Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm back from San Simeon.

The rain was worse than I expected, on the way up. While creeping along on the freeway at 40 mph, due to puddles on the pavement, poor visibility, and strong winds, I thought, this is insane. No one works outdoors in this weather. When I reached the bluff, the rain had just stopped. The sun even came out, by the end of my shift. My luck held on Tuesday; the rain stopped before my shift started, and didn't resume until I was safely indoors.

It couldn't last. On Wednesday, I was woken, hours before dawn, by thunder and lightning. I made myself a cup of coffee, and drank it in the pitch dark after the power went out. At dawn, I was faced with a choice. Since the heat was electric, and the windows were old-fashioned uninsulated glass, I could sit in the dark and be warm, or open the drapes and let the heat out. I put on woolen socks and a sweatshirt over my jammies, and opened the drapes. Both cell phones and land lines were out of order, so I was as isolated as I needed to be.

I started knitting as soon as I could see the yarn. I apparently didn't see it well enough; I tinked out two rows and re-did them as soon as I could see the yarn well enough to fix my mistakes. I thought about going home, as I'm not crazy enough to stand outdoors in a lightning storm, but I remembered my luck of the previous two days, and decided to give the weather a chance to moderate. Nope: when my shift started, the rain was "falling" horizontally, propelled by winds I'd estimate at 70-100 mph. I did go to the bluff briefly, just so I could report back on the conditions I found there.

The beach at the north end of the viewing area had been badly eroded since the storm started, with the surf reaching all the way to the cliffs. Since elephant seal pups can't swim until they're three months old, this meant that all the pups on the north beach were doomed. Even on Wednesday, at the height of the storm, a dozen or more held on among the rocks, sheltered by their moms. On the south beach, which was itself reduced to 1/3 of its original width, elephant seal life went on as usual. Moms were giving birth and nursing their pups, pups were yelling for food, and adult males jockeyed for position.

The drive home was even more challenging than the drive up. Parts of the highway featured near white-out conditions. I arrived home exactly as tired as I usually do when I drive home from Astoria in one straight shot. For comparison's sake, the trip from Astoria to LA is 1,100 miles, while the trip from San Simeon is 250.

Today, I'm catching up on the laundry, and TV shows I missed while I was out of town. I didn't water the yard today.


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