Friday, August 31, 2012

I won the battle of the ants. I hope.

12 days ago I awoke to find the kitchen sink filled with ants. And the weird thing is there wasn't even any food in it. Nonetheless I could follow the trail back to a tiny gap at the top of kitchen cabinets along a wall near the window over the sink.

Some of you may realize I face a moral dilemma when it comes to killing bugs. I just don't like killing anything. Begrudgingly I will kill fleas and mosquitos but everything else is catch and release when found in the house and I let nature take its course outdoors. So that first day I sprinkled chili powder and cayenne pepper flakes all around the counter. But it didn't seem to deter them at all.

 So I waited for hubby to wake up the next morning and told him to deal with them. LOL. I hate pesticides so that was the first I learned that he had a liquid ant poison hidden in the back of a cupboard. He put some drops out. The ants flocked to it. It contains borax which is toxic to ants but they carry it back to the nest and it will kill the queen. Once that happens the colony will collapse.

So we waited. It got worse before it got better because the ants thought they'd found a food source. After several days they were back in full force so my friend Carl suggested we try a different ant bait called Terro. Again the ants flocked to the bait but it didn't stem their flow.

At this point our friend Harpreet asked if I could see where they were coming from. I went home and looked outside the window and sure enough could see the steady flow of ants climbing the side of the house and entering through a little spot along the underside of the roofline. In the past I've successfully blocked ant trails by filling the interior entry point with Elmers Glue. But since the entry point was hidden in the tiny gap over the kitchen cabinet I couldn't find it to block it. There were so many ants in the house I hadn't wanted to block the hole as then I'd have to deal with all of the ants trapped inside.

My friend Dana said to pour boiling water down the sink to wash away any debris caught in the pipes. I did but first I turned the water on slowly and ants came out. I gradually turned it on higher and higher and more ants came out. When I turned it to hot the exodus was extreme! When it appeared most were out of the drains I added two huge pots of boiling water. The ants pretty much steered clear of the drain from that point forward. But they still kept coming in.

So then, also Dana's suggestion, we purchased Grants Ant Stakes. But they aren't instantaneous. Apparently the worker ants won't collect the bait until a scout ant gives the A-OK.

Enough was enough. I haven't been able to cook in the kitchen for almost two weeks as the steady stream of ants wandered around our sink and counters! So I went online and searched "How to get rid of ants" and found many non toxic solutions and tips on how to remove and avoid them.

The first was to spray the area they were targeting with vinegar so I did. OMA (Oh My Ants) they did not like that but instead of making them retreat all of a sudden four times more ants were streaming into the house. So I wiped up what I could and went to the second home remedy: baking soda. I sprinkled it all over the kitchen counter leaving a gap for ants already there to return to their nest but it didn't deter the incoming ants at all.

So then I tried another suggestion cinnamon. Immediately it was clear that the cinnamon was the ticket. They did not want to walk across it so I liberally sprinkled it all across the counter. At this point I took a spatula and began pushing the baking soda and cinnamon in towards the ants shrinking the area they were occupying. So then they started walking sideways across the glass window.

So then I began throwing pinches of cinnamon directly into their paths. It stopped them. I reasoned if the ants were that averse to being in contact with the cinnamon I need to put cinnamon everywhere. The best solution I came up with was to take a wire sieve and scoop the soda and cinnamon powder with a spatula into the sieve and fling it all around that area of the counter and wall. It worked!

I knew at that point that putting cinnamon near their entry point would be helpful. But the space they were coming through was only 1/8th of an inch high. So I got a plastic drinking straw, shoved it into the jar of cinnamon, put my finger over the end to create a vacum to hold the powder in, placed the full end into the gap and blew the cinnamon into the crack.

And it worked!

The flow of new ants almost ceased. But now I had dozens trapped between two points. This is where the kitchen sponge comes in. To catch them one by one would have been tedious so I began swiping them up with the sponge in groups and walked them to the front porch to release them. It took about 20-30 trips to get almost all of the ants back out where they belong.

I blew about 4 more straws full of cinnamon into the gap and tomorrow will go get some clear caulk to patch the entry point from the outside.

It's been around 9 hours and while I've found a few stragglers to catch and release I think the worst has passed.

