Monday, 10 October 2011

California's Pacific Coast Highway - the sunny version

Alright, a lot of pictures here so I won't say too much. Although the weather wasn't so good on our trip the fog did disappear on our last full day in Cambria so we took the opportunity to head back up north on the PCH to see what we missed in the fog. It was in the middle of the day so the light is a little harsh - I'd love to do this trip again around sunset - but it was nice to see the sun again! The panorama above was taken a little north of Cambria near San Simeon where elephant seals just love to hang out.

And make a lot of noise. And very strange noises as well. There's the honking you get from regular seals plus lots of chatter and then the most bizarre low-pitched gurgling noise from some of the bigger males. Maybe female seals find that sort of thing attractive, who am I to say?

The really weird thing about these animals is that you would watch one of the males spot a competitor or perhaps a female and start rushing over to it as only massive seals can do, but halfway there they would just stop, collapse into the sand and go to sleep. Twenty minutes later they would wake up and go at it again just to stop as suddenly as last time. Sometimes one would get as far as their target only to stop and fall asleep with their head resting on the seal they were after. Utterly bizarre but compelling viewing.

No gurgling from these guys. We stopped a little further north and met these bikers on their way south. Nice guys - they asked if I would autograph the picture I took of their bikes!

Time to stop and take a stroll down a trail. It didn't go anywhere other than to the edge of a cliff so I turned back (wuss!) and took a photo of the trip to come. Unfortunately this time of year the grasses and flowers are pretty colourless in California but it still looked pretty to me after all that British fog.

Nearby a remarkable white rock. Its colour is due to all the layers of bird shit guano that has built up over the years. There was me thinking it was some sort of interesting geological phenomenon. I think if I were a sea bird I might have moved on a few years ago...

No sea bird here. A couple of turkey vultures were circling way above us. Probably waiting for me to fall off the cliff.

Another stop, another photo of the drive to come and no restroom in sight (a loo for British readers).

I saw these grasses all over the place, at least I assume they're grass. Anyone know what they're called? I'm too lazy to look it up.

Pam told me that this had been a strange summer and early fall and that the coastline wasn't looking as brown as normal for this time of year. Well, you can make your own mind up, but I call this pretty brown. I'm hoping to visit again after the monsoon season.

This is as far north as we got on this particular drive - an overlook of the beach at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and the famous waterfall. This place was recommended to me some time ago as a great place to take photos, and suspect it is - at sunset and without half a million tourists milling about (don't you just hate tourists?). Unfortunately the sunlight was still harsh so I've added a little vignetting to make it look half-interesting. I don't know what the designers of this place were thinking - you need to be there at sunset but it's miles away from a nice hotel room and decent bar, so given our priorities we headed back south for a night of debauchery with the locals at Mozzi's Saloon in Cambria and some verbal abuse from the Irish barman.

What a wonderful day!


Hilary said...

It sounds and looks absolutely wonderful. What a beautiful collection of images. I love the motorcyle shot.. so artsy. ;)

Thanks for your Lucy story, Tom. I know that fright well. Thankfully our furry friends are quite reslient.

Anonymous said...

My hubby was so intent on getting to Monterey (from S.F.) that we didn't stop at all. I would have loved to see those seals. How are they different from the Hawaiian Monk Seals at the Waikiki Aquarium, I wonder.

I laughed when I read that those bikers wanted your autograph!!! Did they think you were Hugh Grant with your accent? lol.

Tom said...

Nice pics, as usual. My favorites are the motorcycles and the one with the grass in the foreground.

Beep said...

I don't know if my comment got posted or not! But here I am again ;) I love this entry :) the pictures as well as what you wrote.

Tom said...

Hilary - it was a wonderful trip just a bit unfortunate that the weather wasn't so good, but the fog reminded me of home! Glad you liked the Lucy story on your blog!

Gigi - I don't know very much about seals but think elephant seals are much larger than monk seals - the ones we saw were huge and they're only juveniles! There's a short but interesting article on wikipedia -

Tom - unfortunately I didn't get to take too many interesting photos on this trip, but photography wasn't the main reason for the trip!

Pam - I think your comment got posted! Oh, hope you had a great birthday!