“Self,” thought I earlier this week, “what could I possibly do to make my life more inconvenient?”. Â Setting myself on fire seemed too smelly; falling into a bottomless pit was impractical. Â And so I decided to go into pre-term labor.
The good news is that blueberry and I are both 100% fine and she’s staying put for now. Â The bad news is that I’m on hospital bed rest with continual contraction monitoring for the foreseeable future. Â At least there’s internet and books and a near-constant stream of nurses to keep me busy. 😉
Earlier this week, Tony and Steph came by to visit and they brought me a little elephant seal. Â Awwwa! Â I have named him Toco.
(Forgive the composition; there’s only so much you can do with an iPhone from a hospital bed)
Naturally, Toco brings to mind his larger and smellier brethren that I tend to visit on a regular basis on motorcycle rides. Â I’ve written about the rookeries many times (though, apparently, far fewer times than I’ve actually been there; slacker blogger):
- Piedras Blancas, October 2004
- Piedras Blancas, April 2006
- Piedras Blancas,Â April 2007
- AÃ±o Nuevo, April 2009
- AÃ±o Nuevo, August 2011
I thought I’d waxed poetic about the rookeries themselves, but even with the magic of my blog’s search function, I couldn’t find anything. Â So I’ll blather a little bit. Â Hey, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.
The Piedras Blancas rookery is a large but relatively new rookery just north of San Simeon (near Hearst Castle) along the Central Coast of California. Â The first birth occurred at Piedras Blancas in January 1992 and then, only four years later, Â nearly a thousand pups were born at the rookery.
The Friends of the Elephant Seal organization quickly formed and created a visitor parking and viewing area that was safe for both seals and humans, and now — in my opinion — Piedras Blancas is one of the best places to view elephant seals in California.
It’s a remarkable motorcycle ride from San Francisco down to Piedras Blancas — a little over 200 miles, much of which is spectacular coastline down Highway 1. Â On a nice spring day, there’s no better place in the world.
On to the rookery…
There are always friends to be made at Piedras Blancas!
AÃ±o Nuevo State Reserve
AÃ±o NuevoÂ is our local rookery down near Santa Cruz; not as nice of a ride as the one to Piedras Blancas, but certainly more convenient if you need your elephant seal fix on a day ride.
AÃ±o Nuevo is a much older rookery than Piedras Blancas; the first pup was born there in 1961. Â The best time of year to see the seals at AÃ±o Nuevo is in winter and early spring, but be warned that access is available via guided walks only during that time. Â Weaners, as opposed to adults, hang out throughout the spring.
The only downside to AÃ±o Nuevo is that — unlike at Piedras Blancas, whose viewing area is literally feet from Highway 1 — there’s about a 3-mile round trip hike to get to the seals. Â The last bit is up a fairly high sand dune; totally do-able in motorcycle boots but make sure they’re comfy.
Clearly, it’s horrible riding around AÃ±o Neuvo, as well.
The elephant seals are one of the things I’m most looking forward to when I get back to riding. Â Obviously it’ll be a little while before I can take a weekend to ride south to Piedras Blancas, but hopefully this summer I’ll be able to duck out to AÃ±o Neuvo and catch the molting season. Â In the meantime, I have Toco to keep me company!