And what better place to go on New Year's Day than Año Nuevo State Reserve? You locals probably know that this beach is home to our native population of elephant seals. I hadn't been out there in more than 15 years and the kids are finally old enough to appreciate this sort of thing, so, I made some reservations for one of their guided walks (the only way you can legally see the seals). These reservations go quickly, but it turned out that there was lots of availability for today. We had to do a little working around the Rose Bowl game between Oregon and Ohio State for our two football fans, so we were out of the house by 8, picked up Gram and Grandpa and set off for the coast for the second time this week.I don't really remember what time of year I was out there last, but I'm guessing it was early spring. It was much different than it was today. Today was awesome!See how awesome this guy thinks it is?
At this time of year, mostly male elephant seals are there...strutting their stuff and competing to become alpha-male...you know, the guy who gets all the girls. Why any guy would want to deal with that many women and their children, I have no clue...except of course, elephant seals don't stick around to be nagged by their mates and hounded by their children, so I guess it's all O.K.It was a longish walk out there, about 2.5 hours round trip. the kids were thrilled to see the first of the giant seals, looking like not much more than big grey lumps on a distant beach. They had no idea just what they were in for. The walk took us very close to several bull seals and then up to the top of a dune where we could watch a big group of them...mostly lying around doing nothing. But there were a lot of males out there, so you can imagine they got on each other's nerves a little bit from time to time. We got to see some great sparring action...although nothing too violent. And no mating acts to explain, thankfully.There were a few females around. Apparently, they come on shore and give birth almost immediately, so they all had pups with them. So, there were some nursing pups in among the giant male seals.There were also some young seals, who mainly looked like they were trying to get away from the action.Mam was found playing in the sand along the way from time to time, but Smunch actually seemed pretty fascinated with the whole thing. He enjoyed looking at the pelicans, watching the bulls spar and even spotted a sea otter off the coast at our last dune overlook. No one whined until we were on our way back.I don't look too much like I'm whining, do I? But I was whimpering on the inside as Mam kept repeating, "But it's a mile away!" I made promises about getting her something at the gift shop and about snacks at the car. It was all too far away. But she didn't stop walking. She even ran ahead now and then...something I couldn't keep up with because I was dressed for a cold windy hike and had gotten pretty warm.
We stopped for lunch in a little town on the way back and made it home just in time to leave Smunch to watch the Rose Bowl with Grandpa. Mam decided to stay too. Nice quiet afternoon at home. Daddy and I both took a nap. I wish I was looking forward to school starting again on Tuesday. But honestly, it's been a great holiday vacation.
I think we started off the New Year just right. Bye, 2009!