Santa Cruz Island- Channel Islands National Park

From Joshua Tree National Park we hopped over to Fairways RV Resort (another military campground, and one of the nicest we’ve stayed at thus far) in Port Hueneme… just down the road from our next adventure. The following morning we took a boat ride from Oxnard Harbor out to Channel Island National Park… Santa Cruz Island to be precise.

On the way out we encountered a school of dolphin…

Pacific Ocean near Channel Island National Park

Stormy skies on the horizon

Pacific Ocean near Channel Island National Park

A school of dolphin

Pacific Ocean near Channel Islands National Park

Dolphin playing in the wake

Pacific Ocean near Channel Islands National Park

Dolphin at play

Pacific Ocean near Channel Islands National Park

Dolphin, I swear he’s smiling

 

And shortly after spotted a few Humpback Whales. Seeing these marine creatures in the wild is always such a thrill.

Pacific Ocean near Channel Islands National Park

Humpback surfacing

Pacific Ocean near Channel Islands National Park

Humpback going under

Pacific Ocean near Channel Islands National Park

Humpback fluke before diving

Pacific Ocean near Channel Islands National Park

Humpback fluke (tail) in the air means she’s diving

Santa Cruz Island is known for for its numerous sea caves, including Painted Cave… one of the largest in the world. We did not include this in our excursion, but went ashore at Scorpion Ranch for a very wet hike… Cavern Point Loop Trail and returned via the North Bluff Trail. All totaled roughly 5 miles… much of it along a ridge high above the ocean.  Mom Nature did her best to push us off with squally weather.  One moment it was sunny and dry, the next howling winds and heavy rain. Needless to say we kept our distance from the cliffs.

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Arriving Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Shoreline of Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Rocks surrounding Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park, USA

John on the trail… Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Looking down from the trail near Prisoners Harbor, Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park, USA

From the edge of the trail, Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Looking across Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, USA

A high bluff in heavy winds!

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Rocky shoreline of Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Rugged shores of Santa Cruz Island

As we came back toward the bay into Scorpion Campground we found a picnic table out of the wind where we could sit and enjoy a bite to eat. We no sooner sat down and pulled out our goodies when I spotted a fox making his way across a clearing. I grabbed my camera and trotted off in pursuit. He was clearly on the hunt, but was soon distracted and hightailed it back in the direction he came from. I followed, of course, and observed a little knock-down-drag-out between him (her) and another slightly smaller fox.

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Island Fox facing off on Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Island Fox face off on Santa Cruz Island

 

These are Island Fox… a species endemic to this island. The two them had quite a scuffle, and when they separated, the smaller of the two scurried off to a spot very close to where we were sitting. He sat there looking sad and forlorn for quite awhile… like he’d been taught a hard lesson and needed time to think about it.

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Island Fox looking forlorn after a little “beat down”  on Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Island Fox shaking it off after a scuffle with kin, Santa Cruz

 

And then there’s this guy who hopped right between me and the fox with a whole lot to say.  Raven’s are obviously a very intelligent bird, but I’ve never found them attractive or appealing. Still trying to decide.

Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, USA

Raven… looks as if he’s commentating the scuffle between the two Island Fox

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Hopeful Raven hanging close while we dine

After resting for a bit we ventured around the campground, visitors center and museum. While doing so we spotted another fox. (I’m thinking it was the first fox I saw… the one who did the “beatin’ up” on the little guy. He had a wily look about him.) Anyway… as we watched and followed he became very attracted to something above him. He kept disappearing amongst the brush and then I’d spot him again. Next thing I knew he was up in a tree!

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Wily Island Fox on the hunt

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Island Fox

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Island Fox, literally up a tree… after something.

I found these Island Fox very entertaining. They’re rather goofy looking compared to our typical mainland fox. Longer in the neck for one, and this guy has a silly face. What appears to be buck-teeth is actually two little white patches on his chin.

A short while later we caught our boat back to the mainland, and set out the following morning for a special and significant place from my past- Santa Barbara. I’ll share the significance of this beautiful town in my next post.

For now… one last shot of Santa Cruz Island as we departed…

Channel Islands National Park, USA

Santa Cruz Island and beyond

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