We arrived in Santa Cruz in the afternoon and cruised along the coast checking out the lifestyles of the local rich and famous and a few of the better known surf breaks.
The weather here was not very good - in fact for the few days we were in Santa Cruz we had quite a lot of rain and wind. No real swell to speak of either so we just relaxed, went for long walks along Brighton Beach.
Our camp was on a cliff overlooking the beach and not long after arriving Suzie spotted something on the beach (amazing given her eyesite!)it turned out to be a juvenile sea lion pup exhausted and washed up on the beach. I guessed that it could not long have weaned and if it was going to survive it needed help.
I raced off to find a ranger and everything was looking encouraging for the little stray. However, what I didn't know was that some very niave people had also spotted it and got so close they scared it to the point where the pup turned around and went back to sea. I can't imagine a happy ending for that little pup and it also brought back some memories of the battles with the fishing industry over sea lion exclusion devices.....
Of interest we also encountered our first brush with fame in Santa Cruz - Jack a self proclaimed Californian Writer / Actor. Neither of us recognised him but he was a nice bloke to chat with who had more than just a twist of eccentricity about him.
We also found a cool pub (the Seabright Brewery) with great beer, good food and live music that reminded me of one of my favourite Aussie bands "Skunkhour".
From Santa Cruz we ambled our way south staying close to the coast and looking for surf. the coast is truly amazing and I am certain we probably drove past some spots that would have been good. But with no local knowledge, no one out and seals everywhere we kept searching. One place I would have happily surfed - a perfect left sheltered from the wind and holding 5-6 feet was off limits and patrolled by armed defence forces. This is actually not uncommon for the Californian coast - where beach access is not guaranteed or free. Most beaches are State beaches and a entry fee is required, while the military pressence is quite obvious almost everywhere due to military bases dotted along the coast.
Along the way we had a close encounter with some Californian Condors on the wing. Quite a special experience as they are endangered and also very spectacular birds. Massive is another word with a wing span of 11 feet and a bright pink bald head.
Our search for surf took us through Big Sur, Morro Bay and Santa Barbara. It was this last place where I finally got wet - a place called El Capitan. The wave was only small 2-4 feet but just perfect.
(foot note from Suzie) Tim checked out this break when we arrived & came back to collect board etc & suggested I come down the beach to watch. he assured me there was a nice beach to sit on with good viewing. well yep it was a great spot for viewing but the beautiful beach turned out to be rocks & nothing but rocks - oh that was after a creek crossing & 1 mile trek.
Yeah what ever, what people really want to know is the break rolled along a shallow point for up to 400m and had a great barrel section. I surfed for about four hours and scratched my itch. With that out of the way (I think that is what Suzie thought by this stage?!?!) We headed for LA, in particular Malibu. For details see the next entry.