burgers and seals

Today my daughter KB, who’s seven (and a half!) asked me how long we were going to be on our road trip. I told her as long as we were having fun. She replied

But then we’ll be gone a hundred million years. Because every day is fun when we’re traveling.

That was the best thing she’s ever said. Even better than Mommy I love you, which pretty much only occurs after I give her something sweet or help her put the correct WI-FI password into her iPad.

She and I have been on a number of trips together, and she has always been a great traveler. She flew with me and her dad when she was about 8 months old, and drove across the country (and back) with us when she was four. One time I packed her in the car and drove straight through to Halifax, Nova Scotia from Montreal, Quebec, a 14 hour expedition (I drank a lot of coffee that day).


Mother-daughter road trip day one

So, we’ve kindof gotten our rhythm down, which just makes traveling together all the more fun. This is our squeeze every last drop out of summer tour that will take us around Central and Southern California. I’m loosely planning a 10-14 day trip based on our tiredness levels.

Today we only logged a bit over 80 miles which shocked me because I felt like I drove a lot. Partially it’s due to the nature of the twists and turns of highway one, especially driving a stick. But moreso it’s due to the fact that we stopped to hike and play at the beach for several hours at a time.

Our first stop was Año Nuevo State Park in Pescadero, home to a colony of elephant seals. KB has a reputation for throwing tantrums during hikes, so when I realized it would be a three mile walk round-trip, did I worry? Hell no. She’s gonna have to get used to hiking. She did a great job, too. So great in fact that I bought her both ice cream and a cookie in Santa Cruz.

We were excited to see the elephant seals, an animal hunted to near-extinction less than two hundred years ago, but today numbering over 100,000 individuals in California. They have a huge proboscis on their heads, which is reminiscent of an elephant’s truck, and is the reason behind their name.

As we walked down the path, we could steadily hear the creatures’ wailing become louder and louder. We kept thinking they would be just around the corner, only to be presented with more trail. I taught KB the word taunt. Finally, we arrive at the beach… only to realize the seals are so far away you can only see them with binoculars! The Park itself provides a great telescope, and a guide was present who was very informative and friendly. So, it was a good time, despite being a slight letdown. (If you have the energy to add another mile to your trip you can get closer.)

Ano Nuevo State Park, California

A brilliant day at the beach

Ano Nuevo Park, California

I really think this sign is misleading!

Elephant seals from afar, Ano Nuevo Park, California

Elephant seals from afar

Elephant seals, Ano Nuevo Park, California

Same image, with zoom

Jack's burgers, Santa Cruz, California

After leaving the park, we were both very hungry. (I’m terrible at the bring-snacks-everywhere model of motherhood. As my friend Amy can testify to, I also often forget to bring water.) After consulting YELP, we chose Jack’s burgers in Santa Cruz. I’m not sure if it’s because we were so hungry or whether our opinions are well-deserved, but both KB and I found ourselves saying this might be the best burger I’ve ever had.

We randomly hit the restaurant during their special from 3-4pm where you get half off the second burger and fries. So it ended up being a total of about $9 for both of us, not bad considering the quality. It was the perfect meal and setting after a day of hiking with a little one.