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South Pacific Coast Highway - Route 1

Paradise Cove

This section of Rte 1 is located north of Malibu, the surfer's paradise. The winds all up the coast were high, causing the surf to be ideal; lots of surfers were seen. Also near Malibu, an essential stop for a seafood dinner is the Paradise Cove, "Bob Morris's Beach Cafe". This was a regular stop for the NASA Cleveland gang on business trips to LA. It was/is a stop for famous movie stars and others as can be seen from the photos and letters in the lobby.

Channel Islands National Park

After a nice dinner at Paradise Cove, I stayed the night, 25-Jan, at the Channel Islands Inn in Oxnard. I was hoping to get to the Channel Islands National Park, but the boat and park schedules didn't work. There is also culling of feral pigs on Santa Cruz so camping there was not allowed. I did get a chance to visit the mainland Vistor's Center for the Channel Islands National Park - well worth the visit! The crab is only about the size of a silver dollar, and is part of a tide pool exhibit.
I drove up through Ventura to Santa Barbara enjoying these beautiful sea coast cities.

Old Mission of Santa Barbara

My next stop was the Old Mission of Santa Barbara, one of 21 missions up the California coast, many founded by Fr. Junipero Serra in the late 1700s. Here is a map of the missions and a view of the land surrounding the Mission at Santa Barbara - very pretty area. The Missions web page, map and history can be viewed by clicking here In the lobby of the gift shop was this intriguing collection of brass bells from each of the missions, plus larger bells from San Xavier del Bac in Tucson. I purchased a patina covered bell for Mission San Juan Capistrano where Maria and I had been. I was extremely fortunate to meet the artist, Fr. Nevin Ford, OFM! This is a wonderful and creative man who taught art for many years and who has created sculptures, stained glass, mosaics and more. He gave me an extensive tour of his workshop, and outside, the Stations of the Cross that he made. He is currently working on a large Holy Family piece for Mel Gibson, another fine, conservative Catholic! Here is a close up of Fr. Ford's mosaics for Stations 8 & 9. The Stations are arranged so that the height increases to Station 12, then decreases again for the last two. I am surprised that Fr. Ford is not better known! If you would like info on his work, he can be contacted at: Fr. Nevin Ford, O.F.M. Old Mission Santa Barbara 2201 Laguna St. Santa Barbara, CA 93105
In order to get an early start for butterflies, herons, and seals the next day, I stayed overnight, on 26-January, at an Econo Lodge in Arroyo Grande near Pismo Beach.

Monarch Winter Site, Pismo Beach

Near the N. Pismo Beach Campground is a site where the Monarch butterflies winter over from their migration down from Canada. There are several of these sites in California; not all in Mexico as I had thought. The site consists of a few groves of Eucalyptus trees. The Eucalyptus is all over CA; it is an invasive species from New Zealand. Originally they stayed in pines, but for the last 100 years, the Eucalyptus. Here a Monarch shakes its wings to warm up in the morning light. Looking like a mass of dead leaves, they would be easy to miss! On the left, a far shot; on the right, a close up. The surrounding dunes are quite beautiful as is the beach!

Blue Heron Rookery, Morro Bay

Accessed through the parking lot of "The Inn at Morro Bay", it is possible to see several dozen nests and birds. A warning sign to stay out of the fenced in Eucalyptus grove and a view down the beach from the grove. Notice the nests in the photo on left. They look like collections of leaves and sticks very high in the trees. A close up on the right helps!

Elephant Seals, San Simeon

Many of the small beaches in this area are used by pinnipeds (several species of seals) to mate and give birth. At this season, the pups were just being born. This beach is 4.4 miles north of the entrance to Hearst Castle. Males claim an area of the beach and are joined by a harem of females. They flip sand up on themselves to prevent sunburn! Most seals dive to approximately 500 feet. The elephant seal can dive to 5000 feet! Driving further up the coast, I pulled off to take some more photos. What you see here is about a tenth of all the photos taken! This stop included access to the water. Two young (~ 10 year olds) gals had found a lone elephant seal male in the cove around the big rock. After stepping over rocks, getting my feet wet, I got these two great closeup photos. I had to be very careful lest I wake him up; but he was snoring like a baby!
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