A pair of surfers creates an ‘Upstairs-Downstairs’ symmetry as they compete for waves off of 26th Avenue on Thursday.
A surfer crashes through the spray on a wave off of 26th Avenue on Thursday.
As the bull riders from the PBR Touring Pro Division arrived at the Salinas Sports Complex on Wednesday, they started their routine of preparation.
Cord McCoy, an 11-year pro from Oklahoma who once competed in the reality television show “The Amazing Race,” said it’s important to make sure his equipment is properly set up.
"If you break a strap on your spur, you’re going to have something go wrong during your ride that you knew nothing about and it adds danger to it if you haven’t checked you equipment," he said, adding that a mistake like that could cost one of the riders in Salinas a $15,000 purse.
Sean Willingham, a 13-year pro from Georgia who has ridden in more than 250 events, said preparation “is just like everyday life.”
"You put on your boots one foot at a time and go on with it," he said.
The bull riders welcomed each other as they trickled in and got ready. It was the calm before the storm.
"In a little bit here it’s going to get wild, so I just kind of chill out," North Dakota bull rider Josh Ehlers said.
His routine: After chatting with the other riders, he gets his rope ready by scraping off old resin and applying more resin to get it nice and sticky. Then he changes and continues the preparation.
"A guy has to stretch and get
The bull riders taped up whatever injuries they brought to the event. Willingham said there is more of an emphasis on safety in bull riding since he got started.
"There’s a lot of head injuries — I mean, it is a dangerous sport," he said. "But nowadays, there’s guys wearing helmets. After my head injury, it was either quit riding bulls or put on a helmet."
While there was initially some pushback against wearing helmets, Willingham said bull riders have realized it is necessary to prolong their careers. He said a cracked skull was his worst injury, but he also recently broke his wrist and has “a couple of plates and screws here and there” to keep his body together.
When serious injuries do occur, there is a medical staff ready to help. Mercedes Zertuche, a registered nurse, was part of a volunteer group on hand at the Salinas Sports Complex from the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital emergency room.
"It’s pretty exciting … but we hope that they never need us," she said.
Zertuche has been volunteering at the California Rodeo Salinas for six years. She said the riders get lots of cuts and bruises, but those aren’t the injuries that she deals with.
"We’ve seen people that if they didn’t have the paramedics and all of the medical support that they have here, they could have some very life-altering consequences here," she said. "We’re talking broken bones, internal injuries from the bull coming down on them. … They have a lot of obstacles to overcome to have a safe landing."
So why get into bull riding?
"You’ve got to be crazy," Willingham said. "It’s different. Some people grow up doing it and their families did it. For me, I didn’t start until I was 15 years old and I went and saw the rodeo in high school."
The California Rodeo Salinas officially kicks off Thursday with the opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Logan Thorstenson, a 10-year-old from Soledad, will sing the national anthem. The arena events will be bull riding, tie down roping, team roping, saddle bronc riding and steer wrestling.
Tommy Wright can be reached at 646-4457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
APTOS - Some trails are measured by distances. A planned connector between Cabrillo College and the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is measured by years.
More than a decade in the making, the county last month approved $40,000 to finally finish a path through a 140-acre property behind Cabrillo College that advocates see as part of a link between Nisene Marks and New Brighton State Beach.
"It will be a very cool thing when it’s done. It’s taken ridiculously long, but it’s getting close to the end," said Supervisor Ellen Pirie, who asked that the funding be included in the county’s recently completed budget.
The trail’s story stretches back more than half a century, and it predates Cabrillo College’s arrival, according to Vienna Woods neighbors. But for several years access officially has been cut off - an era that appears to be nearing an end.
Kathryn Britton, a neighbor who has advocated for the trail for years, said it’s more than a locals-only path to Soquel Drive.
"It’s much more than that. It was used by everybody up here, but it also was used by the whole community to get to the western side of Nisene Marks," Britton said, adding that during winter months the trail acts a bypass into the park’s inner reaches.
The trail runs across property owned by developer Steve Carmichael, who in 2008 was seeking approval to build a now-completed home on the property when he granted a 16-foot-wide easement though the property.
That ended years of struggle over the trail, stretching back into the late 1990s when Carmichael jointly purchased the property with another buyer. Over the years, talks between conservation and open space groups and the owners to purchase the land never came to fruition.
Pirie said the county wants to use the California Conservation Corps to cut the trail, with volunteers doing finishing work. She hopes the work could be completed soon.
The course of the trial already is surveyed and recorded, and some see it connected to a future Highway 1 bike and pedestrian overpass in Aptos delivering trekkers to New Brighton State Beach.
But after years of waiting, Britton still sounds impatient.
"It’s just going slow. Even now it’s been a couple years after the house was built," Britton said. "There’s no access through there. You’d like it to move faster."
Follow Sentinel reporter Jason Hoppin on Twitter: @scnewsdude
MOSS LANDING - For decades, patrons covered the walls and ceiling of the Moss Landing Inn with dollar bills.
Last month, the cash disappeared - for a good cause.
In honor of his friend, Susan Osorio, the executive director of Jacob’s Heart, owner Rey Retez stripped the bills from what locals call the “Dollar Bar” and donated them to the Watsonville-based nonprofit that supports children with cancer and their families.
