Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Driving Down the West Coast: Big Sur and San Simeon
Most of the 3 million tourists each year never leave Highway 1, because the mountain range is one of the largest roadless areas near a coast in the contiguous United States. The highway winds along the western flank of the mountains mostly within sight of the Pacific Ocean, varying from near sea level up to a thousand-foot sheer drop to the water and as such, gazing at the views while driving is inadvisable. During a looooong stretch, I nervously held on to my seat as the RV (Star) is much higher than a car. Every five minutes or so I pleaded with Bill to slow down as he drove at 10 mph!
When we reached the end I heaved a big sigh of relief!!!!! But I never expected the big reward waiting for us at the town of San Simeon…thousands of mostly immovable huge animals lying on the beach! It is the largest elephant seal rookery on the West Coast, located just south of the 105-foot 10½-inch Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. Elephant seals are large oceangoing seals. Its two species were both hunted to the brink of extinction by the end of the nineteenth century, but numbers have since recovered and the northern species have chosen the Pacific coast of the US, Canada, and Mexico for mating.