If you have ants in your house try the cinnamon first. It's working for me so far and on the upside my house now smells like Christmas :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Do you live on the West Coast? Have you seen David Goeser?

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook asking people to help publicize that David Goeser, a UCLA Honors Student, is missing. There wasn't much of an explanation as the caption so I went to Google and searched his name. I found this article "David Goeser Missing: Car of UCLA student found in Pacific Palisades, LAPD say"

On medication and struggling with depression, David has been missing since July 22, 2012. Combing through a Facebook page started to help find him, it was mentioned he may be in Southern California, Northern California or possibly Mexico.

His Facebook page is asking people anywhere on the West Coast to please print and share this flyer in English and Spanish.

I hope and pray that David is found safe.

If you are or know someone who is suffering from depression please reach out for help or encourage those who are suffering to not hide it, don't try to handle it on your or their own. Anyone suffering from depression needs a support system of people who, even if they don't know how to help, that they are willing to try to understand is an important breakthrough for those who have tried to deal with depression on their own. Depression has touched my own life, and the lives of those around me in many different ways. In 2010 I wrote a blog post in the hopes of beginning a conversation that will help others who battle depression know they aren't alone and things can and do get better.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Equine Entertainment: War Horse at the Curran Theater

If you're a horse lover War Horse may be a Broadway show you would enjoy seeing. Because I've been obsessed with the beauty of horses since I was a kid, I went to see War Horse at the Curran Theater with my friends Keith and Loretta. They go to many shows in the Best of Broadway series. Me? I make it to the theater once every five years or so.

War Horse is playing at SF's Curran Theater until September 9, 2012

My sole reason to go was to see the horses.  I'd seen them on one of the morning news shows weeks ago and It was like Maker Faire meets Broadway. Have you already seen them? The metal and fabric, life size horse puppets are the stars of the show. They were so amazing. They are the most imaginative puppets I've ever seen in person. As the show went on it was possible to suspend myself to a place where I started believing they were real horses. It was the ears. Their ears brought a level of "life" to them that I wouldn't have thought possible.

This video shows how lifelike the horses, Joey and Topthorn, can be.

Each horse puppet takes three puppeteers to maneuver them into grazing, walking, trotting and galloping. Actors even ride astride them!

The storyline is about a young man named Albert Narracot and his horse who are torn apart only to face many obstacles in Albert's quest to be reunited with his beloved Joey. I won't tell you if the ending is happy or sad because I don't want to spoil it for you if you're planning on seeing the Broadway show or movie.

I will tell you there was a surprising amount of humor for a war themed movie. I did enjoy it a lot and would love to see the horses, up close and personal, at a future Maker Faire event in San Mateo. They would be the stars of the Faire.

Monday, August 20, 2012

And the winners of the 2012 Bridal Chocolate Salon are...

Pinch me. Seriously. As a blogger I often do things I really don't want to do, like that time I walked atop Toronto's CN Tower Edgewalk to face my fear of heights. But there are also moments of pure bliss. Being invited to be a judge of The Bridal Chocolate Salon? Yeah, that's a no brainer. Imagine me, with a huge pile of chocolate, and not just wanting but having and needing to try all of it! How else could I be a fair judge? LOL

Bridal Chocolate Salon 2012

The winners of the 2012 Bridal Chocolate Salon have been announced! Categories included not only best flavors but also best packaging and presentation.

The funniest thing about being a judge this year was that right before I sat down and sampled all of this chocolate, I had literally just been to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned. LOL. With hindsight I realize I should have done it the other way around.

Judging Chocolates

This is what the process looks like. Glamorous? Not so much. Delicious? You bet :D As I sampled and photographed each piece I used Post Its to take notes and score each piece. When I was done with the eating portion I went back to vote for them in multiple categories.

With so many chocolates to choose from I was, again this year, a bit overwhelmed. But here were my favorites. Some I loved for their flavors and others for their packaging. Below I've listed the winners of the competition itself. Most I agree with spot on, a few not so much but because taste is subjective I think it's better to represent what the panel of judges decided rather than just my own opinion.

