Friday, May 13, 2016

Elephant seals bring larger than life charm to California coast

Hundreds of elephant seals -- once nearly extinct -- swim in a few weeks each year to breed on central California's coast.



From a walkway far above their habitat, tourists from all
over the globe observe the elephant seal habitat below.
Volunteers have helped save the 
elephant seal and create a lovely
display with informative posters.
NEARLY EXTINCT at one time, the elephant seal is making a whale of a comeback.
These female elephant seals far outnumber the more elusive males.
As the seals surrender to dusk, a lovely sunset caps the day near San Simeon.
There's something wonderfully joyous about gazing down at the beach to behold them stretched out on the sand.
YOU'RE WATCHING a  rare sight: a veritable bounty of elephant seals at rest and play.  They groom themselves, snuggle and snooze.  You hear their calls, watch them romp and tend their young, and revel in the miracle of their existence.
These beautiful creatures were nearly destroyed by man, but they're making an elephantine (pardon the pun) comeback.  By the way, they take their name not from their gigantic size but from their trunk-like inflatable snouts.
We'd driven many times past the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, but didn't stop until a couple weeks ago while staying at our favorite Cavalier Motel overnight stop in San Simeon.
 SUE, THE FRIENDLY hotel check-in clerk, told us the elephant seals were "in" -- big news, because they spend between eight and 10 months of the year in the waters.  We drove north from the motel about 10 or so miles, enjoying California's lovely central coast. When we came upon a couple dozen cars, we knew we'd arrived at the viewing area, which spreads several miles 90 miles south of Monterey.
IF YOU'RE planning to visit Hearst Castle State Historical Monument in San Simeon, this is just a stone's throw, worth staying another half-day.  It's just over a mile south of Point Piedras Blancas. Viewing is open daily, wheelchair accessible, and free. We watched these beautiful creatures with families, campers and city folk -- an international crowd enjoying the seals at close range. The place is above sea and fenced off, to keep the insensitive from wandering too close. Spectacular way to spend a couple hours. Check to make sure they're "in" at California State Parks, or Friends of the Elephant Seal:
Inn by the Lake offers warm hospitality,pleasant views, nearby attractions.

 UP NEXT: Lake Tahoe beckons, with a pet-friendly motel that offers a great cup of coffee and old-fashioned service. Then a cruise on the lake offers dancing, romancing, spectacular scenery and fine fare. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday when we post for the weekend.

Jenn Paredes, Paige Lindsey White and Susan Denaker
play three very different women in "Rapture, Blister, Burn."
BEST BET: San Diego Repertory Theater has made its reputation on cutting edge, thought provoking drama. The latest production is no exception. Catch "Rapture, Blister, Burn" before it closes May 15. The thought provoking play by Gina Gionfriddo (House of Cards") is the finale of the Rep's bang-up 40th season. Smart, funny, insightful study of feminism its ripples, circles and adjustments over the last half century.


  1. Wilderness champsMay 14, 2016 at 7:50 AM

    Great news that these magnificent creatures are protected and appreciated. Fine report and nice photos.

  2. What a surprise and joy! I never heard about them before. Made me want to fly West to see them! Maybe I can sometime. I've been in the lovely area before.

  3. Grateful in GalvestonMay 15, 2016 at 9:59 AM

    When we lose our sense of wonder at the natural world, we are lost.
    Please continue these insightful, beautifully illustrated travelogues.