SoCal Coast

and elephant seals...

We finally get the bus back together after a new clutch, a new brake line and other bits and pieces and we pull out of the mechanic sounding not much better than we started.  That said...the bus stops when we hit the brakes, which is a win.  Especially as we head for mountains and curvy beach roads.   Paying our bill makes us miss mexico even more.  A couple hours in the shop cost us possibly more than ALL the repairs we had done during our trip south of the border.  Ouch. There's a chance we can't afford to own this vehicle in the states... but we're excited to be back on the road moving towards home.

We head north again, this time with more momentum but worse traffic.  The freeway is bumper to bumper.  We try the coastal road only to find out its worse, than back on the freeway.  The traffic is inescapable, and its like 2pm on a saturday.  Seriously?

I get it.  As i see people walking back and forth across the road with their surfboards midwinter... i do.  But to spend 2/3 or more of every day sitting in this kind of traffic- i couldn't live here.  It's no wonder so many people are moving north to portland.  Who can blame them.

clutchthe donstired dogoondockWe don't make it very far north before the sun starts going down, so we pull off and look for a place to park.  We've already looked into all the hotels and campsites in the area but it's valentines weekend and prices are even more inflated than they were before the holiday.  Instead we find a nice mexican restaurant where we can walk in and eat at the bar and boondock across the street.  Luxury it's not, but it's a good night's sleep before tackling traffic again in the morning.

As we continue north things eventually start to ease up, but we're ecstatic to pull into santa barbara (even if it's three days late) and to see Kelly again.  The end of a long day of driving and the sight of a good friend are as much as we could ask.  We spend the day catching up and then head to dog beach for a gorgeous sunset.  She certainly knows how to show a good time.  Love that girl!

From there we make our way toward Big Sur and pull off just south.  The traffic is easing up as we go, but the warm air is replaced by cold, damp and fog.  As we once again pull out our hoodies and wool socks it sets in that we're returning to the northwest (even though we hear the weather at home is great at the moment).  bry kel cheers jen tossjen warmApparently the not-to-miss attraction in the area are the elephant seals, so we made sure not to miss them...not that i'm sure how you could.  These beasts apparently spend most of the year in the water but come ashore for a month or two to breed, birth and rest.

Those three things pretty much describe what we saw.  Hundreds of seals lay scattered along the beach sleeping.  Women and babies lying nearby each other, moms on their sides or backs so the babies can feed.  It's all actually quite cute.

The males, however are another story.  These giants (they reach over 5000pounds) basically lie around causing general mayhem.  The beasts are nothing short of behemoth.  Best described as jabba the hutt with alfs head photoshopped on.  They are anything but attractive, and are even less polite.  Looking at a male lying on the sand, you'd assume there no way he can move that body without a great deal of water, a crane or a couple of forklifts.  As it turns out, as soon as they decide there's good enough reason-they do a flubbery version of the worm and haul their giant bodies across the sand at a pretty rapid rate (although it's a short lived manuever typically followed by another nap).

I only saw two reasons the males expelled that kind of energy.  1. To chase another male away from a female he was interested in and 2. to chase down that female, slap a mammoth flipper over her to hold her down/flip her over, heave all 5k ugly pounds on top of her and have his wayr.

I'd like to say that watching the courtship and mating of these beasts was romantically fitting with the valentines weekend, but honestly it was more disturbing.  Nothing romantic and far from consensual are the traditions on this beach.

Maybe don't take your kids here...  unless you really want to have some 'splainin to and baby jabba mating