When last we wrote, we were somewhere around Monterey, California, with Cousin Marilyn. The remainder of our drive down the California coast gave us some spectacular scenery which we are sharing with you in this message.
Highway One twists along the sides of steep hills, offering countless views of the cliffs below, the waves, the multi-colored ocean, and the trees hugging the ground beside us and below us. Our luck held; we had perfect weather. (When we visited Cape Breton, we read that their ocean drive was second only to Highway One in California. They were right.)
We made a stop at Pfeiffer State Park for a short hike up to a pretty waterfall. A lunch stop at one of our favorite places, Nepenthe at Big Sur, was a treat; we sat outdoors and watched the sea far below while birds begged for crumbs on the rail in front of us.
We stopped at one overlook after another, looking at the occasional fishing boat, the occasional remote Pacific hillside home. At Ano Nuevo is a growing elephant seal colony. The seals come ashore to bear their young and nurse them. In the space of one month the babies grow from 150 pounds at birth to 500 pounds, while the mothers shrink from 1500 pounds to 1000 pounds. This done, the mothers come into estrus again and the gigantic bulls - up to 5000 pounds - inseminate them for next year's cycle. Then it's off to sea, where seals have been known to dive to 5000 feet and stay below for 2 hours. Meanwhile, the pups may have enough body weight and lucky escapes from predators to teach themselves to eat -- there is no other parenting. In three more months they leave the relative safety of the beach and go to sea.
We were very close to the colony; we listened to the different squeals, booms, barks, and roars, and watched the strong older males keep the juveniles away from their harem. No seal pups were smothered or killed while we watched - but it happens.
We ended our afternoon with a short walk along Jade Beach, near our motel, where the soft sand held mostly bird-claw prints.
Now three weeks have passed since we said good-bye to Marilyn, and all that time we have been in maintenance mode. We fixed the truck, the computers, and ourselves, and started on the taxes. There were no major problems, but root canal work and a crown took a couple of weeks, and we're still going back for more checkups.
In our spare time we've lunched with a few friends in the Bay Area, and played lots of games with our grandchildren, who are growing up -- 20, 14, and 10. But we're anxious to get back on the road and head east to some more genealogical venues and a small reunion with college friends in April. So we'll probably not get to do all the California visits we'd like.
California continues to be a most impressive state, with varied and beautiful scenery. We see lots more vineyards; evidently winemaking is a profitable business. The urban areas seem too crowded, although there's lots to see. If we lived here full time we'd want to take public transit and leave the driving to freeway-crazed maniacs!