Coastal Thanksgiving

For the Thanksgiving holiday this year, we decided to explore San Mateo County’s section of the Pacific Coast. Dina settled on Butano State Park as our base, which is mostly made of a redwoods-forested canyon, south of Pescadero and on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains. We arrived in the late afternoon, having taken CA-84 through Woodside to San Gregario, and then heading south on CA-1.

We arrived late enough that, after setting up camp, it soon became too dark for even a short hike. It’s been cool on the Peninsula this fall, and it felt cool in the morning. We were all grateful when, with temperatures between 30 – 40 °F (0 – 5°C), Dina made oatmeal for breakfast.

Waiting for morning oatmeal

One of the first things I noticed—and probably evident from the use of the flash in the above picture—is how dimmed the light on the forest floor is. The cool, dim environment appears to let some pretty sizeable mushrooms thrive; this specimen’s cap is about 2.5″ (63 mm) in diameter, although apparently there are bigger species around. The ribbon-like growths show a bit of élan.

Mushroom at redwood base

Ben captured an interesting diffracted view of the forest around us:

Ben’s diffracted forest

Out of the dimness, we drove down to Año Neuvo State Reserve, and worked off a little energy in our walk out to the dunes and possible elephant seals.

Running at Año Nuevo

As we walked, I watched a raptor maintain a position for seconds at a time, presumably as part of its hunting method. Here are three frames, over a total of 8 seconds, from a fair distance away.

Stationkeeping raptor

The mating season for elephant seals doesn’t begin for a few weeks yet, so that apparently makes these early arrivals juvenile females that won’t actually participate directly.

Juvenile female elephant seals

We explored Pescadero State Beach and the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, but the formation revealed at Pebble Beach between the two was striking. Apparently, the ocean (and already pulled pebbles) knock out other pebbles and slowly widen the sockets.

Section of formation at Pebble Beach SB

We went back for another crisp evening and chilly morning at Butano, revisited a few of the sites on Friday, and headed back—with a detour through Gilroy to sample a bit of Black Friday—in time for a dinner at home.

Photos taken with a Panasonic Lumix LX-2 and with a Canon PowerShot S2 IS.