Pacific Coast Highway : Part 1

by Kaylah Stroup

After Morro Bay we continued up the Pacific Coast Highway. The further we got, the more I fell in love. Is it okay to admit that I wasn’t impressed with the coast until this point? Because I wasn’t. Maybe we just weren’t hitting the right spots, or maybe it just differed so much from my expectations that I wasn’t into it. This stop though, at William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach, won my heart. The temperature was cool, it was foggy out, and the water was the most beautiful color. I could have stayed here for days.

A short drive up the road from there is Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. We saw signs for it, and it was on Roadside America but I was not prepared. I assumed there was a chance we might see some elephant seals there. I didn’t realize the beach would just be covered in them. I have never seen in elephant seal in person so needless to say I was captivated. These puppies are maaaaassive. Males can grow 14-16 feet in length and be 3000-5000 pounds. They’re also very loud, and very smelly. Totally worth the stank to see these beasts cuddled up on the beach together. I loved watching them. I ooooh-ed and awww-ed as they played and just about lost my mind over how cute they were when they used their silly little flippers to flip sand on themselves. (You can spot one doing that in the second photo down. Right in front of the flowers.)

The elephant seals were really awesome but the squirrels at this stop stole my heart. I noticed them as soon as we got out of the car. I was excited to get a nice close shot of one of them with my 100mm lens. Then all of a sudden one of these little cuties runs right up to me. There were signs not to feed the wildlife but I figured picking something off the ground that someone else had already tried giving them as a way to lure them in was a nice little loophole I could use and not feel guilty.

As I’m squatting there, trying to photograph and love on squirrels, an older couple comes up to me inquiring where the elephant seals were. In the middle of their sentence a squirrel just jumps into my lap. I immediately started looking at the squirrel, looking at them, looking at the squirrel, looking at them – trying to get these people to notice. They either noticed and didn’t think it was interesting or they somehow did not see this incredible thing happen. As soon as they walked away I managed to get Jeff’s attention and he snapped a really cute shot of this squirrel sitting on my lap. I got one too, you can see it here! As soon as the squirrel hopped down I burst into tears. Yes, literally. I’m an emotional person, whatever. It made my day. Shoot, it made my month. I’m still over the moon. My sister-in-law was asking me about the trip and what my favorite part was. Without even thinking I blurted out “SQUIRRELS!” Haha. California, I love your squirrels. Even if I didn’t fall stupid in love with the state I would come back just for the squirrels.

We made a stop just down the road from the elephant seal rookery to shoot the fog on the road. I feel like the above photo of our rental car might be a little out of place in the post of cute animals, and the ocean but you gotta admit, it’s a pretty sweet shot. I’m not sure why but I was so fond of that little car.

You can find more posts from our road trip under the “travel” tag.

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