Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Big Sur coast, with zebras and elephant seals in the wild

We spent all day on the Big Sur coast, and while it was colder and not as sunny as yesterday, it was filled with wonder and double-takes.  Take the zebras, for example.  Yes, really, zebras!  They were out roaming the prairie with the cows, but were too far away for us to take pictures of them.  They used to be part of the Hearst estate, which included a zoo, and now they naturalized.
And then the elephant seals! These wondrous, monstrous, bizarre creatures that are so terribly awkward on land... There were thousands of them lounging in one area called the rookery.  They hang out there from December through February, where they mate and give birth.  When we arrived, a female had just given birth five minutes ago.  The males can weigh up to 5,000 pounds!
They look like overweight vacationers, packed tightly, sunbathing on the beach in Malibu.
The little black baby is nursing.  The milk consists of 70 percent fat.

We spent a lot of time outdoors today.  Our cheeks are red, and our appetites are voracious.  Steve is cooking dinner in the RV right now, bless his heart.  I really need this down time of updating the blog and taking a break from cooking all these home made dinners.  This is a vacation, after all.
Some highlights of today, starting with the Big Sur coast line:

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park with its gorgeous McWay Falls seemed almost otherworldly:

We hopped in and out of the RV a lot.  One of the stops was Salmon Creek Waterfall, a double waterfall, which was a short hike, and oh so worth it:

To get to all this beauty, we had to drive through the Central Valley yesterday, which is flat and not very picturesque. I felt bad for the cows in feedlots, living shoulder to shoulder in a mud pit. It made me think of Bella-Moo-Moo, my good friend Sierra's very lucky Jersey cow, who lives on lush green pasture, eats scrumptious vegetable treats, and gets her head and back scratched every day. This is how a cow should live.
What I loved about the Central Valley were the orange tree orchards, loaded with balls of bright oranges. This German born Kraut has never seen oranges growing on trees!
We rolled into Carmel at lunch time and had a really hard time finding parking for our RV. Thanks to my new smart phone, we found a bakery, where we stuffed our faces with sandwiches and treats, some of them involving – you guessed it – chocolate.
And what was even more amazing – there were flowers blooming. Flowers! Blooming! And the temperature approached 65 degrees, which, if you ask me, is close to heaven in January.
Anxious to bask in the sun, we didn't linger in Carmel (which is nice but touristy and overpriced), but went on a mission to find the perfect beach.

And did we ever find it! Among the breathtaking scenery of Big Sur, we found Garrapata state park beach, with fine sand and rocks and big waves. We took our long sleeves off, threw off our shoes, rolled up our pants and played in the waves. We climbed rocks, pulled gigantic kelp resembling pre-historic sea snakes, got sand into everything, dropped the camera in the salt water while doing handstands in the ocean (Steve), raced each other along the beach, and knitted (me).
Here are some images from our glorious day yesterday:

And tonight?  Tonight we are parked at Pismo Coast Village RV Resort, which is, in Steve's words, a "die-hard RVer's Shangrila, i.e. not our style".  He's right.  It's awful.  But it is right by the beach and has Wifi, so it works for me.  It has a playground and a pool, so it works for the kids.  Look, isn't it crazy:

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