Forte Artisan Chocolates
First Place: Most Delicious Ingredient Combination

Spot on was Forte Artisan Chocolate's fantastic flavors. One bite and you could instantly tell you were enjoying a quality confection, made with care, from pure ingredients.

Forte Chocolate Flavors
Three Way Tie for First Place: Best Flavored Chocolates

Their favors were Lemon Pepper, Dark Sea Salt Caramel, and Rosemary Sea Salt.

Lemon Pepper Chocolate

The Lemon Pepper was my favorite. It was smooth, creamy, lemony and peppery. The flavors were rich and contrasting in the most pleasing way. And it didn't just taste good. It looked good too. It had edible iridescent glitter on one edge! Aesthetically I enjoyed the bright red paper wrappers.

Sea Salt Chocolate Caramel
Tied for First Place: Best Caramel

Oh, and the Dark Sea Salt Caramel is divine! The caramel really was perfection. So smooth, so rich, and luscious. Add to it the bittersweetness of the dark chocolate and tiny grains of crystalized sea salt and my mouth is starting to water just thinking about it.

First Place: Best Artistic Design and Most Gifted Chocolatier

Pretty packaging with even prettier chocolates was this truffle box by Chocolot. The molded and filled chocolates were very shiny. A few were extra colorful and some were even finished with edible metallic paint.

Chocolot Flavors
First Place Tie for: Most Artistic Designs Best Milk Chocolate and Best Chocolatier. Three Way Tie for First Place: Best Flavored Chocolates

My favorite flavors were the Mint Leaf (on the left) and the Fleur de Sel Caramel (on the right). The Mint Leaf had that pure, more fresh than sweet mint flavor that makes you feel like someone went out to the garden, grabbed a handful of fresh mint leaves and infused them into cream filling.

First Place Tie: Best Milk Chocolate

What do you get when you combine soft milk chocolate that melts in your mouth with crunchy toffee bits and sea salt? San Juan Sea Salt Truffles from Seattle Chocolates! For weddings their packaging is very cute and would be a welcome addition to any favor table.

San Juan Sea Salt

If this had been a competition based on taste only this chocolate would have been a tie with the Lemon Pepper Forte chocolate as my most favorite of all.

Sixth Course Chocolates
Three Way Tie for First Place: Best Flavored Chocolates

Because I don't drink alcohol Sixth Course was a real surprise because I liked their flavors so much. With Brandy Cherry & Black Pepper and Grand Marnier Twist I wasn't expecting to enjoy them. But I did! Their packaging is a bit modest for the formality of many weddings but the lack of a designer box is more than made up for by the quality and flavors of their chocolates.

Socola Chocolates
First Place: Best Dark Chocolate

Socola is the total package. Literally. With their attractive Tiffany blue favor box and the paper box band with their name in multi-flirty colors any guest would be pleased to receive a box of their truffles.

Ciel Truffle RIng Box
Raspberry Orange Blossom

The pièce de résistance of packaging was by Ciel Chocolatiers. Their presentations were over-the-top elegant. In fact, they were experiences. I mean when was the last time you found a perfect, shiny, metallic, red, edible heart chocolate nestled inside of a mirrored, silver lined, white ring box? Even the back of the chocolate was beautiful.

Ciel Chocolates
Ginger Rose and Amandine

Want to give your guests more than just a single chocolate? Ciel's two chocolate signature red favor box was even more elegant with a shiny, gold, mirrored finish lining the interior of the box.

Best Chocolate Presentation
Port Concerto and Paris Truffle

And this stunning, ultra-elegant, split top, presentation box, listed on their website for corporate gifts, well, it blew me away. And the chocolates within were equally impressive.

They also took first place in several categories including Best in Salon, Best Packaging, Best Truffle, Best Bridal Gift Set, Best for the Bride, and Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience. Ciel Chocolatiers also tied for first place as Best Chocolatier and tied as Best for the Wedding Reception.

Guylian Chocolates
First Place: Best Traditional Chocolates and tied for Best for the Wedding Reception.

The Belgian truffles by Guylian are 100% pure cocoa butter with centers made of a hazelnut praliné filling. I'm not sure why but European chocolates were my gateway to loving chocolate. Yeah, can you believe I didn't even like chocolate until I was in my early  20's? And I didn't start loving it until years later.

