At 13 of the nation's greatest
playgrounds that you've never heard of, outdoor magic and
adventure are ripe for discovery.
Anacapa Island sits 14 miles off the coast of gridlocked
Southern California and, well, you pick your number of worlds away.
Today at the landing dock - merely a concrete slab near the foot of
the island's sheer guano-stained cliffs - large waves surge against
the base of the cliffs, blowing dragon's-breath mist out of various
caverns. It is a lovely and hypnotic sight, the rise and fall of
the ocean's skein like a slumbering giant, but it is problematic if
you are about to hop into the Pacific hauling camera gear and 350
feet of video and audio cable.
Dave Stoltz grins at cameraman Bill Faulkner and diver-narrator
Andrea Moe. Through the miracle of neoprene and modern technology,
the three divers will soon enthrall more than 60 fifth graders,
though at the moment they are more concerned with the surging seas.
"If you start getting that sucking feeling when a set is coming in,
get to the bottom," advises Stoltz, one of the creators of the
underwater video program that's conducted three times a week, for
the curious of all ages, throughout the entire summer here on
Anacapa. "Let's have a good show and no one gets hurt."
Thirty feet above the divers, on a second landing, naturalist
Debra Herring preps the schoolkids seated on benches in front of
three dark television screens.
"Anything you want to know about a kelp forest, just ask," says
Herring. "But remember, while you're asking your question, the
diver is holding her breath because she can't hear you over the
bubbles. So ask your question in a timely fashion."