Finger foods and seashell utensils make beach picnics fun for kids. Photo: Heidi Trilling.
From our archives — Aug. 1, 2010
by Heidi Trilling
What would you do if you were a sailor, shipwrecked on shore with some food — but no dishes or silverware?
What would you eat if you were a mermaid, at a celebration feast in the sea?
Ask the children in your life these questions, and you’ll be on your way to a unique and memorable ocean-themed meal at the seashore. Picnics for children at the beach can be magical afternoons filled with imaginative play and fun finger foods. But they can also be a little messy.
Try minimizing the mess and the waste at the beach by simplifying and using some creativity. Don’t forget to break some rules and have some fun!
If you’ve ever attended a concert at the Pete Douglas Beach House in Half Moon Bay, you know what a great venue it is for jazz. It is situated right on the ocean near the Half Moon Bay harbor. Pete Douglas has created an intimate room that allows patrons to mingle with the artists after performances.
Here are tips on how you can spend an inexpensive day on the Half Moon Bay coast.
1. Walk the Coastside Trail.
The Coastside Trail on the San Mateo County Coast goes from Half Moon Bay State Park at the Poplar Avenue Beach to Miramar Beach which is almost three miles. It is well-paved and accessible for walkers, joggers, strollers and bikers. There are many places that offer access to the beaches along the way and the ocean views are spectacular. There are also adjacent ocean trails if you want to explore. These beaches are seldom crowded. If you walk all the way to Miramar Beach, you can stop at the Ebb Tide Café that has an outside deck right on the ocean. And if you are interested in renting bikes, you can find The Bike Works, conveniently located at 520 Kelly Ave. one block east of Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay.
2. For a picnic lunch …
While there are many restaurants in Half Moon Bay and the surrounding area, you might consider shopping at the New Leaf Market at the junction of Highway 92 (San Mateo Road) and Highway 1. It has a deli with a nice variety of salads and sides as well as custom sandwiches. It also has a hot and cold “bar” with all kinds of food choices. There are many healthy snacks throughout the store including fresh organic fruits and vegetables.
3. To enjoy your picnic lunch, there are four beaches close to downtown. Francis Beach (also known as Half Moon Bay State Beach) is located at the west end of Kelly Avenue off Highway 1 and one block south of the New Leaf Market. This is the most developed beach with picnic tables and a campground. Venice Beach is also off Highway 1 on Venice Blvd. Dunes Beach is at the west end of Young Ave off Highway 1 and if you veer north after the ranger’s kiosk you will find Roosevelt Beach, the quietest and least busy of all the beaches. All have great ocean views.
4. Oceanview Driving Range
If you want something to do after lunch and if your choice for your picnic is Francis Beach, you will pass the driving range on your way to the beach. It’s a couple of blocks inland at 201 Kelly Ave. It is a small, family-owned and operated range and uncrowded. There is also a small putting green area.
5. To finish up your day, there are so many points of interest along the coast in the Half Moon Bay area and most are free. Some points of interest are the Half Moon Bay harbor, Point Montara and Pigeon Point Lighthouses, theFitzgerald Marine Reserve, Princeton Marsh, the James Johnston House and the Pescadero Marsh and Bird Refuge to name a few. You can get information on directions and hours for these and other points of interest at the Half Moon Bay Chamber website.
The dolphin is confirmed to be a female Pacific white-sided dolphin. The Marine Mammal Center has named her “Pacifica.” They were calling for help for last night but call if you are interested as they may still need volunteers.
TMMC has responded and rescued a stranded live cetacean at the north end of Rockaway beach in Pacifica. 160 cm long, 66 kg, good body condition, female, suspect juvenile, species we are arguing about (pacific white sided? – see photos), currently onsite in USDA pool, being led in pool by vet staff.)
We are looking for volunteers (with Cetacean care experience preferred) to do some overnight shifts TONIGHT (Wednesday February 16, 2011) from 12 a.m.-6 a.m. Ideally, we need 6-10 more interested folks, and 2 volunteers per shift are needed.Please call the rescue line at 289-7350 if interested or Deb Wickham at 289-7331. A wetsuit is needed.
For many of us, Pescadero offers a promise of uncertainty. The marsh floods, or it doesn’t (usually it does). Wetlands encroaching upon our main artery out of town requires us to be a little creative and able to handle last minute changes. The southbound lane of Highway 1 crumbles into the ocean, so CalTrans fixes it, only to have the sea pull it down again. There is no name for a resident of Pescadero. We are not Pescaderoans or Pescaderites. If you ever hear someone refer to themselves in this way, you’ve either found yourself a newbie or a liar. This place cannot be easily defined. Wind and water carve new pathways and erase our various markers of humanity. Telephone poles, roads, homes, all will be reclaimed eventually.
Pescadero is a reminder that change and uncertainty are natural. This is what drew me here—it’s so easy to get caught up in the anxieties of life, to create facades of control. When those false structures come tumbling down, I start to panic. Change scares me, even when it’s positive. When I find myself worrying, I walk. Usually I walk from my house up in the hills on Ranch Road West into town. I watch hawks, bobcats, deer, listen to songbirds, and enjoy the crunch of dirt and gravel beneath me. Occasionally, I find foxes or coyotes pouncing on rodents. By the time I reach Stage Road (about an hour’s walk from my home), my mind is centered and my body has let go of the tension that plagued me. Sometimes my anxiety is kicked up like a dust storm that refuses to settle. On those days, I walk the Sequoia Audubon Trail at Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve.
The flora is scrubby this close to the ocean. Everything is hardy and stubborn. The landscape is swept clean; walking through the watershed I began to feel my anxieties about the future get swept away, too. I startled birds. I clomp through thickets and disturb coots and Great Blue Herons. I may fancy myself an amateur photographer, but a nature photographer I am not.
I come to this place because it shows my fears in action. The waterways will not remain stagnant and calm. The lagoon won’t be recognizable to me the next time I see it. We can try to exert control over the ocean and creeks, but these are ultimately fruitless acts. I am always reminded of Robinson Jeffers’s poem “Carmel Point” when I walk through Pescadero. Although he lived and wrote about the Monterey Bay, he was pressed up against the ocean, just as we are. He lamented the development of his beloved Ireland-substitute, his “beautiful place defaced with a crop of surburban houses.” I think of the last few lines of this poem while I wander through the marsh, my worries worn away like sandstone:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
Visit the Coastside Trail in October and November on a sunny day for a walk, bike ride or on horseback. Dogs are allowed on leash.
Listening to the ocean is a great way to clear your mind.
Surfers frequent the waters along the Half Moon Bay beaches. If you come back in March and April you may see some whales drifting in the shallow water close to shore with their young. It’s quite a sight to see.