Unfortunately the chocolates had a slight "bloom" to them but beneath the white powder I could tell that originally they were both smooth and shiny as only molded chocolates can be.

Cocotutti sent not one. . . 

Not two. . .

But three selections! The packaging for all three were suitable for a wedding. Personally I liked both of the options with the clear finish so you can actually see how beautiful their painted chocolates are.

For those of you who love white chocolate this white chocolate truffle from the Chubby Chipmunk will be a morsel of happiness beautifully wrapped in custom tissue and a gold pyramid box with a cute chipmunk label sealing it shut.

And coming in First Place as Best Organic or Fair Trade Products was Toffee Talk. Interestingly it also tied for First Place as Best Caramel which I really didn't understand since toffee is technically toffee and not a caramel but the other judges loved it that much :)

The aftermath.

There was even a mishap this year. When the first box of chocolates arrived on my doorstep it had sustained heat damage during transit and all of the chocolates had melted. A quick phone call and a second box was shipped out that day and I was able to sample and photograph the chocolates in all of their glory. It was a happy ending to another grand adventure as a blogging foodie.

Congratulations to the winners and my thanks to the Bridal Chocolate Salon for inviting me to be a judge. The pleasure is always mine :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Do I need a fun and flirty teardrop trailer?

I first became fascinated with teardrop camper trailers several years ago. Compact and lightweight I was shocked when I saw a picture of a Smart for Two car towing a teardrop trailer. I couldn't help but wonder how fun, flirty, economical and adventuresome would it be to have a branded and wrapped teardrop trailer and car traveling around the Bay Area as I work on stories for The Flirty Blog? Especially now as I focus more on promoting local tourism further afield than just San Jose and the South Bay. But why stop there? I could go national!

It's a someday thought I just can't quite seem to get out of my head. Here's why:

Teardrop Trailer
Sooooooooo cute! I think every travel blogger needs a teardrop trailer.

Updated 5/18/13: I didn't get a teardrop, instead I had a custom trailer built in a teardrop size (4'x6') but in the shape of a canned ham. It's a mini hybrid of the two most classic styles of travel trailers. Meet The Glampette! You can follow her build as I posted into a single category for each update from my trailer builder Fred. Just CLICK HERE and click on "Older Posts" at the bottom of each page to see the process from beginning to end.

End of Update

But before diving in and making a purchase I think the smartest way to approach whether I really need a flirty teardrop would be to rent one. Rates range from $130 - $175 (for a two night minimum) at Vacations In A Can. I'm thinking if I tried it and liked it, I could someday go out and purchase and customize one of my very own.

As luck would have it, Vacations In A Can is located right here in the Bay Area just north of San Francisco! Not only do they offer teardrops to rent, they'll also deliver them directly to a pre-approved campground for a nominal fee. Hmmm, I've been wanting to visit Bodega Bay to do some bird photography and it turns out for an additional $61 I can have a teardrop set up and waiting for me at one of three campgrounds. Upon my arrival I could spend the day shooting birds, at night get those sunset pictures I love to take, and the next morning I can head out before dawn to catch the sunrise.

If I try it and like it I'll have to seriously consider investing in a teardrop. If I used it enough, over time, the cost to stay at a campground would be far less than staying at a hotel or B&B when I travel.

Vacations In A Can Teardrop Trailers
Click on the image to visit Vacations In A Can

And Vacations In A Can doesn't just rent, they'll also build you a custom trailer!

Two more companies I'm considering if I decide a teardrop could fit into my flirty blogging lifestyle:

Little Guy Teardrop Trailers
Click on the image to visit Little Guy

Little Guy offers the super cute Rascal I customized and edited into my flirty branded teardrop and Smart Car dream photo above. It's the smallest and lightest of the teardrops I've researched so far weighing in at around 500 lbs. You can even tow it with a motorcycle.

Big Woody Retro Teardrop Trailers
Click on the image to visit Big Woody Campers

A bit heavier but so elegant, Big Woody Campers are simply luxurious! Finished in wood, their top of the line teardrop has a galley kitchen with a mini fridge and sink any traveling foodie would drool over.

