It's That Time Of The Year - Again
Some of you will be looking for something to do with your kids this long Martin Luther King holiday weekend, so here's my annual suggestion for you... Jump in the car and motor on up to the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal colony for an experience you and your kids will NEVER forget.
PIEDRAS BLANCAS ELEPHANT SEALS ARE WAITING
I've written about this experience several times in the past, HERE, HERE and HERE. I won't repeat all I've previously written except to say that each of you should find a way to visit that venue at this time of the year. Now is Prime Time - baby elephant seals are popping out like Pez, males are fighting over mating rights and there is now mating going on before your very eyes.
THE PERFECT WEEKEND TRIP
The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal colony is located on Highway 1, approximately 50 miles north of San Luis Obispo. It's 4 miles north of Hearst Castle, which is another venue you could visit on this long weekend. The drive north along Highway 101 will take you through Santa Barbara - a perfect place for lunch. Once you turn onto Highway 1 at San Luis Obispo you'll pass through Morro Bay, Cayucos, Cambria and San Simeon before reaching the colony. Each little community offers much to visitors in the way of food and shopping and glorious vistas. Each offers affordable accommodations, too.
INCLUDE HEARST CASTLE IN YOUR ITINERARY
Of course, Hearst Castle - 4 miles south of the colony - is a great place to stop, visit the gift shop, see the museum, grab a snack and use the restroom. If you want to take a tour of the castle, I highly recommend including the docu-drama about the construction of the castle shown in the IMAX theater on site. It really enhances any castle visit.
SAFE, EASY VIEWING
The elephant seal viewing site now has two large parking lots right along the highway and two boardwalks from which you can safely stand and look down on the elephant seal extravaganza only a few feet away. You'll find helpful docents, members of the Friends of the Elephant Seal, on site to answer questions and enhance your visit. Look for the smiling folks in the blue windbreakers.
OTHER CRITTERS, TOO
If you're lucky you'll see a birth or two during your visit. And, because of the location of this colony, you'll likely also see otters, Harbor seals, Stellar Sea Lions, and perhaps some dolphins and whales cruising past. Heck, you might even see some of the Hearst Ranch zebras as you approach the castle.
The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal colony is the fastest growing colony in the world! Approximately 17,000 elephant seals visit this site each year - twice - following long ocean voyages - up to 5,000 miles - where they forage for food and fatten themselves up. The pups, which weigh between 60 - 80 pounds at birth, nurse for almost a month, gaining 10 pounds a day! That's right! And the mother will lose about 20 pounds a day during that time. By the time the pups are weaned they will weigh 350 pounds or more.
BIG GUYS FIGHTING
On the other end of the spectrum, the largest males weigh around 5,000 pounds - as much as your Suburban! Since none of the elephant seals eat during their visit to the rookery, living on stored fat, the big guys will drop around one third of their body weight before they depart in a couple months. You'll almost certainly see the big guys fighting - raising up, chest-to-chest, and slamming each other with their prodigious teeth - trying to defend a harem of anywhere from 10-50 females.
IT'S WORTH THE DRIVE...
Plan a trip to the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal colony this weekend, or anytime between now and the beginning of March. The last four years more than 4,000 pups were born to this colony, so it's quite a show. Give yourself a treat - jump in your car for a trip to California's most pristine stretch of coastline for an experience you'll never forget. For more information visit the web site for the Friends Of The Elephant Seal, HERE.