Our chilly children and their “dark,”
“crumbly” California sand castle.
The verdict is in. The Pacific Ocean is colder than the Atlantic Ocean according to our children. True, we weren’t visiting Southern California. We were staying in Pacifica, California, just south of San Francisco.
“The water’s too cold!” Our son proclaimed as we shivered trying to allow the waves to wash over our feet.
I got up to my knees. The children, however, ran back to dry sand. And that’s another beef the kids had.
“The sand is too thick!” The twins complained as they tried to make their sand castles stick together.
“We’re not on a tropical island, you know,” I told them.
My husband put it another way.
“You guys have come all the way across the United States—a whole continent—and all you can think of is how much you like our warm South [New] Jersey beaches better than this northern California beach?” My husband asked them, dumbfounded.
I had to agree with him. Look what we’ve just done. We’ve traversed a continent. This was ridiculous!
But it is interesting. Although Pacifica is warmer than our little piece of New Jersey, the Pacific Ocean is indeed colder.
So I told the children we should research a bit. “Let’s stop at one of the marinas to question the experts about it.”
All of them—including my husband—rolled their eyes at me. It must have been the “r” word I dropped. I didn’t realize it at the time.
“We’re all about learning new things together, remember?” I told them. “Right, Dear? I looked for confirmation from my husband. “Especially when we camp with five kids in nature.”
A hush fell over the trailer. We were getting ready for bed at the time. Then the whispering began. My husband started it. He whispered something to our family Brainiac, our second daughter.
“It’s the warm gulf stream in the Atlantic that keeps New Jersey’s beach water warmer,” she spouted.
My eyes widened.
Then our son piped up. “The Atlantic Gulf Stream goes north along the coastland.”
“Really,” I asked, impressed.
My husband steamed up his ear again.
“Yes, Mom.” Our son beamed. “It comes from the Caribbean and heads up to Greenland.”
“But why was the Atlantic so cold when we visited Maine last summer?” I asked him.
It was his turn to widen his eyes. “Dad?”
I tried to conceal a smile but couldn’t.
My husband rolled his eyes again. “Because the warm gulf stream bounces off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and heads out to sea,” he finally said. “Any beach north of the Cape is colder.”
“But what about the Pacific Ocean, Daddy?” Our oldest daughter asked.
My husband addressed all of us in the trailer. “In the Pacific, the current runs down the coast coming from Alaska.”
“That’ll make it cold!” The oldest said.
I looked over at the twins. Their eyebrows were still knit. “What’s the problem, angels?” I asked. “I think Daddy answered the question pretty well.”
“But why is the sand so dark and heavy?” One twin asked.
“Well now you’re talking about the geology of the land,” I said. I looked at my husband. He just shrugged. “Hmm,” I said. “Maybe we should find a geologist or a museum.”
“No!” The other children chorused.
I looked at the twins. It was their turn to shrug. So I told them what I thought.
“It’s probably from the waves hammering at the dark rocks along the coastline in California. I’m sure the thicker shells and the forests and plant matter along the coast help to make the sand darker and thicker too.”
They seemed to be satisfied with this explanation. As long as their sand castles held together!
Children are sponges. They really do want to know everything. It’s just that they don’t want to search for information while on vacation. Our children didn’t mind my seeking out a park ranger for clarification, but they didn’t want to make a specific side trip to a museum to find out further information.
When we got home, I researched on my own about why the water was colder in the Pacific at California beaches and found an interesting explanation here. It has short video links attached. The kids and I found it interesting and thought you might like to look at it too.
It was more difficult to find a good site about California’s sand. Sand is indeed a product of its location, from rocks, plants, and sea shells. This site offered some pictures and explanation of sand in general.
Have you ever shared the extent of your knowledge with your children? They’re a great audience and can easily ask enough questions to surpass what you know. Do your children like to research with you for answers or would they rather wait for you to figure it out and explain it to them?
Enjoy your holidays!
Enjoy your holidays!