Even though it may seem hard to believe, California for much of the twentieth century and periods before was a large agricultural zone. Areas like “Orange County” and “Lemon Grove” were named because of the large commercial agricultural operations that occurred in those areas. As a matter of fact, Disneyland was constructed on one hundred and sixty acres of land that was occupied by orange groves and walnut trees. While most of this land has been swallowed up by urban development, large agricultural zones remain today in the Central Valley, and through the Coachella Valley regions. While a number of state parks in California cover the historical heritage of these agricultural ventures, San Diego is also home to a yearly agricultural spectacle of flowers at the Carlsbad Flower Fields.
If you have a job like me, there's a temptation to view each week as an endless progression of identical days, broken only by minor events like the new fall lineup on TV, baseball playoffs, football games, vacations, weekends, and other minor spectacles. The savvy reader, however, will note that I say that this is merely a "temptation". Sure, one can get sucked into that mindset, but really, there's no reason to. This is San Diego - and there's always something phantasmagorical going on! The perfect example for this week is the RED TIDE or rather, I should say, the return of the RED TIDE! (Cue ominious and magical music).
"What is this so-called 'Red Tide' " you ask? Well, let me tell you: The “red tide” is caused by a large growth of algae – dinoflagellates – in a particular area. The large growth or “blooms” of these organisms cause the water to turn red – or brown in the affected area during the day, but at night, the movement of the water causes the dinoflagellates to emit bright flashes of light.
But wait - "I want to know more about the Red Tide", you now say. Great. Here's plenty of great red tide information for your reading pleasure: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/sep/27/red-tide-causing-stunning-bioluminescence-san-dieg/ ; http://lastadventurer.com/last-adventurers-fieldnotes/2010/5/11/red-tide-red-tide.html ; http://lastadventurer.com/last-adventurers-fieldnotes/2010/5/28/red-tide-ii-san-diego-may-27-2010-and-on.html.
Now, after doing all of this research I know what you are wondering: 1) Is it cooler than my glowing flat screen broadcasting the new "must see TV"; and 2) How do I see this wondrous natural glowy stuff?
1) Yes. Do you have to even ask? The sea is glowing!!!!
2) You'd find a beach anywhere from La Jolla, California to Carlsbad, California. The darker, the better. Artificial light ruins night vision and makes the phenomenon harder to see.
Let me also say that the best way to experience the red tide is not to stand back at a distance and stare at it (although, it is pretty hypnotic), but get up close and personal with it. Walk the tideline and watch your steps glow; or carve blazing runes and symbols in the sand with your fingers. No matter what you do, get out and enjoy it while you can, because like anything magical, it doesn't last long.
If nothing else, sing the song that I do, "Reeeeeeeeeeeed Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide". Don't do it out loud though. Other people on the beach find that creepy.