California dreaming

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Here’s where I get to play like Crocodile Hunter and tell you about the natural beauty of California. Indulge me. There are times when the art of the real world is incomparable.

That said, I’ll get real in the next post and tell you about some great art I saw at San Francisco MOMA. (top image, sunset over Asilomar beach, five minutes walk from the cottage we stayed in)

Steve, Stella and I stayed in Pacific Grove, CA, just south of Monterey and north of Big Sur. PG is an old Methodist summer camp founded in the late 1800s. Tiny wood houses have plaques with the original owner’s name and date of construction — Mary Smith, 1888, etc. There are a lot of single women’s names on the old places which made me wonder.

First off, how did all those women arrive in California and were they Civil War widows or Gold Rush widows or ministers’ daughters or what? It’s a mystery.

California for me is a great nature opportunity and the California Central Coast is, if not animal heaven, then animal-lovers heaven. Central Park does have its egret as we found out when we took Janet Cardiff’s walk (see post here and here). Here’s an egret Steve and I spotted at Point Lobos State Park. Notice the Monet-like background. (image above)

The entire Monterey Bay is a protected wildlife area. Needless to say word’s gotten round to the seals of the world.

They hang out on the rocks and sunbathe on the beaches. (image left is seals on beach at the Stanford Research Center just next to the Monterey Aquarium — there must have been 200 seals altogether)

Evening walks just before sunset are great for birdwatching. The cormorants that sit on the rocks all day take off and fly in great flocks skimming the water for fish. One flock after another, all going the same direction. It’s thrilling.

This year, we also saw great flocks of brown pelicans doing the same. (image of pelicans– they flew so low you could see the patterns in their feathers)

I met my dear friend Robbie in Cambria, a town near the Hearst castle San Simeon. We stayed at the Bluebird Inn and when I arrived the first thing I saw was a little fledgeling hawk doing some bird watching of his own, sitting atop the sign for the Bluebird Inn. There was a bird feeder next to the sign. I’m sorry you can’t see the image better but the hawk looked a little like the bluebird pictured on the Inn’s sign which amused. (hawk is in the upper right of the picture, left)

Harbor seals are demure tiny things compared to elephant seals which hang out near San Simeon.

The bull elephant seals, which were on the beach molting their old skins and growing new ones before heading back out to sea, weigh up to 8,000 pounds, that’s each, not together. Image shows a couple bulls growling at each other. There were maybe 100 on the beach.

We saw — and heard — otters swimming on their backs cracking open their sea urchins for dinner. That was always great. Otters are solitary creatures so you have to look hard to spot them. Apparently they were endangered species once due to over-hunting but have been brought back through conservation efforts and their return has helped control the sea urchin population which restored the balance of the bay’s ecosystem.

Final image shows some of the indoor spectaculars at the Monterey Aquarium. Thanks for indulging my need to spill. Hope you get out there some day. It’s worth every penny. (image is Stella with jellyfish)

Tags

california, dreaming, features & interviews, reviews

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