18 Sep
Days adrift.  Click here to see our best and worst experiences so far.
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Bus, train and taxi rides.  Click here to see all posts relating to transport. (56 posts)
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Otters spotted.  Click here to go to our website about otters: amblonyx.com
...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

4 June 2016

Overdone kangaroo rat

Sea otters weren't meant to land

Sea otters weren’t meant to land

4 May 2016

On most mammal watching holidays we hit a day when we overdo it. This was that day.

It started really pleasantly, with some early morning sea otter watching from the shore at Elkhorn Slough. There was one dozing on the sand less than five metres from us. Because it was grey and cool we gave up our original idea of more kayaking and headed inland, to the Pinnacles National Park for a short hike. We finally saw some more chipmunks! The hike was good too, up through talus caves formed by the gaps left when huge boulders tumble down in a jumble into a ravine. Our third activity was a bit of surprise wine tasting; there seems to be a tiny wine region north of Pinnacles and we stopped at Calera – a winery that does export to the UK – to try their excellent pinot noirs. Apparently their biggest export market is Japan, after a character in a manga did a blind tasting of Calera vs some French wines and declared the Californian upstart the winner. There’s a manga for every subject, clearly! Now visiting Japanese on business in the bay area will hire a car for the day just to come and visit the winery.

Merriam's chipmunk

Merriam’s chipmunk

In the afternoon we went for a drive down the Old Hernandez Road in search of mammals, and although it’s a beautiful road through semi-wild ranch country that really does feel like you’ve driven back in time 80 years, we didn’t see much wildlife. Stopped at a restaurant in Tres Pinos for a steak dinner, then got back on the road for a night drive along the Panoche Road. The trouble was the sheer amount of driving – 45 minutes from our motel to the Old Hernandez Road, then a 2 hour drive to end up at Tres Pinos, then a 40 minute drive to get to the worthwhile part of the Panoche Road, then 2 hours night drive (spot-lighting), then an hour driving back to our motel. And believe me, we picked about the most convenient motel for this area. We should only have tried it if we’d had an otherwise quiet day with maybe a nap in the afternoon.

For the record, we did identify two species of kangaroo rat, one kind of mouse, and we may have seen a San Joaquin kit fox but unfortunately not well enough to be sure. We also imbibed loads of dust, spot-lighting on a dirt road on a windy night. Oh, and just as we were getting home I discovered that something at dinner had disagreed with me. Well, it happens once every holiday almost without fail (except for Japan). And I had steak for dinner, so can’t blame the seafood!

The otter was this close!

The otter was this close!

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