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New place, new people, new animals!

September 19, 2011

This summer has been on the run. A big freelance-job landed in my lap and I spent July waking up early and interviewing researchers on the east coast before heading to work, training my replacement, and sleeping on friends’ couches. Yup. I moved out of the apartment right before labor day weekend and hopped between houses for June and July. Q and I took some time together and went to Calabria, Italy in the early part of August. I then landed back home for the rest of August, caught up with a good friend, cooked with the family, and slept in. Last week my Mom flew back to the west coast with me and we took a road trip up highway 1 from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz. I’m now settling into my new digs in Surf City and starting the Science Communication program at UCSC on Tuesday. Oh boy.

The trip up was fantastic. California’s central coast overflows with sea life and beauty. I’m in love and must share some photos.

Point Dume State beach in Malibu. A beautiful place. The promontory is the remains of an ancient volcano.

We climbed up the cliff, the path took us winding through wonderful smelling native brush.

Yellow flower on the point.

Brown pelican soaring. Mom now dubs all motorcyclists ‘pelicans’ for their tendency to cruise in groups and make sweeping turns.

Looking north to Malibu, swanky mansion on the cliff.

Elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Light. The Friends of the Elephant Seals volunteer told us that the seals lounging now are in serious relaxation mode. Mating season is from December to

Oh their faces are so cute.

The coast was shrouded in ocean mist all through Big Sur, but still we enjoyed the beauty.

A path by the side of the road invited us to stop and take a walk…

This is what happens when a girl accustomed to the ocean of LA goes north. You may all laugh now.

Bird in the brush at Point Lobos State Reserve, a beautiful and highly accessible park full to the brim with wildlife.

Looks stormy, but it was fantastic. We spent time scouring the kelp beds for sea otters, no sightings there, but still a beautiful place and well worth the visit.

We were lucky to spot a young buck Black-tailed Deer. The trees, lichen, and grass made us feel like we were entering Lothlorien. Lichen is created by a symbiotic relationship between algae, which produces food, and a fungus, which provides framework. Deer like to eat the lichen and birds use it for nest material.

The path took us through one of two naturally growing stands of Monterey Cypress trees remaining on earth (according to the brochure).The trees were hung with lace lichen and an orange colored green algae (is that an oxymoron?).

Sea colors. Two different kinds of rock make up Point Lobos. The Santa Lucia granite makes up the north shore, while here we see the Carmelo Formation, a sedimentary rock at least 55 million years old. Wave action and weather have shaped these rocks into deep inlets.

Another Black-tailed Deer, this one a doe, nonchalantly grazing as we stared only 10 feet away.

Those rocks are covered with Barking California Sea Lions, dutifully earning their name. The churning stretch of ocean in front of the rocks is called Devil’s Cauldron.


























































The trip was great. I love this part of the world already and am starting to settle into my new home. This past weekend I met a good number of my fellow SciComm students for the first time. We took a walk through redwoods great and tall. I’m nervous and excited and tied up in knots and class starts tomorrow. Here we go.

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