“If you were only in San Diego for one day, what would you do?” I questioned my extroverted waitress at breakfast. We had awoken early and walked down to the pier to catch the sunrise. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy morning and if you had asked me to merely point out the general direction of the sun in the sky, I would’ve had a problem doing so. However, this was good in the sense that the fisherman had some great luck and so the sea lions were circling, begging their new best friends for a treat.
“Uhhh, hmmmm. Well, I’ve lived here my whole life but—one day? That’s a hard one. Hey Jim!” She shouted to a regular sitting across the bar, “If you were in San Diego for one day, what would you do?”
He finished swallowing his hash browns, took a big gulp of black coffee and said, “I’d go to Old Town and do some shopping around, then head over to La Jolla Cove. It’s a really beautiful beach–and there’s tons of wildlife in that area.”
“Consider it done,” we said, paying for our larger-than-life omelettes and routing the GPS to Old Town.
We had been here the night before, but pulling up to the area in the daylight gave it a completely new feel. Vendors slowly began to flip their signs to Open, clearly invested in the laidback California time. Grabbing an iced latte from a local cafe, we stopped in a gift store to check out the cheesy tourist trinkets.
“Hey, look!” my friend shouted ecstatically, walking over to me beaming. Holding their hand out, I read the keychain that said “I Love Raven”. I had to rub my eyes and look again. In all of the plastic souvenir shops I’ve stepped in throughout my life, I’ve yet to see a keychain with my name on it. Granted, this keychain was on the shelf for dogs’ names, but hey, a wins a win. Now feeling overly accomplished with our gift shop finds, we figured it was time for a change of scenery.
La Jolla Cove
Pulling into the lot at La Jolla Cove, a deadly smell started creeping in through our open windows.
“Um….What IS that?”
The sea lions’ lunch left an overwhelming stench of fish lingering in the breeze all throughout the cove. Step by step, we made our way down to the sandy shore.
“Look!” someone shouted excitedly and I gasped.
A sea lion mother was nursing her tiny pup on a nearby rock. I watched as the baby grunted, distressed because he didn’t have his eyes open yet and couldn’t find the right position to bask in. His mother lifted her head and pulled the pup close to her, giving him a soft pat with her flipper. It was such a fascinating interaction to have a front row seat for. We stayed and stared, mesmerized, for quite some time before climbing back up the stairs to explore the other side of the beach.
“So THIS is where the rest of the colony’s at.”
There much have been one hundred sea lions and seals all plopped on top of each other over here. Half of them were napping peacefully in the beating sun and half of them were barking and chasing each other down the beach. I use the term chasing lightly here, as, without legs, it’s a bit hard to drag your entire body weight across the sand at something that could qualify as a fast pace. Even so, they were going at it. I was so close to these floppy little guys that I could reach out and pat them on the head, but I didn’t dare. Touching the wildlife here is strictly prohibited, and you can score up to an $11,000 fine, as well as lose a finger or two from an angsty water dog.
I was surprised that so much wildlife still liked to hang out at this cove as more and more people began to flock here to encounter them each year, however, it was a charming place, so I couldn’t blame them.
As the sun began to set over the horizon, I stretched out on a sandy rock nearby the beach and joined the sea lions in the activity they did best: Napping.