Monday 13 April 2015

Big Sur

A real live otter in the wild!
Like 99.95% of the world's population, I think otters are awesome (the other 0.05% have problems bigger than I can help them with). So one of my big aims when we drove the Big Sur was to see real, live, wild otters.

In service of this aim, we started our Big Sur trip with a drive to a small marine reserve called Point Lobos. It, like the rest of the Big Sur, is gorgeous. Dramatic cliffs and rocks rising out of an azure sea and all that. You will be able to see that in the photos. What you can't see in the photos is that Point Lobos smelled freaking amazing. I have no idea what it was. I tried to make my fervent sniffing as subtle as possible. A lovely place to linger. There were lots of sea birds including some truly ugly brown pelicans (Will objects to my calling them ugly. They look much prettier in his photos) and egrets that stood on the top of the kelp out at sea, so they looked like they were walking on water. As we were watching the sky turn all sorts of spectacular colours, we saw an otter! He was just chilling in the ocean, fluffing his fur, twisting and turning in the ocean, generally looking like he was having a good time.

Brown Pelican
Sunset at Point Lobos looking towards Carmel

We stayed in a town called Carmel, which I remembered from a trip with my mum when I was 11 as being the town where Clint Eastwood was mayor for a while (the things that stick in your brain when you could be remembering something important). It is a really nice little town that has a bit of a personality crisis between being a cute little seaside village and a tourist trap for rich Californians. We found a really nice organic cafe to have dinner in and I enjoyed window shopping the art galleries and jewellery shops that I can't afford.

The next morning we went to Monterey Aquarium, another place I had visited with my mum back in the day, which also has otters - both in the aquarium but also swimming wild off the pier out the back. I had remembered the otters, and the amazing, huge kelp forest tank, but my new discovery this trip was their spectacular jelly fish collection, of which I took far too many photos (two are below).

After the aquarium, we went for a drive down the Big Sur. Will's calling it the Great Ocean Road of California but, and my apologies to the Great Ocean Road, I think the Big Sur is far superior. Just look at it! Our coffee stop was a little disappointing though - we stopped at a cafe that is in a house that used to be owned by Orson Wells and Rita Hayworth. They didn't seat us in the dining area but at a bench so we had no table to put our drinks on, they charged me extra to have milk and sugar with my tea, and Will's latte was an insult to coffee everywhere. Never mind. There were cool woodpeckers in the trees nearby. The drive was beautiful, we saw lots of birds of prey and clambered over scrub and rocks to beautiful isolated beaches. Another place I could have stayed longer.

[Click on any photo to view as a slideshow]

Sunset at Point Lobos
Otter at the Monterey Aquarium
Just look at how cool they are!
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Evening light on the Bixby Bridge
The Big Sur coastline
Sunset on the beach

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