty joined the merchant marine in 1943 and was assigned to teach ocean safety on Catalina Island, where the young couple moved into an apartment overlooking Avalon harbor. Norma Jeane tried hard to make a go of it as a young housewife on the island 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, which had been taken over by the military duringWorld War II.
But their marriage was unhappy and short-lived. In 1944, months after leaving Catalina, she was discovered by a photographer whose images helped launch the career of Hollywood's most famous blond. She divorced Dougherty in 1946 and changed her name to Marilyn Monroe
Curators attempting to reconstruct her experiences for an upcoming exhibit, "Before She was Marilyn," have assembled a trove of letters and photographs that reveal the "blond bombshell" as a young woman, at once vulnerable and girlish, yet liberated from her dreary childhood.
With the Monroe exhibit, which is scheduled to open in August, and another, "Yesterday and Today: The Beatles andEric Clapton as Photographed by Pattie Boyd," which opens May 7, the 58-year-old Catalina Island Museum is shifting direction to broaden its appeal.
"We used to specialize in presentations about the island's heritage," said Michael De Marsche, executive director of the museum, which recently reopened on the ground floor of Avalon's Casino with new galleries and an expanded gift shop. "Our idea with Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles is to break out of that niche and create a new public showcase for Southern California." 
A dozen of the photographs had never been linked to Monroe's life here until museum curator Jeannine Pedersen identified telltale landforms, landmarks and street signs that pinpointed the spots where she posed. 
Against backdrops of scalloped beaches, the distinctive Casino and piers with military boats dipping and tugging at their moorings, the young Norma Jeane can be seen with a radiant smile showing off skirt ensembles and two-piece sun suits that caught the attention of men on the island, making her husband resentful and jealous. 
De Marsche said she also enjoyed playing with neighborhood children until called home late in the evening by her husband. 
"It was a fascinating year of transition for youthful Marilyn," De Marsche said. "These photographs and letters allow a fresh chance to explore her psychology as she was trying to come to grips with the seriousness of marriage, her femininity and her future." 
Every letter has a story to tell, and De Marsche has his favorites. One missive was written by Marilyn to her half sister, Bernice, in 1943. He read it aloud: "My mother brought me here for the summer when I was about seven years old. I remember going to the Casino to dance with her, of course. I didn't dance, but she let me sit on the side and watch her, and I remember it was way after my bedtime too. But anyway, what I'm getting at is that at Christmas time, the Maritime Service held a big dance at the same Casino and Jimmie and I went. It was the funniest feeling to be dancing on that same floor ten years later, I mean being old enough and everything. Oh it's hard to explain the feeling I had." 
Some details of her life in Avalon, such as exactly where she lived, remain elusive. But after an intense search for clues, Pedersen believes she resided in a third-floor apartment of a wood-framed building that still dominates the corner of Metropole Avenue and Beacon Street.
Remarkable transformations such as that of Monroe go with the territory on islands, according to Pattie Boyd, the former wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton — and the inspiration for Harrison's song "Something" and Clapton's anthem "Layla."
Take Harrison, who in the summer of 1971 chartered a boat and went deep-sea fishing off the coast of Catalina. A few weeks later, he led the Concert for Bangladesh in New York's Madison Square Garden, a two-night event that became a highlight of his post-Beatles career and the template for all-star pop concerts for charity. 
"I recently stumbled across two snapshots I took of George on that charter boat," Boyd said. "They reminded me of how there is something amazing about islands. People are drawn to them, and what often follows is luck, love or a dramatic new turn in your life." 
On the other hand, there are the Chicago Cubs, the subjects of a current exhibit at the Catalina Museum called "The Boys in Blue." The team, which trained on the island from 1921 to 1951, hasn't won a World Series since 1908.

Thank you to LA Times reporter Louis Sahagun: louis.sahagun@latimes.com

18 April 2011

Gravity's Ups and Downs: New map released showing earth's pull

The earth is anything but a smooth sphere. Mountains, valleys, ocean canyons, and expansive deserts give the globe we call home a lumpy, uneven appearance. A newly produced map shows that the strength of earth's gravity varies widely across the planet, as demonstrated in the uneven multicolored sphere called a geoid.

The geoid, a globe showing variations in gravity across the planet

A geoid demonstrates the average (mean) surface level of a hypothetical global ocean as if the earth were stationary. Devoid of other forces such as rotation, wind, and tides, water would 'pile up' in areas with higher gravity while lower gravity areas would result in ocean 'valleys.'

1. Ocean 2. Ellipsoid 3. Local plumb 4. Continent 5. Geoid
Image credit: MesserWoland

This detailed gravity map is due to a new European satellite called the "Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer." The GOCE, as it is sometimes called, collected data over thousands of orbits to produce a geoid of unprecedented accuracy and completeness.

A detailed geoid of earth is important for many reasons. It enhances the prediction of ocean and air currents. Movement of melting glaciers can be more accurate mapped because we can now account for gravity's varying effects. And perhaps most importantly, the geoid offers geologists more information which can be used to find out more about the earth's internal structure.

