Crazy About Seals

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Nov 22, 2005

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, November 18, 2005

Crazy about Seals

Firstly let me apologise for leading my loyal readers astray. I said that at Fisherman's Wharf in San Fran there are lots of seals. In fact they are sea lions. After the last two days I have become a novice marine biologist (much like George Costanza) having seen millions of seals and sea lions over the last couple of days. Driving along the coast today we stopped every few minutes to watch them frolic in the sea.

Fee has become obsessed with them. Photographing them. Staring at them. Admiring them. It is disturbing. Anyway for those who aren't as up with marine life as us, sea lions are bigger and more agile on land; hence work themselves up onto high rocks. They make barking noises and are very loud. Seals are smaller and hang in the water or low rocks. They aren't as loud but make such pleasant noises, which sound like burps and farts. Both sea lions and seals smell. Very bad. They sneeze a lot so if you get close you get covered in seal/sea lion snot. And yet Fee loves them.

Today we drove down the coast from San Fran to Monterey a very pleasant two hour drive. It is quite easy driving in the US, far easier than Europe. Once we dumped our stuff we headed straight to the famous 17 mile drive. We had been told by lots of people that we had to take this scenic drive (coincidentally 17 miles long, which works out well as the name was already in place). I was expecting a coastal highway drive but it is actually a private road that you have to pay $9 to enter. And it was the best $9 we have ever spent.

17 mile drive is actually run by the Pebble Beach Company and contains forest, nature reserves and five world championship courses. All set against a backdrop of rugged Pacific Ocean shoreline. Driving along the views were spectacular spectacular (there is no vernacular). We stopped every few minutes to take in the views, walk along the beach and take photos. Of course there were lots of sea lions and seals sunbaking on rocks or swimming in the water. It is amusing to watch them in the water they just bob up and down in the water with seaweed on their heads. Like they use the seaweed for protection. There were also otters swimming about and lots of birds. A great place for nature lovers.

Some parts of the coast in this region are quite hazardous and many a poor Spanish seafarer crashed into the rocks after mistaking it for Monterey Bay. Actually another thing I found it (I just don't stop learning) is that California belonged to Mexico until 1850, hence the many Spanish names. Along the coast is also the Lone Cypress Tree, one of California's landmarks. This tree sits out on a rocky perch on the oceans edge, far from any other trees. It is over 250 years old and a much revered symbol in this state.

The highlight for me however was visiting the Pebble Beach golf course, rated the number 1 golf course in the US that the public can play on. It has been home to the US Open (most recently in 2000) and is stunning mainly due to its location on the coast. It was like stepping into another world. The world of fancy golf clubs. The price to play here is a mere $475 USD plus an extra $60 to hire a caddy (and all players have a caddy). Of course if you play this course you must have the best clubs, equipment and outfit so the money out on the course is remarkable. There was a tournament of some sorts on and a little grandstand over the 18th from where we watched some groups. All the time I imagined it was me striding up the 18th fairway to the applause of many. One day, Ashley, one day.

All up the 17 mile drive took us over three hours (and it wasn't due to the traffic). Afterwards we drove on down to Carmel, a beautiful little coastal town perhaps most famous for having Clint Eastwood as mayor. I was ready to make his day but was dirty that he wasnt around. The drive to Carmel was very reminiscent of the Great Ocean Road.

Back in Monterey we visited their version of Fisherman's Wharf, which was a smaller version of the one in San Fran. Seafood. Clam chowder in sour bread. And of course barking sea lions. What made this even more exciting for Fee was being able to get incredibly close to the sea lions here. Within centremetres. She was so excited I thought she was going to ask them for autographs. Even though they are smelly and disgusting. Maybe she likes that. Does that mean that I am? Hmmm.
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