Elkhorn Slough Safari

Elkhorn Slough Sea Otter

This is our last day in Monterey. Tomorrow, we hit the road again. We began our day with a boat ride, a three-hour tour as they say, just me and my little buddy. She hates it when I call her that. I guess that she is just not the Gilligan’s Island fan that I am. Well, the weather did not start getting rough. In fact the water was as smooth as glass. We launched in our mighty yacht, a pontoon boat that was full to the gills with our fellow passengers. The real skipper and his naturalist “little” buddy, were our hosts. We departed the marina at Moss Landing and headed up into the slough.

Our tour actually began as soon as we shoved off from dock. Sealions were slow-motion pirouetting, with at least one fin extended out-of-the-water, a means of regulating their body temperature. Other sealions were out of the water, drooped along the docks of less fortunate boat owners. Being an up to 500 pound protected marine mammal, with sharp canines, can make it difficult to walkaround them on the narrow walks. Owners have to wrap their boats in plastic orange fencing, just to keep them off their vessels. They have been know to pile onto unfortunate’s boats and sink them under their combined weight.

The Sea Otters also first appeared in harbor, but their really big rafts were up the slough. That is also were we saw the babies. There were also harbor seals, but they were all up in the slough. Then there were the birds. Most numerous were cormorants and pelicans, but there were also grebes, terns, egrets and herons. It was so calm that the skipper ventured out into Monterey Bay, not part of the usual program. I think the threat of wake wash from one of the passing whale tour boats brought our captain back to his senses. At the end, they like to give you a tally of what you saw. Kind of validation for your tour fee. Their count included well over a hundred sealions, 85 sea otters, including nine babies, a hundred harbor seals and seventeen different species of birds.

Afterwards, while we were lunching at Phil’s fish house, we reviewed our personal count. We didn’t quibble with the individual mammal counts that was beyond us, but we couldn’t come up with seventeen types of birds. But I guess if you did this tour everyday, then maybe your eye would be sharper than mine.

Lazy Monterey Days

White Harbor Seal Napping at Low Tide

A little down time was in order, although we did get out on Sunday. We went to Asilomar and by luck caught the beach at low tide. Chris flew his drone and Anne and I did some tide pooling. We later decamped to Lovers Point, just to get the full Monterey tourist experience. Finally, we stopped at In-N-Out Burger for lunch. It was mobbed, but the food was really good. I guess the two are related. I had some problems getting out of the parking lot though, a shuttle bus had parked me in, but Chris got it to move. All-in-all it was a better experience than Dave had on his last trip to In-N-Out. At least the car wasn’t broken into.

For dinner, Dad made Mom’s stuffed peppers and they were delicious. We also watched the last Ms. Fisher episode. It was hot, with no wind, but not quite Death Valley hot. Afterwards, Chris took pictures of Monterey spread out below us, from one of the house’s balconies, on this evening with a gorgeous sunset.

Monday morning dawned bright and early. I took the Prius into the dealer for an oil change and Anne accompanied me to do laundry. Kind of a plebeian day, but with so many days on the road, housekeeping chores become part of the holiday regime. In the dealership waiting room, I filled in the next hole in our itinerary’s accommodations. This hiatus in Monterey has been a welcome relief from the rigors of the road, but now, I need to get back on the road again. I’m channeling Willie Nelson here. After all, we’re only halfway done with this epic road trip.


Carmel Valley

We were checking out at Safeway and the couple behind us were commenting about Chip Gaines of Fixer Upper fame, who is now on the cover of People magazine, with the tag line, “My kids made me a better man.” They seemed somewhat skeptical of this assertion, but what really caught my notice were their accents. They were Australian. I assumed that they were just visiting, but they live in Carmel. We commiserated about the impending golf deluge and we got to regale them with the exploits of our sons. Of which they were suitably impressed, but before long, I was holding up the line and we had to move on.

Chris and my Dad are big fans of British murder mystery TV shows and their current favorite is another Australian import, Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries. This is a spin-off of the popular, similarly named mystery series, Miss Fisher. That show was set in 1920s, while this new one is set in the sixties. A niece of the original Miss Fisher carries on the crime solving. I especially love the series’ campy recreation of 1960s pop culture television. The heroine is always galavanting around in her James Bond style Austin Martin convertable and and her wild, beautiful, but completely impractical for crime fighting outfits. Interestingly, each episode features exactly two murders. So, not only do you get to guess who did it, you frequently you also get to guess who’s next.