Along the Coastline (CA-1) and Channel Island National Park, CA

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From San Francisco to Los Angeles. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and that's Interstate 5. Or you can go from the somewhat more curvy 101, hoping to avoid heavy traffic and 18 wheelers. The longest, the most scenic, and the most exciting route, however, is Highway 1 along the coastline. It wasn't a typical sunny California day, when we cruised south along the Pacific coast in December (2006). Under the cloudy sky, the cool sea breeze from the Pacific seems particularly misty.

The most famous segment is probably the Big Sur area south of Monterey. Green forest, dangerous-looking cliffs, and the blue pacific ocean.

The rocky reefs.

Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris) are often spotted along the coastline. The largest and heaviest seal, the elephant seal is named for the large extended snout in male, which resemble the trunk of an elephant. Their gigantic sizes, which can reach 18 ft (5.5m) and 5,000 lbs (2.2 tons), might also have contributed to the name.

The "trunks" of male elephant seal is actually an inflatable sexual display (hey, have a scientific attitude!). Inflated by blood pressure and muscular movement, it helps the males with their mating calls as well as challenge roars to other males. More interesting facts: elephant seals are diving champs among mammals. They can dive as deep as 1 miles for 2 long hours.

Some close up.


Channel Island National Park. Consists of five islands off the Pacific coast, southwest of Los Angeles. Tour boat is available from Ventura port. It wasn't the best time when we visited in December, when the sea was rough and vegetation withered, so we visited only the Santa Cruz Island.

It always excites me to see the remnant of early attempts of the pioneers to bring agriculture to these isolated island.

A hike on the island.

A walk on the beach, watch the Kelp forest under water (last pic).


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