We started the trip by leaving Monterey and quickly arriving to the 17-Mile Drive area. It's a scenic drive through a lightly wooded area that has many splendid mansions. Along the road you visit some local beaches and one concludes the drive by reaching and visiting the Pebble Beach Golf Club. It was built in 1919 and many world tournaments have been played here.
We walked around the grounds and admired the wide open scenery. While we were taking pictures around the course we noticed that in the bay behind us there was activity out in the bay. We looked closely and realized that they was a herd of humpback whales swimming across and others jumping (breaching) on the water. One of the workers informed us that a herd of humpback whales had been spending time here. Had we known earlier that they were here we would have planned a whale watching trip. I had watched the gray whales throughout California, but had only seen a few humpbacks in Maui.
We kept watching them for awhile. We felt very fortunate to have so many wonderful and unexpected and delightful experiences.
We drove back onto the main highway and calculated that we would quickly get reach Morro Bay.
I must say that it sounded like a good plan, but once again it would not be so.
We kept stopping over and over again to see the many scenic stops along the way. It seemed like we kept stopping every few miles to take more pictures. I think we were all greatly surprised how clear the weather was and how far we could see. It's normal for many areas to be covered by fog and cloud cover, but not on this trip. We decided to enjoy our luck and keep taking pictures.
We were getting closer to Morro and yet it was still a remote area along the coast. What caught our attention was that a good number of people were standing along the road and looking at the beach. Others had parked in the lot to get off. We decided to stop to see what all the commotion was about. We let our curiosity get the better of us.
Once we joined the people looking out we realized that they were watching the large herds of wild elephant seals that were simply lying on the beach. The male seals are usually quite large and have a protruding nose. They make very loud sounds and growl at the other males. The females and cubs just continue using their fins to throw sand on themselves and proceed with their sleep. It's cute to see them resting their heads on one another.
None of the seals seem to notice that we were overhead watching them.
Apparently a group of local volunteers had raised funds to build a walkway so that the public could come and watch these magnificent animals. I had never seen this species of seals in real life and I was thrilled to be able to see them in such close proximity. I want to acknowledge and thank the volunteers of the non-profit organization Friends of the Elephant Seal (www.elephantseal.org) that work to protect these large seals and make it possible for families to be in safe proximity to them. Their efforts and dedication helps to preserve their fragile breeding grounds.
We arrived in Morro Bay in time for dinner. Morro Bay is a very quaint town of 11,000. It's known for its commercial and recreational fishing. My uncle David would often haul his fishing boat from Fresno to here. He loved that they could catch rock cod and large halibut in these waters. Trini and I loved to bring our kids here to camp and explore the local coastal trails and watch the sea life. It was not uncommon to watch persons swimming in the waves along with small seals near them.
That happened once to our daughter Bianca when she was in middle school. She was swimming in the surf in Carpinteria. All of the sudden a pup seal popped out next to her. I think they surprised each other at first sight. Latter on they just shared the waves and kept each other company.
Today was the last night we would have dinner on this road trip with Jesus and Rosemary. We reflected on the fact that we have been on the road traveling for almost two weeks. We agreed that we started to begin feeling tired. We were going to go to sleep early.
We had thought about also visiting the nearby communities of Los Osos, Cayucos and San Luis Obispo. We finally decided to leave that for another trip.
Tomorrow we drive home in Los Angeles and reflect on this trip throughout the grand state of California.