Decisions decisions. If you own one I'd love to hear your thoughts about the pros and cons of this mode of travel.

I'm thinking it would even be fun to hang out in the teardrop when it's parked at home too. It could be my girl cave. And instead of backyard BBQ's I'd have to host tailgate parties in my driveway :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

TEDxSunnyvale Embracing Recklessness recap

The theme for our second TEDxSunnyvale event in 2012 was: “Embracing Recklessness”

Rather than focus on technology we shifted more towards those who are daredevils, thrill seekers, some with mental health conditions that cause them to behave recklessly, careers in recklessness, and how possibilities in innovation are able to become inventions when one is willing to take a risk. We even touched on some social recklessness. At the end of the day it is fear that holds most of us back. For some, it's not a barrier. Embracing recklessness has both positives and negatives. We wanted to explore both.

Our curator Gordon went the extra step of once again creating unique and custom name badges for us on the laser cutter/etcher. This time he altered the design a bit by spreading out the elements from their usual format. I thought it was a really nice change of pace.

I loved my cool new badge!

This was our first sold out event. Not in the sense that we charged but rather in that we ran out of seating so we had to close the registration link before the big day.

We spent the morning and afternoon watching, thinking about and discussing recklessness from three main perspectives: Pursuing Recklessness, Daring Voices, and New Frontiers. Here are the videos we watched and discussed that day in case you'd like to recreate the event on your own.

Session 1: Pursuing Recklessness

1. Danny MacAskill: Way Back Home (7:43)

2. Gever Tulley: 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do (9:22)

3. Diana Nyad: Extreme swimming with the world’s most dangerous jellyfish (16:58)

4. Eve Ensler: On Security (13:49)

5. Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity (12:04)

6. Heyonce: Single Man dances to Single Ladies (3:16)

Session 2: Daring Voices

7. Casey Neistat: Filmmaker (4:38)

8. Kary Mullis': Next-gen cure for killer infections (4:32)

9. J.D. Schramm: Break the silence for suicide attempt survivors (4:15)

10. Joshua Walters: On being just crazy enough (5:51)

11. Alanna Shaikh: How I’m preparing to get Alzheimer’s (6:12)

12. Philippe Petit: The journey across the high wire (19:07)

13.James Nachtwey: War Photographer (3:40)

14. Jennifer Lin: Improvises on piano at TED 2004 (5:15)

Session 3: New Frontiers

15. Jared Ficklin: New ways to see music (with color! and fire!) (10:00)

16. Misha Glenny: Hire the Hackers (18:40) Selected but not shown due to time conflict

17. George Dyson: On Project Orion (8:35)

18. Steve Truglia: A leap from the edge of space (14:33)

19. Jessamyn Lau - Get a Mohawk (9:38) The audio quality is not good but her message is fanatastic so find a quiet room and enjoy :)

Curator Gordon Garb welcomes our participants.

The process of suggesting and selecting videos is a group endeavor. Two that I had suggested that weren't selected for the presentation I wanted to include here because they embody the theme for me in a way different from the other videos we did present at our event.

The first is the TED Prize acceptance speech by Antiwar Photographer James Nachtwey. His photos are described by TED as "searing." I would have to agree. The first time I saw his work over a decade ago in the book Inferno the images were seared into my brain. They are unsettling, upsetting, disturbing but most of all real. They are the faces and consequences of what happens on the ground in times of war not just to soldiers, but to everyday people like you and me.

My respect for this man and the work he does is endless.

Since seeing first seeing his images in 1999 I've often wondered what drives a person to embrace the documentation of mans inhumanity towards other human beings? Whatever it is, it's something that most of us do not possess. Is it embracing recklessness or overlooking the danger to embrace humanity? I invite you to listen to the words of someone who has been where many of us will never go.

James Nachtwey: My photographs bear witness (21:48)
Why do I think his message matters so much? I think it can have some bearing in the way we vote our leaders into office. Rather than think of war as an idea that happens somewhere else to other people I think for some of us, our feelings would change if we had the opportunity to see what war is really like through the eyes of those who are forced to endure it. For many, their suffering comes through no fault of their own.
Naomi Klein: Addicted to Risk (19:50)
I also wanted to share this video by Naomi Klein as it focuses on the consequences of recklessness. Taken from TEDWomen 2010: "Our societies have become addicted to extreme risk in finding new energy, new financial instruments and more ... and too often, we're left to clean up a mess afterward. Klein's question: What's the backup plan?"
Lunch was provided by TechShop San Jose. We appreciate their support immensely.
   It is because of them we are able to host our events at no charge to our attendees.

