Oh my, what are those huge blubbery lumps?
Monterey Bay and Pigeon Point Lighthouse:
We left San Simeon beach with high hopes of making it to Monterey early enough so that we might be able to spend some time at the aquarium. We were, however, waylaid not five miles north of our campsite where there was a sea lion viewing point. We weren't going to stop, but a bunch of people were there and as I had never seen sea lions before, we decided to pull over and see what we could. At first we were disappointed and couldn't see anything. I got the bright idea to pull out the binoculars that have served us so well along the rest of this trip, and scan the beach. Immediately, the inconspicuous lumps formed themselves into slumbering sea lions. There were a bunch of them just lying on the beach sleeping away. It was so cool! And there were paths down from the parking lots to just above the sea lions, so we could stand right above them and watch them from 50 feet away! After we got our fill of the sea lions, we continued north to Monterey.
As has been the case so far, our drives along
An elephant seal scratching his belly...no, he really did.
the coast have been really neat. They've been really foggy for most of the day, only beginning to clear up around 2:00 in the afternoon. The fog, combined with the forests and cliffs that go right up to the waters edge, made for a really nice drive all the way up the coast, and we've had a really good time enjoying the sights. Once we finally reached Monterey, then we had to worry about finding a parking spot. And what an adventure that was. Traffic was terrible, there were no parking spots, and all of the parking lots wanted $10 or more for a whole day of parking, and it was already about 2:00. We finally found a parking garage that had space (which actually worked out better for us). Our first stop, of course, was Starbucks for chai and sandwiches. We then headed over to the aquarium, making it just in time for a presentation/Q&A on the deep sea, from which we headed directly to the penguin feeding. After these two planned events, we sort of wandered around, where we saw some really neat fish in the big indoor aquariums. We also went to see the jellyfish! They had
I thought it was hilarious how they alternated head-tail-head in their slumber line.
7 or 8 different types of jellyfish, all in these really cool tanks with bright blue backgrounds lit overhead so you could see the jellyfish. We also got to see a couple of sea otters playing around. One guy who worked there was telling us about one of the sea otters they used to have, a mother. Sea otters will often tuck a rock under their arm before they swim to the bottom of the sea, where they will use it to break off the abalones. When they come back up to the surface, they will float on their backs and lay the rock on their chest so that they can use it to crack the abalone open. Well this mother otter picked up an old coke bottle to use as her tool! Eventually she had pups, and as the mother is their only role model, they end up mimicking her and doing everything like she does. When her pups grew old enough to hunt for themselves, they couldn't find anything that looked like their mom's coke bottle. In order to help out, the people at the aquarium went looking for old coke bottles, too, but all they could find
These don't look like elephant seals, so I'm assuming they are harbor seals.
was an old Pepsi bottle. So now that is how they tell the two otters apart, by their beverage of choice, Pepsi or Coke!
We left the aquarium around 5:30. As we continued to drive up the coast, the fog began to roll in, making it more and more gloomy. Finally, just before dark, we reached Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel, where we were to stay for the night. To be completely honest, after having heard stories about Nickey's travels in Europe, I was a little bit wary about what we might find. I was imagining bums and homeless people, dirty beds, and weird people everywhere. After thoughts like these, I was very pleasantly surprised to find none of them. As soon as we pulled up, we went and checked in, getting our sheet sets and we went to claim our beds. There were only two people in the guys room, but there were only two free beds in Nickey's room, so I got a bottom bunk, but Nickey had to take the top. After making our beds and bringing in our clothing bags, we went and walked around the lighthouse. We didn't stay outside for long, because with the
Oh! You woke me up! Obviously these were elephant seals.
wind and fog it was pretty cold, but we got a neat view of the lighthouse and fog-horn building. We learned all about the Fresnel lens (invented by Augustin-Jean Fresnel to bend the light rays and emit them all parallel to each other in a single beam). The fog horn isn't used anymore, due to new navigational equipment onboard, but it was used until as late as 1976ish. They went through four different variations on the horn sound. We went inside when it got dark, and since the hostel had free WiFi (I know!) we wrote and sent out another blog. We made a gourmet dinner of cup-o-noodles and canned soup (on which I burned my hand quite nicely) and Nickey went to bed around 11:00, while I stayed up and read all about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes (my new acquisition from Solvang). In the morning, we arose and headed out into the early morning fog towards San Francisco, the bridge, and some mighty delicious bread!
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