Read National Geographic's post here

13 April 2011

Mental Maps: Do We Know Our Way Around?

Environmental Cognition and Perception: What does it mean? According to UCSB's Dr. Dan Montello, perception and cognition of one's environment is the process of finding one's way, identifying dangers and resources, and in a more general sense how one's environment is understood. A great demonstration of this concept is the Mental Sketch Map, or a hand drawn map from memory of an area that one is quite familiar with.

UCSB official campus map
 I recently had to collect mental sketch maps from several peers for my Environmental Perception class here at UCSB. The idea was to see how UCSB students recalled campus and to see how campus was laid out in each other minds. One may be able to navigate around campus quite efficiently, but recalling all that data on a piece of paper at one time is much more difficult.

My six participants received these instructions and produced the following six maps: (please excuse the poor scan quality!)

Drawn by 19-year-old female who lives on campus

20 year old male living in IV

19 year old female living on campus

21 year old male living in Isla Vista, recently moved from Goleta

21 year old male living in Isla Vista

21 year old living in Isla Vista

  • Most people are unfamiliar with buildings on the north side of campus (mostly administrative buildings)
  • Living in Isla Vista gives one much more limited view of campus which largely excludes the dorm areas, etc
  • One's mode of transportation greatly affected perception: those who bike always put bike paths down first, and those who walk start with foot paths! 
  • No one could correctly locate Campbell hall, although it is the largest lecture hall on campus which EVERY UCSB has had class in at least once.... 
Now: take another look at UCSB's offical campus map. The maps I collected from my participants varied greatly in layout, accuracy, and usefulness, but its extremely interesting to see how people perceive their surroundings.

Again, Official UCSB campus map

05 April 2011

Round House in the Sky

A friend recently pointed out a structure in the mountains which she could see from Santa Barbara; it looked like a round tank or building with arches on the sides. We could not locate it on any map so a mountain adventure was quickly orchestrated so we could try and find it!

Route outline - we started to the south (right)
and worked our way north (left)

Based on where the building was in the mountains, we figured it would be located off of Gibraltar road, a narrow windy path which creeps slowly up the sheer cliffs of the Santa Ynez mountains. After 30 or 45 minutes of climbing, we came to a location where we could see the structure off one side of the road, but we had NO idea how to get to it.

Gibraltar Rd (in red) between Hwy 192 and Camino Cielo

looking west

We headed back down the hill and took a small turnoff which headed in the right direction. We parked on Gibraltar, and walked for ten or fifteen minutes out this rutted, dirt road.

we parked on Gibraltar and walked out a driveway for 10 minutes

Here is the turnoff (left) and Gibraltar road (continues to right)

We walked down the driveway and found the structure, which appeared to be an almost finished circular house! Perched on the edge of a small ledge, the house offers 270 degree views of the greater Santa Barbara area. The place doesn't appear to be lived in, but may still slowly be being built.

looking north/north-east (ocean behind us)

view of santa barbara from house

view from house looking west towards Goleta

Graph showing speed and elevation

Here is a google Map showing the location of this structure (green arrow)

View Larger Map

Download the GPX file to explore this adventure more in-depth in Google Earth!

03 April 2011

Catalina Island Ziplines!

One of Santa Catalina's most exciting attractions is the newly installed zipline ecotour located 5 minutes directly north of Avalon. Tucked away in a steep, lush canyon, this zipline is a great way to see breathtaking views of the island's topographical beauty, as well as a rare skyline view of the greater Los Angeles area. 

Here is a map tour of the route:
Downtown Avalon to Zipline base camp

Bus ride to 1st platform

The first zipline is short and close to the canyon side. It allows you to get a much needed feel for the experience because the next line is much longer, faster, and higher above the ground!
Line 1 - a gentle intro!

Line two took us soaring across the entire valley. As i exited the zipline's platform, the canyon floor dropped away beneath my feet and I really began to feel the full force of the ocean breeze, in a scary and exhilarating swaying sensation.
Line 2: straight across the entire width of the valley

Line 3: back across the valley

Line 4: by far the fastest!

Line 5: slow and mellow
 Here is the whole route. It took about 90 minutes to complete, and at each station the guides told us interesting facts and history about the surrounding buildings, flora, and fauna. Additionally, hilariously lame, tension-easing jokes were plentiful and much appreciated by myself and my fellow zipliners.
The whole route
 Here is a view looking in from over the water.
Route w/ elevations, as approximated (poorly) by my GPS

View of Avalon, the harbor, and zip line
route directly north (right) of town
Here is the speed and elevation profile for the zipline course (including travel to the zipline base camp, bus ride to start platform, and some travel back to town.) The zip line starts at 4 km total distance and goes until 5 km. The fastest line hit 100 km/h (about 60 mph)!

To see the route in Google Earth, you can download this gpx file!