Charlene and I took our first vacation in 2 years by driving down from San Francisco to Carmel Valley which is about 8 miles east of Carmel. Using Airbnb, we found a cabin designed in 1929 by Charles Greene. It sits beneath a pre-colombian coastal oak that must have had a 6 ft diameter trunk. Located ten miles from Carmel Valley Village on Cachagua Rd, we stayed for 6 nights.
Here are interior views… (click on any image for full size view)
We had a great relaxing time and highly recommend the cabin for anyone looking for a get-away spot.
Now on to what we saw on the trip…
Just outside of the cabin we had Black Phoebe’s and Hermit Thrushes…
We spent the first day of vacation at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see the special exhibit Tentacles (squid, octopi, cuttlefish) and stayed to see the all the exhibits at the aquarium.
Here are the highlights of that trip…
Tentacles starts with their influence in art and literature; shown here is a copy of a drawing done by H.P. Lovecraft of his statue of Chthulu…
And here is a modern octopus bronze sculpture.
an oil on board painting called “Contessa with Squid” by Omar Rayyan 2011
Bigfin reef squid, one of my favorite tanks…
One of the few times I have seen a active octopus, this one went for a walk around its tank before sliding back into its jar.The jelly exhibit is still a popular attraction, these purple-striped jellies are huge
This one is called a blubber jelly
“Also known as the blue jelly, the blubber jelly comes in colors ranging from very light blue to dark purple and burgundy, and its bell pulses in a distinctive, staccatolike rhythm. Eight club-like oral arms that each contain several mouths transport food to the jelly’s stomach.” October and November are great times to view the migrating Monarch butterflies that come to Pacific Grove. So the next day we drove into Pacific Grove to 250 Ridge Road. There were docents there with a spotting scope to help the uninitiated, but we had our binoculars which gave us a better view. They were not there in great numbers quite yet, but we found several trees that were starting to collect them in small numbers and I got some good shots of them feeding on bottle brush tree blossoms and butterfly bush flowers. I was traveling light that day and only had my 24-105mm lens on my Canon 5D, so most of my shots are cropped quite a bit. I would recommend a zoom that goes to at least 200mm but a 300mm lens or greater would have gotten some great un-cropped shots.
The next day we spent at Pt. Lobos Ecological Preserve which is just a few miles south of Carmel right off of Highway 1. We stopped just before the reserve to sit on the beach at Monastery Beach to enjoy the wave action.
And then we drove a half mile further. It was afternoon and parking in the reserve was full, so we parked on the shoulder of Hwy 1 and walked in. Carrying my 500mm lens and tripod, we elected to go to Whaler’s Cove on the north shore (shortest walk and found about a hundred Heermann’s Gulls resting on the rocks…
(a close-up of three of them)
We also found Black Oystercatchers both days we wentThe highlight of the day for me was the spotting of a female Belted Kingfisher fishing off the cliff just north of Whaler’s Cove.
Here is the small inlet,
the Kingfisher was on the right hand side here…
I got to see her dive twice.
After that we hiked a bit further to view Bluefish Cove…
The white rock in the center had lots of Brandt’s Cormorants on it…
And that was it for our first visit to Pt. Lobos.
The next day we decided to return to see the south shore of the reserve. We got another late start but were able to get parking inside the reserve. We arrived just as a light rain squall was coming in off the ocean. This iPhone panoramic shot shows the rain wiping out the horizon and roll clouds stretching across the sky showing that there was turbulence up there. (click on any image to see it full size)
The rain was light and did not last long. We picnicked sitting in our car till it let up.
Once it was clear we hiked along the Bird Island Trail that loops around China Cove. We spotted one decent flock of Brown Pelicans, but none were close by.
The kelp floating on the ocean create living rafts that the birds use to hunt and rest on. We saw Heerman’s Gulls in great numbers along with Great Egrets and even a lone Great Blue HeronOne of the Great Egrets landed on the rocks at eye level. I was able to get a nice sequence of it taking off…
And then it landed just below us.
A Snowy Egret posed across the way…And it too tried fishing from the kelp raftA Western Gull found a crab for lunch.On the way back we found Harbor Seals directly below us. It looks like we are standing right there, but really we were on top of the cliff and the water was 150 feet below us.These shots are the highlights of the vacation, but if you want to see the complete series, check out my This Year’s Photo Diary link at raptor-gallery.com. The pages are dated October 17 through October 20 2014.
By the way, we just saw the opening premier of Judy Irving’s Pelican Dreams documentary and thoroughly enjoyed the film. Check it out if you can. Watch the trailer for it here.
Thanks for looking and of course, comments are always welcome.