We decided to drive all the way up the coast of California. It’s a winding, slow, sometimes teeth-clenching drive (ahh switchbacks, how I love and hate thee), but most importantly – it’s absolutely gorgeous! Highway 1 goes all the way along the coast from the South of California to the North. Sometimes it is called Highway 101, but when there is both, always choose the 1 because it’s closer to the ocean and therefore more beautiful.
We didn’t know this, but the drive along the coast is actually quite hilly, mountainous almost! Neither of us recalls ever driving along an ocean and mountains before. It was awesome!
I keep forgetting to include the videos we’ve taken on our iPhones! Oops. So here’s a video from our coastal drive:
(FYI: I thought I couldn’t embed the videos before but apparently I can! Yay!)
The drive was extra slow for us since Amelia doesn’t like to accelerate on hills these days and maxes out at 50 mph. You couldn’t possibly do 50 mph along a lot of this route anyway. We were happy to be driving North – as someone pointed out to us, the drive South is a lot more harrowing because you’re on the cliff and ocean side! We had a nice big wall of hill/mountain on our side of the road.
It was a cloudy, chilly day so we were happy to drive along and appreciate the scenery from inside cozy Amelia. We did stop every once and awhile at lookouts to appreciate the view a bit more and to get better pictures – I am constantly gasping at the beauty and bemoaning the fact that I just can’t capture it while in a moving vehicle with a dirty windshield.
We also stopped when Steve read a sign saying something about elephant seals and I freaked out and got all excited. I’ve never seen elephant seals before! Wild elephant seals, OMG!
We got to where they were all hanging out on the beach and they looked all cute, snuggled up against each other for warmth and company:
They were making these snorting noises that I found just hilarious and I was giggling away. Then I looked closer and I started to get a little weirded out.
Look at those teeth and those eyes!
I looked around and there were pairs of elephant seals attacking each other all over the place. I think all those marks on their skin are bite and scratch marks from each other!
Steve read that the young males challenge each other so that they can be prepared for real fights, so I felt a little better after that. But still, look at this guy, weird right?
I can see why they call them elephant seals.
A lot of them were still pretty cute though, even if they are really freaky.
Here’s a video Steve took of them – it was a super windy day so you can’t really hear all their snuffles and snorts:
As Steve pointed out in the video, they would randomly toss sand all over their bodies. Scientists don’t really know why they do this. One theory is that it’s to keep themselves from burning in the sun, but it was a cloudy cold day when we saw them so this doesn’t really make sense.
We planned to camp overnight in Big Sur at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, as Aimee recommended. They were all booked up, as well as three other campgrounds we tried until we finally found one with room. It was like we were meant for this campground – we saw a couple Westies staying at the permanent cabins (staff members we think) and one of the people at the registration office had dreadlocks. So we fit right in! 🙂 It was in a grove of redwoods and other trees and felt very earthy.
We were headed further North to Sunnyvale where we had friends who moved there from Ottawa. We were looking forward to seeing them again and seeing how much their little one had grown since we last saw him.
P.S. You may have noticed that there are no pictures of Steve in this post. I noticed that too. He really wasn’t posing with anything interesting. Here’s a photo of him from that day anyway (although I can tell, and maybe you can too, that he’s a little tired in this photo):