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Friday, September 07, 2012

99/44 100% Elk

Early - but not too early - I thanked Inez for her hospitality this week, and headed south on my favorite drive in California. I made a brief stop at Prairie Creek Redwoods - OK, it was a potty stop, but it has to be in the top 3 nicest potty stops Northern California has to offer.
Elk herd by the ocean, opposite the freshwater lagoon, south of Orick by Highway 101
While my trip north to Crescent City was disappointingly elk-free, my trip home was delightfully elk saturated. South of Orick I near skidded off the freeway to admire a beautiful herd of Roosevelt Elk.
Lovely herd with lots of skittering calves, a few still spotty, the ocean making a beautiful backdrop for them.

The herd moved slowly north, north being the direction the herd's bull pushed and prodded his mates toward. At one point, a gigantic calf, nearly as large as its mother, dropped to its knees to nurse. The bull had a thing or two to interject on the matter, which you can see here below.  Oh! And pardon the music, it was either that or speeding cars and loud tourists.

To the rear of the herd, all by herself, was a cow elk. She looked heart-breakingly thin, and rather bedraggled. As the season is heading for fall and on to winter, you have to wonder if the old gal doesn't have a load of parasites or some such, keeping her condition on the edge. Still, she's one lucky cow, considering if she were in Yellowstone - land of Wolves, Grizzlies and snow up to yer arse, she wouldn't have much chance of surviving a winter. Here in Northern California, even if she goes, she won't have a pack of Wolves or a cranky Grizzly at her throat. She's probably more likely to get hit by a SUV.

Eventually I got in my car and reluctantly headed south again. It's a long drive home and you don't make it staring at pretty wildlife. It was tricky getting back onto Hwy 101, the freeway experienced a rather Yellowstone-ish wildlife car jam.
I don't think it was more than 15 or 20 minutes later I was toddling past the Arcata Bay, when I caught the pale flash of Elk behind down in bottomlands. More elk - and even more exciting than more elk, I was the only one driving by who seemed to notice the bruisers!
At first there seemed to be nothing much along the Arcata Bay
But movement amid the rushes gave the herd away, even to my eye
Again, the ocean set up a gray back drop to the herd, and again, although there was more than one bull Elk in the herd, there was one that seemed to be doing all the bossing around, and he too was moving the herd north.

I love viewing Elk in marshy areas - so exotic!

The cows of the herd thought I was FASCINATING!
As picturesque as this southern herd was, I soon headed south again.  Stopped in  Eureka for a coffee pick-me-up and I even indulged in some shopping. Picked up a new pottery soup mug to replace the one that saw me through college a b'jillion years ago, that broke a week or so ago. The new one is nothing like the big one, but it does hold twice as much - hum... maybe not the best decision I've made all month.

The shop 'til you drop' district of Eureka

 After fueling up me & my car in Eureka, it was off south again where I enjoyed a leisurely drive through the Avenue of the Giants. Late afternoon I even made yet-another-out-of-the-usual protocol stop in Ukiah. I had a quick dinner at the Ukiah Brewery - fish & chips. Then it was on home to Fair Oaks, and my Crescent City trekking was over for this year.

Nasturtium in the rock piles at an obligatory stop, Chapman's Gem & Mineral Shop,
on 101 t'wixt Fortuna and Rio Dell 101 

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