Living in Central California provides diverse opportunities to visit amazingly different biomes. Mountain forests, grasslands, deserts and temperate coastal environments are all within a short drive from “home.” Brown bears, badgers, bobcats, mountain lions, snakes and hundreds of species of birds all nearby and encountered on a weekend or day trip. The most unique encounter would have to be with the Elephant Seals.
For a time my parents lived in Cambria, a small coastal hamlet just south of the Hearst Castle. About ten miles drive from their home is a highly active E-seal rookery, with now what amounts to around 5000 new babies each winter. Humans are prohibited from wandering the beach area that the seals mainly stay at, there are however, no such guidelines against seals from wandering the beaches where humans mainly hangout. It was at such a beach where my family of five plus one dog came face to face with the giant.
3500 lbs. (1500kg) of wriggling, snorting, belching blob was waiting for us on one of our morning excursions. We gave it wide birth, and kept the border collie leashed lest he indulge his herding instincts. The beast lay there, occasionally opening an eye to watch us, but mostly just lay there sunning itself and flapping sand on its back. This was an adolescent male, not yet old enough to join the massive birthing room two miles up the coast but still needing to instinctively haul out on the beach for a few months.
We all just watched and learned, nothing spectacular like being groped by an Orangutan but profound and humbling for all of us(well not Indiana he just wanted to keep moving once he found out we weren’t going to let him herd).