Winter home to Elephant Seals.
Trip Start Sep 26, 2010
35Trip End Dec 24, 2010
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Where I stayed
San Simeon state park camp site
Big Sur is the name for the stretch of coast that runs between Monterey and San Luis Obispo and it's one of the most majestic coast lines you could wish to drive along.
I did this in a bit of a hurry years ago and have been eager to come back ever since. So when we decided that we were coming to America, it seemed the perfect opportunity to visit this part of California.
The road is twisty and twiny and hugs the edge of sheer cliffs to one side and to the other side is the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It's such a beautiful stretch of road that people can spend weeks taking their time driving from one end to the other. Taking it at a fair pace (but regularly stopping for photos) we did it in 24 hours!
There are no towns of any significance along the way, just a number of state parks where you could go hiking if you wanted to (we didn't) and a few camp sites and little picturesque motels to stay in.
After taking a load of pictures we were nearly at our chosen camp site for the night when arrived at the bit of road that has a viewing point for a beach that is home the wintering and amazing Elephant Seals.
Simon is a nature lover, so he was especially excited to see the Seals; they were great! I hand over to him at this point.
Hi everyone, hope you have been enjoying Emma's travel logging as much as I have. As Emma just mentioned we visited some amazing Elephant seals. Some of these mammals weigh in at two tonnes and they can cross the sand faster than their clothed observers. These seals spend most of the year at sea bulking up on fish which then sees them through the winter on the beach. While at sea they spend the vast majority of their time underwater feeding and avoiding their two natural predators; Great Whites and Orcas. They dive deeper then any other mammal and regularly reach depths of one mile which is hard to fathom (if you'll excuse the pun). While absorbing these facts it was quite simply fascinating to observe their individual and group behaviour. They clearly had their own personalities and almost human like behaviour at times. For example they would scratch their nose with their flippers and would often stroke their whiskers; much like a man who was most proud of his moustache !
They were all huddled up together on the beach in the sun to keep warm (much like Emma and myself in our subzero camping conditions (minus the sun of course)). Every now and then one of them would decide to adjust his position (all males on the beach at this time of year essentially sizing each other up before the females arrive in mid December) and would often clamber onto another with varying degrees of disgruntlement. They were really amazing to watch and it is quite humbling to know that they have only recently returned to these beaches having been hunted almost to extinction just 150 years ago. Please see the attached video clips. Bye for now and back over to Emma.
He's definitely a nature lover! Anyway twilight was setting in so we found a camp site (this time without flush toilets or showers which really freaked me out) and set up camp for the night. Simon bought some fire wood from the camp hosts and did his boy scout thing to try and keep us warm (a lost cause for me that night) and after an awful burger at a fast food joint in the nearest town, we spent our second night in the tent (and we think I got a mild dose of hypothermia, but that's another story)!