Remember that trip we took?
The one on the winding road? Highway One?
You remember. I'm sure you do -
the one with views like this one?
Sun on the water, rocks and sand and surf?
Well, take a closer look at those rocks.
Especially that big one right in the middle of this picture.
Hey, wait a second!
That ain't no rock.
In fact, it's a seal.
A very particular kind of seal,
that hauls out on a very particular beach
called Piedras Blancas.
And you can park-and-view near this very particular beach.
And let me tell you, if you've ever wondered if there is
weird wonderfulness in this world,
this is the viewpoint where every single suspicion is confirmed.
These are elephant seals.
The males can weigh up to 8,800 pounds
and live for 20 years.
Their name comes from that strangely-shaped proboscis -
and their immense size.
And they are amazing to watch.
They spend 80% of their time in the water, diving deeply, eating a whole lot.
They haul out to breed,
And we get to watch it all.
These mamas are very attentive - for about five months.
Then they waddle off to swim away and the pups are on their own. All of them that survive that first year find their back to their birthing beach again and again.
And if the wrong mama gets near the pup?
The jig is up.
And sand will fly.
(Actually, the sand flying is just a way to keep cool
and moist as the sun beats down.)
It's an amazing sight.
a bit smelly,
Stop by sometime, especially if you ever get the chance to visit San Simeon,
the Hearst castle on the hill.
This beach is just below there.
These are faces perhaps only a mother could love.
But to tell you the truth,
I think they're kinda cute.
In a strangely alarming sort of way.