Vignette of Monterey

my cousins, brother, sister and me on the beach

I go on a lot of vacations with my immediate family, but we have never really done a big extended family vacation. This summer, my cousins, who live in England, came down to the US for vacation, and we decided to go on a trip all together. My parents and two siblings, aunt and uncle, two grandparents, and my two cousins and their parents all rented a house on the beach in Watsonville, near Monterey. 

the view from the house balcony

We could walk right onto the beach from the house, and so we spent every day in the ocean, boogie boarding, body surfing, and swimming. We were going to try surfing too, but the waves weren't really any good on the three days we were there, so we stuck to boogie boarding. 

One of the best things about this area is how much life there is. The water near the sand was literally crawling with sand crabs - if I picked up a handful of wet sand, I could feel them scrabbling against my palms and see the sand moving as they dug downwards. With these little crustaceans came a multitude of birds; pelicans, seagulls, sand pipers...thousands on the beach every day, digging up food from the shallows. Deeper in the water, we discovered as we boogie boarded, were more animals. A few seals came and rode the waves next to us, peeking their furry brown heads out of the water just a few feet from us. Even farther out, pods of dolphins leapt and played. I've never seen so many dolphins so close to shore - it seemed as if they weren't even 70 feet from where we stood on the sand. Being in the water with the seals and dolphins was pretty amazing. Later, on a walk along the beach, we even saw a sea otter floating on its back. I'd never seen one of them in the wild before. And, of course, all along the beach were hundreds of sand dollars, both furry purple living ones and dried white, yellow, and green dead ones.

sunset

Along with the stunning array of sea life, the sunsets and sunrises over the ocean were amazing to watch. The whole sky reflects on the water, making the bright orangey-red seem literally endless in all directions. Even during the day, the clouds and blue sky made a mirror reflection on the smooth wet sand. We made smores on the beach one night, and the sky was black except for the moon and one star, right next to the moon. The moon was glowing orange, and every now and then the whole sky would just light up, a sudden sharp greenish flash, like lightning, except all across the sky rather than in one area. It was strange, but beautiful, especially over the ocean. The next morning, there was a little thunder and lightning, so maybe it was lightning over the ocean. Who knows? 

I love being on the beach, and spending those few days right on the water with my family made it even better.

I found out how sand dollars move. Pretty cool!

me and my brother