sometimes I forget how lucky we are

-- Last Updated: Jul-12-16 12:20 PM EST --

Sometimes I forget how lucky we are here in San Francisco Bay area. When it comes to paddling opportunities, we have it all. White water rivers a few hours away, surfing, rock gardens, protected waters, warm places to paddle, etc. I am not sure there is any place in the world with as good a mix.

Recently, we have seem very remarkable improvements in wildlife. The worst of the fishing methods (like gill netting) have been stopped, the bay is getting cleaner, etc. Harbor porpoises started repopulating the bay around 1998, and now are seen in large numbers.

Now whale seem to be repopulating the bay. We've had them off shore in numbers for years, but only about once a year would I see one in the bay and generally it was one that got lost and worked its way out quickly. But since May, we've had a pod of humpbacks who have been in and out of the bay regularly. I've seen them 5 or 6 times, including last Sunday when I was leading a tour for an outfitter. We were not as close, but same ones, as shown in this video by some kayaking friends of mine:

Really far inside the Bay
It’s hard to tell but from the picture with the bridge in the background they are a couple of miles within the Bay … pretty cool.

are starving from Global Warming.

I take it no one turned over your Skwatch lately ?

Wonderful video
and terrific memories those paddlers will have for a lifetime. I’ve never seen a whale in real time (other than the Belugas at the Chicago Aquarium) and can’t even begin to imagine the size of a humpback in the wild.

Good to hear things are improving in the bay.

I like where I live too
And rejoice in the return of scarce species

It’s fun to live with four dozen lakes five rivers and the ocean within an hour

Minus California traffic:)

And kayak camping along the coast on 150 islands. 14 within sight of Portland

The little Portland

Life wouldn’t be. The same without water.

Or encountering a rotting finback. Makes one feel real small

BetweenT I and Alcatraz
They were between Treasure Island and Alcatraz, so very far in the bay. Furthest I have ever seen themy in the bay (usually I see them close to or just inside the GG Bridge).

Ok, I’ll bite
Ok, I’ll bite. These whales are not even close to starving. Lots of food in the water off of NorCal. Been more and more humpbacks and blue whales spending their whole summers here. The move of humpbacks to feeding IN the bay is the new part.

Grays have also increased, but they mostly just commute past us each winter/spring. And orcas have been following in numbers to prey on the baby Grays.

you’ve got to love those places
where there is a variety of recreational opportunities and an economy that encourages those opportunities and lifestyle. They don’t exist everywhere.

I think about the northern part of my state (MI) this way, except the promotion and lifestyle part has a long way to go before it matches the SF bay area.

Those who do move up here
to live full time do it precisely for the lifestyle. With the exception of Traverse City (which is the major city up here), it’s a pretty much small town America laid back atmosphere.

We have clean air, clean water, great local businesses; excellent restaurants, terrific farmers markets, wonderful trail systems, and a strong arts community.

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts, a $50 million dollar project, just had their groundbreaking event:

Even the winters are enchanting - our snow stays white until it melts in the spring. :slight_smile:

you’re right
Don’t get me wrong, I love what NM has to offer. I was talking more about promotion of active recreational lifestyles, taking advantage of the assets including trails, the lakes and rivers. TC does a decent job with the VASA trails and competitive events and such, but as a whole I don’t think NM does as good a job promoting such a lifestyle as places like the Bay area, and Boulder, for example. IMO it’s the only way to retain a younger active demographic.

I think that is great!
However, I do not envy you as I too have many different paddling options. I will be paddling ww within 3 hours of here this weekend. Spent a week at the coast in June paddling the Charleston area.

We have the longest stretch of undeveloped coast line on the American Atlantic due to uninhabited barrier islands and Spartina marsh. I can paddle mt lakes, Piedmont lakes, and coastal plain lakes all in differing ecosystems. We have black water, alluvial, and clear Mt rivers and creeks. Then there are the coastal swamps, and Sparkleberry Swamp. I camp in the mountains, on the rivers, in the swamps and on the beach in wild settings. All within 3 hours of me.

We now have numerous Brown Pelicans, Bald Eagles and Osprey (saw a Peregrine with a kill a few days ago here and a Golden Eagle in 2013). Numerous water and shore birds winter and nest on our coast (even have a pair of whooping cranes that winter in the ACE basin). Love it when the Loggerhead turtles congregate in the spring and nest in the summer. Gators have made a remarkable recovery. Only place Bottlenose Dolphin strand feed I believe.

Still in the southeast we lack the large marine mammals and cliff face coast of parts of the west. One day I hope to do some paddling out west. Thanks for sharing.

Am guessing
population, infrastructure, and logistics play a part. Traverse City can handle high density crowds and actively pursues them. Lots of direct flights into TVC.

There are local recreational activities (5-10-15K runs, bike races, xx ski races, paddling events, etc.) put on by small towns and villages but kept at the local level.

Here’s an event that should appeal to paddlers:

Ellsworth, where the start is located, has a population of 347 - and one of the best French restaurants in the state.

yes, that used to be the Short’s brewery
crawl, until Paddle Antrim took charge. Those guys are a good organization that the chain of lakes needs.

I’m up there regularly, and have friends living in TC and Petoskey. My Petoskey friends are lamenting the fact that there just aren’t as many young active people as there are down here, for the most part it’s a vacation community - nothing wrong with that by the way. Their daughter left for a school in Manhattan; they say they see lots of youth moving away but not much coming back. The bike trails in both cities are second to none in the state, but so many people in SE MI are unaware of them.

You have a point about infrastructure, and also there’s the point about change, when what is already done works so well. I’m just a type of person who’s always trying to fix something when maybe it isn’t broken. I see what the area has to offer in paddling, mountain biking, road biking, xc and downhill skiing within a small radius and while it reminds me of places like Boulder, I just wish that could be promoted better. OTOH, if N MI is filled with people, then does it lose some of its charm? I’m not sure but there’s probably a balance.

I see great things down the road for TC, for example it’s hard to match the combination of the culinary and local food resources. And all the state’s best microbreweries are located in the north! So I hope the ag thing gathers momentum to the point that TC rivals places like Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor as cultural centers with young active people to sustain it.

Make your own luck?
I feel lucky to be in an area with such a vast array of outdoor opportunities as well.

Here in Idaho, the natives are fond of criticizing California and recent refugees from same who suggest any improvements to their new home. The popular belief is that California can do nothing right, and that anything that California does is a bad idea here. While there may be some reason to think that way in regards to fiscal and political issues, I have to disagree when it comes to environmental issues (but, of cours, I myself am a California transplant - 40+ years ago.

Having grown up in California, I have seen in my lifetime the sad condition it’s waters were in and the amazing recovery in some parts that has been the result of some good policy. While there is still much room for improvement, Idaho could stand to learn some things about environmental health from California.

Great news there about whales in the bay! My 18 year old self would never have believed it.