Wednesday, January 30, 2002


Yesterday we got the results of the blood tests for Mitzi and Astra : two 'fails'. Neither of them had managed to produce the necessary levels of rabies antibody that would allow us to apply for their transport home. Sheesh! How hard can it be?! So anyway, we've had a stern word with them both - told Astra to stop worrying about chasing mice, told Mitzi to stop planning her next escape from the backyard - and pleaded with them to get on with producing antibodies! Our vet was very sympathetic. She even went as far as to inject Astra's rabies booster "near her brain" so that Astra could "think hard about producing antibodies". Mitzi, however, received her shot nearer her rear, which was either the vet's best guess as to where Mitzi's brains predominantly reside or a statement of the futility of attempting to otherwise locate them. Either way, it's evident that the vet's training has allowed her to develop finely tuned observational skills.

So we're going to be here for a while yet ...

Time to catch up on another of our day trips. Today :

Año Nuevo State Park - Jan 14

Año Nuevo State Park is situated on the coast, about an hour and a half from where we live. It's a popular attraction at this time of year, despite the fact that the weather is apt to be unfavourable. We visited on a weekday, and still the carpark was heathily populated and there were queues for the toilets. Arriving over an hour before our scheduled tour gave us enough time to collect our tickets, thaw out under the visitors' centre's enormous gas heaters, wander through an exhibition boasting stuffed versions of a variety of creatures we were unlikely to encounter on our journey but which were nevertheless apparently found in the nearby area, eat lunch and then return for one final review of the exhibition. Our second visit to the exhibition allowed us to concentrate on the displays pertaining to the day's celebrity creatures : Elephant Seals.

The shot at left is of two female Elephant Seals fighting over their recently born pups. Though it's difficult to be entirely clear on this point, it seemed to Debbie and I that the tiff was caused by one of the pups wandering over to the wrong Mum - not a particularly hard thing to do, I'd suggest, as one hessian-coloured blubbery mass tends to look like another. Anyway, it seemed to end amicably, though I'm not sure either Mum will be inviting the other over for Tuna Scones and Seaweed Tea anytime soon.

These in-the-wild Elephant Seals showed the same level of activity as the Sea Lions at Pier 39 - that is, virtually none. It must be days before one of the docents twigs that a particular Elephant Seal has flipped its last flipper ...

Though you can't see it in the photo, there's an island a couple of kilometres from the beach on which these Elephant Seals live. This island was once inhabited by the lighthousekeeper and his family and is replete with a now-fallen lighthouse tower and the remnants of a two-storey home. The house is now home to a colony of Sea Lions who, because of their rotatable flippers - a characteristic not shared by the neighbouring Elephant Seals - are able to climb and make full use of both storeys of the house. I wonder if the Sea Lions occasionally invite the Elephant Seals over to stay "in the house", reassuring the Elephant Seals that "it's OK, the guest rooms are downstairs". But then, maybe that's just me.

Getting to the Elephant Seals required a walk of about 30 minutes, the latter parts of which required the fairly arduous climbing of some sandhills. Prior to tackling these sandhills, we were to meet up with our guide for the day. The second photo here is taken from the Staging Area where we met our guide and is a shot looking back to the visitors' centre which is centre of frame. I like this shot a lot even though it breaks a lot of compositional "rules" (the small version here really doesn't do it justice ... honestly ...)

Our guide was an interesting character who made up for any lack of content by the clever tactic of repetition. But he was nice enough and obviously enjoyed what he was doing, leaving us with what is probably the world's only earthquake joke viz. Q: What did one earthquake say to the other? A: It wasn't my fault!

Originally posted by TC

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