(Sea) Lion sleeps tonight - 23rd-24th September 2011
Santa Barbara, California
Yosemite blew me away and regularly took my breath away - especially during the Upper Yosemite Falls climb! However, it was time to move on and start our drive down Highway 1 - sadly not in the soft top convertible that everyone recommends but a very basic and clunky Hyundai.
With the iPod turned up, sun glasses at the ready and satnav programmed our next destination was Monterey Bay. We whizzed past countless fields growing a variety of produce including lettuce, tomatoes, pistachio nuts and corn. The lush green landscape was soon replaced with desert like vistas and hills that look a lot like sand dunes due to the extremely sunny rays. During this drive I observed some interesting road names including 'Crazy Horse Cyan Road' and 'Lucy Brown Lane', obviously named in honour of Charlie Brown's sister.
Monterey Bay is a fascinating fishing port with the famous Cannery Row. However, the highlight for us was experiencing the harbour seals, sea lion colonies along Fisherman's Wharf and countless pelicans. The harbour seals can be found on the waters' edge lazily lounging on their chosen rock watching the world go by. The pelicans fly around the harbour like cool dudes and all seem to have their own individual personalities. They are very cartoon like and can be found everywhere - on rocks, on the roofs of restaurants and flying low in the sky.
When you arrive at Fisherman's Wharf all you can hear are the sea lions barking in the distance - as you get closer the sound is deafening and the sight of hundreds of male sea lions all jostling for position is quite surreal. We were told by a ranger that the female seals are currently in Santa Barbara because the weather and shopping is better!
Stuart and I spent ages watching as the sea lions clamber over each other, often resulting in little fights, the gnashing of jaws and general chaos and disorder you would expect when a bunch of big boys get together. For the most part the sea lions loll about with the occasional flop into the sea in search of grub. As with the pelicans each one is very different with many sporting quite severe scars from boats, other animals and each other! We hope you enjoy the photos.
During our time in Monterey Bay we clocked up the usual miles by walking the length of the harbour, cannery row, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. It was a pretty gloomy day and the sea was in an aggressive mood resulting in some impressive waves. As we walked along Lover's Point there were a number of weddings taking place, including one which would have been a prime candidate for 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' - see photos! We also clocked three wild deer eating the flowers in the garden of one of the houses.
The laughing policeman - 25th September 2011
Don't worry Mum we have not got arrested.
We did, however, meet Bruce the Lieutenant who works in the Anti-Terrorist squad somewhere in New Jersey during our hike at Point Lobos. He was a giant of a man who clearly works-out, had very strong opinions about the places we should and should not visit in the states and was shocked that we did not carry a knife for protection! He proceeded to show us the huge combat knife he carries. Later I remembered that we do in fact have a Swiss army knife somewhere in the depth of our rucksack and is as blunt as Stuart. I feel safe now.
I was successful in finding the softer side of Mr Policeman when I got him talking about his two daughters - who are very keen to come to the UK to visit the Isle of White of all places - how bizarre? This guy definitely had presence and we enjoyed talking to him - although my hand is still aching from the very firm handshake at the end of the conversation.
When we were not being interrogated by Bruce, we enjoyed observing more sea lions and managed to see a few sea otters that frustratingly have been too quick for me to capture on camera.
I am off now to have some kindle time - I am currently reading the Steig Larsson trilogy - an interesting and sometimes harrowing read.
Remember now - don't have nightmares…….