OK, one last catch-up post! A few days before Thanksgiving, Paul and I drove down to San Francisco to explore that city for the first time. Just like people say, it's a very cool place, and we had a great time. On the way back up north, we decided to visit Point Reyes National Seashore, and that turned out to be one of the best parts of the trip. We drove miles and miles off the highway, into what seemed increasingly like the middle of nowhere. And it was raining. A lot. We figured even with the downpour, we might drive up to an overlook, maybe hop out of the car for a few seconds to look around, then head back to the highway. But somehow, as we crossed into to the park, the rain stopped, and even the clouds went away! It was still very cold and very windy (somehow we always end up at the top of high windy spots during our vacations...) but we actually got to explore, and we saw lots of awesome things.
Let's start with the mammals. A bunch of Elephant Seals were hauled out on a beach where they apparently return every year to breed. I've certainly never seen these big creatures before, and I don't know when I'll get a chance to see them again; very cool:
None of the monstrous adult males were present, but the females and younger seals were strange enough, with their pointy noses and loud blubbery calls. A couple of seals were tussling in the water near where we stood on the cliff (territorial or amorous, I don't know!):
There was plenty of motion on the beach, too. Look at all the funny noses!
The seals took turns complaining loudly:
As we drove on through the park toward the actual point, a few other big mammals showed up as well. Black-tailed Deer (a subspecies of Mule Deer, it seems) watched us from fields near the road:
This male Black-tailed Deer was looking very impressive indeed:
He ambled across the road in front of us and joined two females nearby:
Just a little ways past the deer, we were surprised to see another creature in the road:
Coyote! I was worried that this creature was injured, but it got up and walked away when our car passed.... Hopefully the coyote was just relaxing on the warm pavement (although this is definitely not a safe place to doze). Injured or not, our car inched very close to this creature before it finally moved on, and it was amazing to see this guy (or girl) up close:
So dog-like, and also not:
Be comfortable, coyote, but don't rest here too long:
The bird life on Point Reyes was similarly amazing. A flock of young Western Meadowlarks foraged next to the road:
And I met two totally new birds in the alien landscape on the very top of the point. (And I should say, standing in that place felt like being at the edge of the world, with all the buffeting winds and ocean on every side. It was incredible.) First, there was a Say's Phoebe (yes, that's the ocean in the background):
Then a Rock Wren (is that a skull?):
The park was also a haven for raptors. A tiny American Kestrel perched on a little rock ledge near the road:
And we saw many Red-tailed Hawks, including this rather damp individual early in our visit:
The coolest views of Red-tailed Hawks, though, were when we were high up on the point and saw these creatures soaring practically at eye level:
The wind was so strong that the hawks were barely moving; they seemed more like tethered kites floating in the air. What an awesome sight:
Oh yeah, and the views from the point were incredible. Goodness, what a place:
There are so many amazing places in northern California. I just need to see as much as I can while I'm living here!