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The Elephant Seals at Point Año Nuevo

Last Friday was the husband's and my fourth "23rd" date this year. Recap: Last Christmas, the husband and I gave ourselves a day each month to run away from everything.  We don't do much planning for the date other then determine our destination point the night before so we can tell the mama. We get up the next morning and take off. It's nice being spontaneous at least once a month. I  feel like we're courting each other again on these 23rd dates.

This month's destination was Año Nuevo State Reserve on the coast to see the elephant seals. It's about 20 miles north of Santa Cruz. Since the 1970s, elephant seals go the  reserve's shore every winter to give birth to their babies. Once the cutie-pies are weaned, the adults swim off leaving the kids which wait until they have strength to take off. During the spring and summer, the elephant seals come back to Año Nuevo to molt. Last Friday, we saw both pups and molting adults laying about on the beaches.

Cutie-baby sleeping. You can hear it snoring on the video.
It was about a 3-mile round trip hike to see the seals by the seashore. Right now it's a self-guided trip, but docents hang out at the viewing spots to happily answer questions about the animals and the area. One docent even let me go home with a year-old sample of molten elephant seal skin. I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet. Anyway, during the birthing season, the only way you can view the elephant seals is with a ranger.

Sitting across the way is a little island on which sits an abandoned lighthouse keeper's house. Sea lions call it home. Really. Some actually live inside the house. We didn't see or hear any sea lions last week. Randy the docent said that they flock there in the summer. He also told us that the point got its name from the Spanish explorer Viscaino who sighted the point on January 3, 1603. From Monterey, I suppose, because he and his crew never landed at the point. Viscaino was on a mission to find  a place where the Spanish galleon trade ships sailing from the Philippines could rest and repair themselves before heading south to Acapulco.

For more info about the park and elephant seals, check out these links:
Here's a video of the sleeping babes. This video doesn't really do the elephant seals justice. You've got to see 'em for yourselves.

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