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Elephant Seals

If you've never seen a 5,000-pound animal barking, fighting, giving birth, and piling on top of one another, this is your chance. The area around Cambria is one of the few places where you can get up close and personal to elephant seals, and January is the height of their activity.

We will visit at least their two main haul out points near Cambria. One is a bit of a hike (2 mi), but another is just a few steps from a parking lot. Both places allow us to set up our tripods a few yards above the elephant seals along the top of a sand berm the seals can't climb. We're too small to threaten them so they just go about their business without noticing us.

We can also poke around in the foothills of Big Sur for some nature shots, and the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. Headed home Sunday, we can stop for photo ops in Morro Bay, Montaña de Oro State Park, Pismo Beach, Vandenberg, Santa Barbara, etc.

We leave work a few hours early on Thursday to beat traffic across LA and drive straight to Cambria, arriving by 9 PM. We take Friday off work to give ourselves a 3-day weekend, and drive home by Sunday night. Everyone should try to carpool. I have a minivan that seats 7.

We've rented an entire house so the cost has been reduced to $37/person/night, and that includes a simple breakfast. To confirm your spot, please go to www.bizware.com/support/xca.htm with a credit card.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Some of these pictures are amazing. I hope you do this trip again in the future.

    January 20, 2013

  • sean s.

    From reviewing the pics, one thing I am not seeing is a lot of focus on Elephant Seals. I am seeing a lot of pics of the surroundings. Was hoping to see more pics of the subject- Elephant Seals.

    January 17, 2013

    • Carol A.

      Great photos to everyone....!

      January 19, 2013

    • Marcia B.

      Okay, I just threw some seal pics out there too.

      January 19, 2013

  • Ebie

    It was well worth trip, and for the planner, who did his best to make the room assignments work well. Kudos to Peter and everyone in the group. It was a learning experience, for the amateur and the experienced. It was not all about the seals but the exchange of ideas and talents, staying up late and waking up early (to some) sharing everything including the gadgets. Thanks Jan.
    I hope this is just a start of more outings! Till we meet again!

    1 · January 19, 2013

  • Marcia B.

    Perfect time to visit the area. Great weather, great company, great location!

    January 17, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I sent you a friend request in facebook. We would love to see your photos.

      January 18, 2013

  • sean s.

    So how was the trip? I want to go up there sometime but had just got from Fresno. Did not feel like making a long road trip.

    January 17, 2013

    • Jan M.

      Who would have thought such a diverse group of strangers could have so much fun sleeping in a hostel and sharing bathrooms! It was a great trip. A little bit like herding cats as small groups went to different areas, (or in Peter's case, different times -- he was up and out the door by 5 am! Where are those shots, Peter?). But we all made it back in the evening to exchange tips and adventure and friendships that I suspect will last to the next trip. Oh, and the photography was great, too!

      2 · January 17, 2013

  • Jan M.

    Okay - I uploaded my photos. Straight out of camera, no processing. Hope I didn't overload the system! Great memories. THANKS Peter!

    January 16, 2013

  • Jan M.

    Fun, fun, fun. Including the flat tire I got on the 101 in the midst of traffic. (Marcia and Jerry talked me off the ledge and AAA are miracle workers!) My photos are coming soon, and I figured out why I couldn't upload them -- because I hadn't joined this group. Hopefully I'm in and will get them there soon.

    1 · January 15, 2013

    • Ebie

      None at all except that when the file is large it will take a bit of time to upload.

      January 15, 2013

    • Ebie

      We look forward to your photos. We had a blast that I left my wallet in Peter's van and I just received it before noon by USPS.

      January 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    What a wonderful weekend!!! Thank you all for making it soooo special!! You made my birthday unforgetable. My photos are coming soon.

    January 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Seeing the elephant seals was fun! They are so funny. My daughters and I had a great weekend.

    January 14, 2013

    • Ebie

      You should have hooked up with us, it would have been more fun.

      January 14, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks Ebie! If I had known when the group was going to be places, we could have joined you. Staying at hostels is not for me and I have a daughter who has a difficult time dealing with a lot of people. We did our own thing and it worked out well. We went to Hearst Castle, Big Sur and did see the elephant seals.

      January 14, 2013

  • carol l.

    Such a great educational trip to see the Elephant Seals. The docent couldn't have been better.
    Suggest for other educational trips that links related to the subject be provided in advance. There are so many great Elephant Seal links and also the incredible Elephant Seal live webcam that we could have had in advance to review.

    January 14, 2013

  • cristina

    I had a great time.. It was nice meeting all of you.. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
    Live it

    January 14, 2013

  • Carol A.

    Hi all something just came up here at work and I will be unable to go.I am offering my place a full bed with someone sharing the room on a cot for 1/2 price....$60 . If you would like to take my spot you need to contact me. [masked]-4815. call or text me. If I do not hear from anyone Peter will not let you go in my spot unless he hears from me. Please let me know ASAP...also I have a spot on Peter's van for carpooling that will be yours if you need it.

    January 9, 2013

    • Ebie

      Female only cause I am sharing the room with you. Thanks.

      January 9, 2013

    • Carol A.

      Yes, sorry I forgot to mention that part...Thanks!

      January 9, 2013

  • cristina

    Peter.
    Will you be sending out I for for the caRpooling,food etc.
    Thanks...

    January 8, 2013

    • Peter S.

      Yes, I already did. Please check your spam folder.

      January 8, 2013

  • Kim

    I've just had to cancel, so if anyone wants to buy my space let me know. There is also a seat available in Peter's van so contact him if you need a ride. Thank you, hope to join you in the future.

    January 7, 2013

    • Carol A.

      Hi Jamie, no, my room is a single.

      January 7, 2013

    • Kim

      You would have to ask Peter if there is a double available.

      January 7, 2013

  • Carol A.

    Peter, could you please tell me if Marcia, Ebie, or Kelly has agreed to take my spot. I need to know so they can pay me by Wednesday.

    January 7, 2013

    • Peter S.

      Carol - They wouldn't need to make an agreement with me, but with you. The minute you say you would like someone to take your place, I'll just make the change.

      January 7, 2013

    • Carol A.

      It sounds like all interested has paid for their room on line and have their own room. So I am taking my room availability off the list and taking my own room.

      January 7, 2013

  • cristina

    Peter
    Iwollbbusyat work.i was wonderingare we taking our own food or going out?

    January 6, 2013

    • Peter S.

      Good question for the gang. Cambria has a supermarket and our house has a full kitchen, so I could go either way. I suggest we cook simple community dinners at least one night, but I'm open to what others want.

      January 6, 2013

  • cristina

    Peter, I willbe busy at work but I was wondering if we are taking our own food, sharing,or eating out? Ignore my last post. Too many errors sorry

    January 6, 2013

  • Peter S.

    Good news regarding the Elephant Seals outing, I was able to reserve a charming place in Cambria well below the $50 that I estimated. For $37/person/night, we're reserving an entire 110-year-old hostel where we get 6 bedrooms, a common room to talk photography, a fenced garden with BBQ, a kitchen with dining area, WiFi -- and yes breakfast is included.

    To confirm your spot, please go to www.bizware.com/support/xca.htm with a credit card.

    November 3, 2012

    • Carol A.

      Hi Peter, If you have someone else who would like to go please let me know. I would like to "sell" my room to them. I am not going to be able to make it. Well, if I can't pass my room expense to someone else I will come but I would prefer to sell it.

      January 5, 2013

    • Marcia B.

      How many private rooms are there with a queen? My friend Jan had booked what was the "last" one, and then I booked the "last" one last night, and now there's "just one more" left? According to the Bridge Street Inn layout, there's only one "Queen sleeps two", and one "Queen + Single sleeps three". There are two other rooms with a full size bed.

      January 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Where are you planning to meet on Friday and what time, for those of us that are staying independently?

    January 4, 2013

    • Peter S.

      We will be staying at the Bridge Street Inn. Our comings and goings will be decided by the photographers there. I'll be promoting an early departure for our first outing, but I don't really know our exact times coming and going. I'll try to coordinate with folks who are not joining us, but that can get unpredictable.

      January 4, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I understand Peter! As you go, could you give us a rough idea of where the group is or going to be about at what time.

      January 4, 2013

  • Peter Shikli changed the location from Cambria Cafe to Bridge Street Inn

    January 4, 2013

  • cristina

    Peter
    Do u want the gas money in advance ?

    January 4, 2013

    • Peter S.

      Nope. We can cover that when we get together.

      January 4, 2013

  • Peter S.

    This just in from the docent who will guide us. At the main haul-out that we will be visiting, the first elephant seal pup was born on 12/11/12 with lots more cuties popping out since then. Mating season is starting about now, so our trip will be at the height of all the festivities this season. For more info and a webcam of our destination, check www.elephantseal.org

    1 · January 1, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I can't wait

      January 1, 2013

  • cristina

    Really looking forward to this trip. Happi new year

    January 1, 2013

  • Peter S.

