Long Snouts And Water Spouts

We’ve been cruising south on highway 1 along the California coast, finding our travel mojo again.

 

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Cement Ship – Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz

 

Santa Cruz to Monterrey to Big Sur…along the winding road, following along with the whales also heading south. We stop often to watch huge water spouts emerge from the ocean, then spot the enormous dark blobs barely visible, looking more like tiny specks in the gigantic Pacific Ocean.

So refreshing it’s been, beautiful blue skies and perfect temperature in the 60’s and 70’s. Monarch butterflies flitter about, and golden poppies are already brightening up the green hillsides in some localities.

It’s feeling a bit like spring.

The campgrounds are wonderfully sparse, our fellow campers we meet also energetically embrace this glorious opportunity to enjoy the outdoors without the summer crowds.

 

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Morning bird songs wake us in the dawn, and orange sunsets announce the close of our days. So nice to be back in sync with nature’s rhythms again.

 

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Piedras Blancas, a little north of charming Cambria, is home to thousands of Elephant Seals. These massive pinnipeds, once so close to extinction, there were only 50 known animals off of an isolated island, have made a whopping comeback, and now are able to entertain us humans with their bizarre shapes, very unromantic love lives, and ever so cute babies.  From December through January, they haul their massive tonnage out of the ocean up onto shore, give birth, breed, and stay around only long enough to wean the pups, before swimming off into the depths of oceanic life again.

 

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A real treat and amazement to watch…the males can weigh between two and five thousand pounds!! The dominant and beta males constantly challenge each other for lordship over their harems, and the babies constantly try to keep from getting trampled as these massive males (incredibly fast) maneuver along the shore alternately mating the girls, and fending off the boys.

 

 

To add interest to the show, the California coast has been having many “King tides”…excessively high tides, which reduce the beach front real estate to a slender thread of sand, crowding the seals, and mixing up the harems, so the big Bull Elephant Seals have even more work to do, to keep everything straight! We watched this one little pup try so hard to get across the hurdle of rock to reach his mother, we just wanted to go give him a little shove to help out. (We didn’t) Poor thing was so exhausted.

 

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Laying down our tired bodies from much exercise and outdoor vitamin D, we are lulled asleep by the crashing of the ocean waves. So grateful and fortunate for this past week.

6 thoughts on “Long Snouts And Water Spouts”

  1. I’m so WOW’d by these photos(and the beautiful descriptive writing alongside). Now I want to take copy this route. How far back to you stay from the elephant seals? They’re so massive and amazing! I never saw sea lions in the wild until a few years ago and it was one of the thrills of my life so far but now I need to see elephant seals. You got so many great photos and the area looks lovely. What’s the temperature?

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    1. Thanks SusanElizabeth. There is a fence between you and the seals you need to stay behind. But Piedras Blancas in my opinion is the best viewing site. There is a really nice boardwalk to walk along, with lots of docents to answer questions. And there is NO charge to walk there. The birthing and breeding stuff takes place from December through about Valentines Day. The pups hang around a little longer after they are weaned and mom’s head back out to sea. The do come back onto shore again in spring for molting season, but at that time they mostly just lay around. I would plan a trip for January for the most excitment. We lucked out with perfect weater!

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      1. January sounds GREAT because I like cooler weather anyway and I’d definitely want to go when there’s the “most excitement” as you say=) I will be out of the country, I think I hope, next January so it kills me to think I’ll have to wait 2 years!! A friend of mine just moved to California and I’m putting this on my list of things to see when I visit her. Wonderful post again, thanks for sharing and for replying to me.

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  2. So happy to see that you are once again on you journey. We missed your posts. We love traveling with you, hope you both enjoy the new adventures for 2015 as much as we will enjoy reading about them. Love to you both.

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