Later in the week, we retoured the harbor in sea kayaks, which offer a better view of the native mammals - sea lions, harbor seals, and the threatened southern sea otter. Becky Hopkinson, a friend from San Francisco who has done some adventure racing with me and Jeff, joined us for the day of paddling. With the number of otters we saw around the bay - many tending to their newborn pups - it's hard to believe that there are only 2200 remaining individuals living exclusively off the California coast.|
The Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits tourists from approaching the animals, but it's often difficult to avoid them. One young harbor seal was particularly interested in our kayaks and would alternatively approach us and then go back to Mom, who didn't seem to appreciate his curiosity.
When we weren't out on the water, Jeff and I spent time seeing the sights of the central California - often during trail runs along the coast. The six-mile perimeter trail around Point Lobos State Reserve follows the craggy cliffs in and out dozens of secluded coves, offering constantly changing views. We conveniently disregarded warning signs (There was nothing to indicate that entry was actually forbidden), scrambling down the cliffs to one of the pristine beaches with ivory sand and emerald waters. I waded out into the shallow water to peek into a grotto in the cliff walls, but was immediately turned back upon finding the cave occupied by a young seal pup.
For my last day in California, Becky, Jeff and I drove up to San Francisco to participate in the Bay to Breakers race. This annual 12k run from the Embarcadero to the shoreline of Golden Gate Park has nearly 50,000 registered runners and walkers - although the actual number of participants is probably closer to 100,000. For elite runners, the event may be a race, but for the vast majority, Bay to Breakers is more of a community parade, complete with home-made floats, costumes, and in some cases, no attire at all.
Jeff, Becky and I began at the Embarcadero 90 minutes after the official race start and jogged our way up through the herd while I took snapshots of noteworthy costumes. At times, the crowd came to a complete standstill as an oversized float squeezed through a narrow street or the Elvises got a little raucous. In the end, all three of us set personal records for our slowest 12k run - more than 90 minutes of weaving in and out of dense crowds of costumed revelers.
Following the race, we walked the four miles back to Becky's house, stopping for a quick brunch at Harvey's in the Castro. Then it was off to the airport for a flight back to reality - a land without pro surfers, baby seals, or naked people on roller skates. New Mexico is treating me well, but I'm always anxious to be on the move again. The wait is never very long; after two weeks here, I'm off to Boston to see Tomas and attend my commencement. If all goes well, I'll to head to Europe in late June to kick off a 'round-the-world adventure.
Life is a sum of experiences. Don't forget to make time for the experiences that are important to you.