The $12,892 donation, presented at a benefit hosted by the Elkhorn Yacht Club last month, had special significance for Osorio, who is being treated for a second bout of breast cancer.
"Rey’s choosing to offer the donation at this time in my life is so indicative of the kind of support provided by friends that helps you get through cancer," Osorio said. "At Jacob’s Heart, it’s the same. We are there to provide such needed support for families to get through cancer."
Retez, who also owns the adjacent restaurant, The Whole Enchilada, said people from all over the world have marked their visit to the bar by scribbling messages on dollars and tacking them up. It gives them a sense of belonging to a tradition, he said.
Wednesday, Retez stared up at the ceiling marked by fragments of tape and a few dozen remaining bills - “seed money,” he said. Those who contributed the mementoes over the years would be pleased to know children will benefit, he said.
"Susan is going through a tough time, and the strength she has shown me, gave me the inspiration to see what she’s doing for the kids," Retez said. "It’s important for the kids to see a person like (Susan). It gives them strength."
Osorio became involved with Jacob’s Heart nine years ago after surviving breast cancer. She served on the nonprofit’s board for four years before becoming the executive director.
Her cancer is unrelated to her illness 12 years ago and is less aggressive, she said. But during the past nine months she’s had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
"I certainly have a perspective of what families go through: The fear of it, the being sick, and the fact that the treatments for the cancer are what makes you sick, the times when you don’t feel well. The children are terribly sick, and they have to go through all that," she said.
But Osorio’s seen children get better, and go on with their lives. Jacob, in whose name the organization was founded 14 years ago, was 5 when he was diagnosed with cancer. He’s now a university student.
"The support you get during this time is what makes you endure," Osorio said.
At the June 23 benefit, the community came together to buttress Osorio and raised more than $15,000 for Jacob’s Heart, said organizer
Retez arrived carrying three large plastic bags stuffed with cash. It took 16 hours for 20 volunteers to count.
"This was without a doubt the most unique gift Jacob’s Heart has ever received," Osorio said.
Follow Sentinel reporter Donna Jones on Twitter: @DonnaJonesSCS
Already, a ghost fishing vessel turned up off the coast of Canada, and a large floating dock beached in Oregon. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is tracking the debris.
In March, a jogger reported finding what appears to be an empty bottle of Japanese dish soap, a household castoff that may have travelled thousand of miles across the sea before coming to rest, coincidentally, on Rio del Mar State Beach as well.
Hurley’s bouy is being kept at his house, but he has reported it to NOAA. Tsunami debris is not considered dangerous.
It appears faded on one side, as if it spent a lot of time in the sun. He has not had the lettering translated.
"Right away I pretty much thought a buoy that weathered had to have some from far away. And when I picked it up I saw the Japanese symbols on it," Hurley said.
News of the find was first reported on a Save Our Shores blog, an organization focused on maintaining a clean shoreline.
The group is partnering with NOAA to help track tsunami debris. President Obama has targeted NOAA’s marine debris program for funding cuts, though some federal lawmakers have urged his administration to take a close look at any threats posed by the debris.
Follow Sentinel reporter Jason Hoppin on Twitter: @scnewsdude
LIVE OAK — Seated on a bench in the small room, Leala Perceful cups the whiskered gray fur ball against her cheek and gazes down, watching with amusement as the four others scamper across the floor.
Startled at a slight movement, they spring into the air and bounce against the walls, then playfully skid across the linoleum, the soft fur on their backs and tails fluffed out for good measure.
Perceful’s been providing tender loving care to cats and kittens at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter’s Live Oak facility for about a year. Youthful hands will soon be cuddling and caring for these same kittens, as well as the other cats, dogs, rabbits and other animals that call the shelter home.
Until recently, youth who wanted to volunteer here or at the Watsonville facility had to have a parent or guardian present. But those adult figures are often unable or unwilling to accompany them, “and it breaks my heart to tell them, ‘No, I can’t have you here at the shelter,’” said Jen Walker, the shelter’s volunteer coordinator.
But last month, a new pilot program launched at the shelter, and adults are now being trained to work with youth ages 13-17, supervising them as they play with and help groom everything from cats and dogs to rabbits and gerbils. With kitten season well under way, now is an especially great time to have the teams coming in, since the kittens are in an important developmental stage and will get to socialize with all age groups, Walker said.
“It makes them grow up to be more outgoing, steady cats, better pets, if they have experiences with kids and older people and seniors,” she said. “They learn that kids, older people and seniors are all great, instead of just learning that only adults are OK.”
The program is win-win situation, shelter officials say, since youth get to spend time with their furry compadres, while the adults gain leadership experience and community connections.
To participate in the program, youth and adults must first go through a general orientation, then a species-specific orientation depending on their preference, said Laney Rupp, project lead coordinator for the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County.
The adults then go through two additional trainings, one with YouthSERVE — a program operated by the Volunteer Center — and another to learn how to become effective mentors by shadowing longtime shelter volunteers.
“I’m thrilled to be starting the partnership with YouthSERVE so that we can get these young people who want to be involved, and give them the opportunity to have an adult trained leader come and work with them as a team, because that makes all the difference,” Walker said.
Follow Sentinel reporter Kimberly White on Twitter: @kwhite95066
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER