We began our day with a leisurely walk along our favorite beach, Corona del Mar. When we lived in Orange County, I would bring the kids to this beach frequently during the summer...to just enjoy the sand and water, for birthday parties and bonfires.
Due to the warm waters of El Nino forming this year, there was an unusual invasion of tuna crabs on the beaches of southern California while we were there. Normally, they stay further south. But now they were washing up (and dying) on the beaches by the tens of thousands. They're small, about 3"-4" long, and are not good for eating. Although this fellow was a good 6" long!
Then we hopped back in our rental car and drove up the coast about ten minutes to the area of the Balboa Pier. While hubby was putting money in the parking meter, I was glancing around...all the usual things...cars, people, surfboards, bicycles...but wait! What on earth was that? In the distance, I thought I saw a polo player. Surely not. As soon as the parking meter was fed, I said, "I want to go over there for a moment," pointing in the direction I'd seen the horse and rider. And sure enough, we had stumbled upon the first ever Newport Beach Polo Match (played for charity). Neither of us had ever seen a polo match before, and we found it quite interesting...very fast-paced. And of course, there were women in huge hats, because the ability to wear one or see other ladies' hats is at least half the reason to go to a polo match, don't you think?
We couldn't watch for too long, because we had lunch reservations here, at the Balboa Pavillion (c. 1906). From our table by the window, we had a great view of the comings and goings of the boats in the Newport Harbor, one of the busiest small-craft harbors in the world.
Afterwards, like little kids, we bought some salt water taffy and enjoyed the Balboa Fun Zone, an amusement area that generations of southern Californians have enjoyed. We played skee ball and rode the Ferris wheel.
The view from the top!
Then we walked onto the small passenger ferry and rode over to Balboa Island, where we indulged in some delicious Balboa bars. They are an ice cream bar that is made to order...dipped in melted chocolate, which freezes immediately, and then rolled in your choice of toppings. I chose toasted coconut.
Later, we had a delicious dinner, and this was our view the whole time we dined. In Orange County, nearly every night, the "marine layer" (a bank of low clouds) comes in off the coast every evening and slowly burns off with the sun each morning. This particular evening, it rolled in with a strange crack in it, stretching all across the sky, and lasting for more than an hour, as the sunset peeked through the crack. So beautiful!
Lots more vacation pictures to come!