Friday, November 14, 2008

Elephant Seals and Bull Horns

Tuesday afternoon we went down to Santa Cruz. Tom, Jay and their friend Peterson rode a four-hour mountain bike trail down to the coast, and we met them at the beach with a support vehicle and a change of clothes. While we waited for them to get there, we took a hike in the Ano Nuevo state park to see the young elephant seals congregating there.

"We've got about 200 animals right now!" said a very excited park ranger who obviously LOVED his job, and come January when all the big dogs come in from sea, he said they'll have about 6,000 elephant seals, some almost as big as the conversion van we were driving, crowding the beach for a long way down the coast. Apparently this is one of only two spots in North America where the elephant seals come ashore, so it's a pretty cool thing that we got to see them. We had to hike in a couple of miles to the north point to get to them, at the furthest end of the trail, but the guide made up for it by taking us in really close.

They were soft and fuzzy-looking, with cute little whiskered faces like our pup-dog Greta (r.i.p.). Some were playing in the water, and the rest were making really funny snoring/sneezing sounds as they snoozed on the beach.

Then we toured a bamboo bike workshop, where they're building bikes out of materials readily available elsewhere in the world. (This bull horn cruiser, though mostly made of bamboo, is not typical of the ones they're making in Africa - it was just a fun side project that turned out pretty cool and we all had to take it for a spin.)

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