Since the GPS couldn't find something generic like "Cayucos tide pools", mom suggested we find the visitor's center in town and ask. The lady there was really helpful and gave us some great directions to a place called Estero Bluffs outside of town and even a printed schedule of the local tides. I had Google'd them already, but the on-line information was much less specific than what she provided. Of course, the REALLY low minus tide was occurring around 2 AM and I love tide pools, but I'm not crawling around on wet rocks in the middle of the night :-) We had to make do with a sort of medium low tide happening mid-afternoon instead.
Unfortunately, by the time we finished at the visitor's center, the entire town had shut down for a Portuguese festival and parade. That meant we were stuck until they re-opened the road LOL. We decided to make the best of it and have lunch and then we grabbed dessert at The Original Brown Butter Cookie Company. Now, I've never had (or even heard of) brown butter cookies but...WOW! Delicious. We left with 3 bags of different flavors to enjoy for the rest of the trip. My favorite were the cinnamon/sugar flavor and the original brown butter/sea salt flavor. Ryan got a chocolate mint flavor.
Finally, the road cleared and we headed out to check out Estero Bluffs.
After parking on the side of Highway 1 and walking about a half mile out over a flat bluff, we reached a cliff trail down to the rocks. The trees at the edge of the bluffs had quite a few Snowy Egrets perched in them, but my photos of them didn't turn out. I think I was still hopped up on sugar from the cookies and my hand was shaking LOL. Above is a shot of the rocks down on the beach. It is technically low tide, but not low enough to really uncover what we wanted to see.
I did find this striped shore crab.
The more I sat and took pictures of him, the more he blew out this foamy, bubble substance from his mouth. Maybe some type of defense mechanism? I couldn't find any information about it in my on-line searches. I put the camera way after this as I needed my hands free for rock climbing and crawling. Keeping up with a 12-year-old boy is challenging sometimes! After we arrived back at the hotel, Ryan announced he wanted to go to the pool (why you would do that when we have the whole ocean across the street is beyond me, but whatever) and mom volunteered to take him so I headed across the street with my camera to see if I could spot anything interesting before it was time to get cleaned up for dinner.
View from the bluff looking south over Moonstone Beach. I hiked along the cliff top trail looking for birds or anything else interesting to photograph. When I saw a group of people stopped still with cameras and cell phones all pointed out to sea and rapidly firing away, I hurried over to see what the fuss was about.
Humpback whales! Feeding just a short distance off shore. The black specks are various sea birds getting in on the feast.
This was tough - every time I'd get the camera focused and zoomed in, the whales would disappear.
Finally, I got this shot with a little bit of its back showing.
And a little bit more...kind of reminds me of photos I've seen that people claim are the Loch Ness monster. I could've gone on watching them forever, but it was time to head out for dinner. As we headed back to the hotel after eating in Cambria, I realized that there was a spectacular sunset happening. I screeched to a halt in the parking lot, left mom to finish parking the car, grabbed my camera and ran across the street to the beach.
Even in Hawaii I haven't gotten sunset pictures like this.
I wish my skills were better as I'm sure a more practiced photographer could have made something really astonishing out of this. I was just happy to see all these unbelievable colors.
I did try different settings and zoom distances to see what would look the best.
I think I'm the most partial to these two where the sun was mostly covered by the incoming marine layer. The colors are more subtle, but there's a greater variety from blues to lavenders, pinks, peaches, oranges and yellows.
This was the only night during the entire trip that we had a sunset like this. They were all pretty, of course, but nothing with this kind of color.
Stay tuned for the next installment - we depart Cambria and head up the coast through Big Sur to Pacific Grove. We have another encounter with the elephant seals, see some amazing coastline and meet some deer.