Half an hour ago, approaching the seaside village of Cambria, we read a sign: "Highway 1 closed". Shervin, though hesitant, kept driving anyway for the sign was annoyingly vague. "Highway closed at insert-name-of-town-here" would have been more helpful.
At Ragged Point Inn, San Simeon, we parked and Shervin asked the convenience store attendant about it after filling up our tank. She confirmed that the highway is indeed closed at some part of Big Sur, and that we had to backtrack a whopping 150 miles.
Back in the car, Shervin said "Bad news, we gotta drive 150 miles to the next exit for our detour. Sorry you gotta deal with Luna (who hates being strapped in the infant seat) longer than expected." - which may have actually been "Darn, we wasted all that petrol?!". But hey, the coast where we cruised along had such gorgeous views, we never considered the drive as a waste of petrol nor time.
On our way back, Luna's tantrum finally died down. The cue for my siesta. As I was about to doze off, I caught a millisecond glimpse of a beach filled with seals. I jolted up and blinked my eyes so hard 'til they hurt. "I think I saw seals", I blurted out. Then I remembered an unassuming signage I saw earlier that says "elephant seals observation deck", or something to that effect. So it could be for real.
I hung my head out the window to get a better view of the beach. When I saw seals again, I pleaded for Shervin to hurriedly pull over, whether it was allowed or not. He panicked. Well, you know, when I'm too excited I get all crazy and loud and I jump (imagine how I did that in the car!). Luckily, a parking lot adjacent to an actual observation boardwalk was just meters ahead.
Only three other cars were parked there. As I stepped out of the car, I can understand why. The wind was blistering cold even though it was mid-spring, bordering unbearable. We agreed to keep the little one in the car, which meant us taking turns in walking to and fro the boardwalk.
If only I wasn't so giddy about watching elephant seals in their natural habitat (or trying to find an awesome side trip to justify our long drive to nowhere), I would have just stayed in the vehicle too. I think it's also worth mentioning that the smell of seals can be an affront to the senses (or was it just the scent of the sea?). It slightly put me off, but since admission is free, I gave it a go.
Truth be told, I knew nothing about elephant seals, except that they're hunted for their oil. As I entered the boardwalk, I took a brochure and browsed it, my freezing brain struggled as it ingested the info. There were a few facts mentioned (which I wouldn't lecture you guys on cause you can easily Google stuff anyway), and it was promoting the conservation group Friends of the Elephant Seal.
I was alone on the boardwalk. I smiled as I watched seals emerge from the water, crawl toward the colony and huddle with the others. Some were playing or probably fighting with each other, and a few were making roaring noises. Most of the seals were motionless, and just... chillin'. The whole scene's way better than watching a sea lion show at some zoo or theme park (which you probably will pay a hefty amount for). Best thing is, there won't be any kids around scrambling to be the next one to kiss and shake hands with the seal.
In less than ten minutes, I started walking back to the parking lot. It was Shervin's turn to realize that this accidental side trip's absolutely amazing!
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