With the recent heat wave driving thousands to Southern California's beaches, parks and mountains, the urge to get away--really away--becomes overpowering. Two trips scheduled in the next eight days, both to unoccupied islands, might fill the need and then some.
The trips are to two offshore islands, mere specks on the map, in the Channel Island National Park system. They are visited only by permission.
On Sunday, the Sea Center of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History will sponsor a voyage to Santa Barbara Island, a sanctuary with an area of less than 1 square mile where sea lions and elephant seals breed far from the madding crowd.
The island offers opportunities for bird watching, and even plant gazing, now that native vegetation is recovering from damage done by farming, grazing and the introduction of non-native rabbits.
The Sea Center's trip--$65 per person, $55 for museum members--will leave from Ventura Harbor, 1827 Spinnaker Road, at 7 a.m. and return 12 hours later. Participants should be prepared for a three-hour cruise each way and are asked to bring lunch and beverages.
Because there are no shade trees on the island, hikers--led by museum docents and park-service rangers--are advised to pack hats and sunscreen. Call (805) 963-1067.
On Sept. 25, the Los Angeles Chapter of the Oceanic Society will offer a trip to 700-acre East Anacapa Island, also leaving from Ventura, this one from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As on Santa Barbara Island, sea lions and seals breed there; East Anacapa also boasts its rare (and very shy) island foxes, while indigenous sea otters frolic about its shores. Among easily spotted birds are cormorants, brown pelicans, oyster catchers and the occasional snowy egret.
Trippers are advised that as a scrub area, East Anacapa provides little shade. Further, participants, upon docking, must climb a ladder and then 152 steps to the top of the island--one of the few signs of man's presence there. Food, water and sturdy shoes are necessities of the tour, which will be conducted by a naturalist from the Nature Conservancy. Space is limited; reservations ($35 per person) a must. Call (213) 393-3776.