    Great news! We will have our very own private docent from the Friends of the Elephant Seals for our outing. Not only will Babs Mondschein answer questions about these huge beasts, she will lead us to places few know of to see, understand, and photograph them.

    We still have room at the rented house for couples, and this is turning into a fine opportunity for photographers to bring their spouses.

    December 15, 2012

  • cristina

    I'm Cristina g. I'm the one that was in pa

    December 11, 2012

    • Peter S.

      Your message was cut off. Instead of posting your message on the event, so it goes to everyone in the club, please click my name and select the option to send me an email. That way, you and I can have an online chat and I'm sure I can answer your questions. - Peter Shikli

      December 11, 2012

  • cristina

    Peter
    Will I b Abel to carpool with you all?

    December 11, 2012

    • Peter S.

      There's 2 Christina's signed up (both with an h). Which one are you? Suggestion: Add a last name initial (like cristina f or cristina g) and it still maintains your privacy while giving folks like me an idea of who you are.

      December 11, 2012

  • cristina

    Peter
    I put a ck in mail.

    December 5, 2012

  • cristina

    Peter.
    I'm in pa until the 1st of December. When I return I will forward paayment in the event there is room. Would you tell me how much it will cost. Thank tou

    November 26, 2012

    • cristina

      Ok I will send you a ck. let me know where I should mail it

      November 26, 2012

    • Peter S.

      Peter Shikli, P.O. Box 4393, San Clemente, CA 92674

      November 26, 2012

  • cristina

    I would like to carpool. I'm off the 5 or 405. Any room?

    November 23, 2012

    • Peter S.

      There's room at the moment, but since you haven't paid your share of the place we're renting, I can't hold it open.

      November 24, 2012

  • Barb B

    I went this past January. If you have time- take the morning tour of the light house after early shoot of seals, it's worth it. Also- keep your eyes on the seagulls hovering over the females- they are the first to spot the ones giving birth since they fight over the afterbirth, a real treat for them and interesting shot for you.

    November 10, 2012

  • Kim

    I just put the check in the mail. Peter I'd like to join you in the carpool as well.

    November 8, 2012

    • Peter S.

      Thanks. I've got you down for a seat in my van. What town do you live in?

      November 8, 2012

  • Peter S.

    Christina - I see your payment. Thank you. I will email a payment confirmation to everyone. I'm thinking of giving bed choices to first-paid first-choice.

    November 3, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      I like that, to have my bed choice. Also, don't forget I am carpooling with you.

      November 3, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I have made my own hotel reservations. Please keep us, that are not staying in the hostel, in the loop, as far as time and places, where we can meet up with the group.

    November 3, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Paid $111 today 11/3/2012

    November 3, 2012

  • Peter S.

    For those interested in carpooling, I'm leaving San Clemente with a minivan that seats 7. I'd be happy to stop to pickup folks who live near the 5 as I head north. I don't smoke.

    October 26, 2012

    • Peter S.

      We can do that. You can leave your car here in San Clemente. It's a safe, sleepy neighborhood.

      October 30, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      OK, I will wait for instructions as we get closer to the date. Thank you so much :)

      October 30, 2012

  • Peter S.

    There is no filming permit or fee required, and we don't need releases from the elephant seals :)
    There may be a couple bucks to get into the park.

    October 30, 2012

  • Peter S.

    The ~$50/person/night covers lodging. Other than food and gas, there are no other significant expenses.

    October 30, 2012

  • Susan M.

    ok. One more Q. Does the $50 a day include lodging, or is the lodging extra?

    October 30, 2012

  • Peter S.

    The reason we'll have several hikes is so folks can go on the ones that suit them.

    October 30, 2012

  • Susan M.

    Thank you for your response, Peter. At this time I don't think I am in good enough shape for the hikes. One level mile is about the max for me.

    October 30, 2012

  • Peter S.

    Susan,
    There are two haul-outs to see the elephant seals. The best (in my opinion) basically starts at the end of a parking lot and we can walk a few hundred yards along a fenced boardwalk above the frolicking monsters. The second is about a 2-mile hike to the haul-out and another 2 miles back, plus however long you wish poking around nearby, all on regular hiking trails. All this is near the ocean, so without much elevation change. We may also go on some inland hikes to see the lush vegetation around Cambria, but we'll plan those as we get closer.

    October 30, 2012

  • Susan M.

    is the hike to one of the seal viewing areas 2 miles round trip or each way? Is it a flat walk or up and down?

    October 30, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Peter is oganizing this Meetup. You may direct your questions to him or inquire here.

    October 30, 2012

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