I love that TED is all about "Idea's worth spreading." We hope our attendees always leave with fresh perspectives to consider, the courage to try something new, the desire ignited to follow their passions, and a drive to help spread these ideas and feelings. Simply leading by example we can all impact not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us in very positive ways.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Where to see Sea Otters in Northern California

Want to see sea otters in the wild? Recently I did some online research and learned that the best place to see them close up is right off HWY 1 in Moss Landing, CA.

If you've ever driven south on HWY 1 to Monterey, Carmel, or Castroville (where I attended the Artichoke Festival a few months ago), you've passed Moss Landing along the way. It's the place with the big power plant to your left and the Pot Stop, boat harbor, the Whole Enchilada restaurant and some farm stands to your right.

Using the guide in the article I linked to above I turned off on the Moss Landing Road exit but there wasn't a single sea otter to be found along the side of the road.

I traveled just a bit further down the road though and found the Shakespeare Society of America, and a variety of shops.

I also found an art gallery. Make that dos art galleries! La Galeria is a gem tucked away behind a restaurant. Currently it features the work of two artists. Dos Galeria is a collective located across the street. The woman at La Galeria couldn't have been friendlier. She was great and explained how the owner of the galleries is also the co-owner of the restaurant out front, the Haute Enchilada Cafe. She said it was cute and eclectic and that his wife was the one responsible for the fun decor. It was lunchtime so I thought I'd head over and try out their food.

The restaurant is in a large building that looks like a big house with lots of seating and sculptures in the front yard. The interior is cute, very colorful, and as promised, eclectic. I was quickly seated and perused the menu deciding I'd order the Beer Battered Fresh Local Brussels Sprouts and a vegetarian soft taco with black beans and rice.

Then I waited to place my order. Sadly, I waited so long I finally left. The restaurant wasn't overly busy and the waitress walked back and forth past my table over and over again but never stopped to take my order. It was as if she'd forgotten me in plain sight. I noticed that the other people who had placed their orders were all still waiting for their food over ten minutes later and I had sea otters to locate so rather than flag her down, I simply moved on.

I will return though because I really want to try those brussels sprouts.

Just down the highway is a shop I'd always wanted to stop at. The Pot Stop at Little Baja is a large, outdoor yard full of ceramic pots, planters and fountains. I wandered through the entire grounds looking for a pot for our front porch. There were two things I had to consider: I want a pot that's attractive, but not so great someone will steal it. There were so many I couldn't choose. I think I'll have to go back someday after talking to my sister who is going to help me re-landscape our front yard.

Just across the parking lot from the Pot Stop, and over looking the water, was the Sea Harvest restaurant. I hopped online to read some reviews. They looked good and I was still hungry so I figured it would have to do. As I approached the front door I noticed the sound of barking sea lions. I passed the entryway on the left and headed behind the restaurant where I found a long deck and a pier.

And this. . .  Piles of California Sea Lions.

And I mean piles of them! There was easily more than a hundred of them basking in the afternoon sun.

The pier was four sections long and kayakers could paddle up right alongside it if they wanted to. Wow. Imagine a picture taken from water level. The sea lions would look a lot bigger than from so far away.

That's about when I looked down and spotted a large jellyfish swimming beneath me. The hood was transparent with only the slightest white coloration to it. The tendrils were a bright orange, full and ruffled.

After doing some research later at home I learned that this was an Egg Yolk Jellyfish. The name made sense for obvious reasons. I absolutely love seeing jellyfish in the wild! I'd seen some earlier the same day over in Monterey including a Moon Jellyfish.

And then, way across the water I saw them. The Moss Landing Sea Otters. The reason I could tell they were Sea Otters was because seals and sea lions look different in the water. Typically you'll only see a seal's head and maybe one flipper out of the water at a time. With otters you see their head, and their tails so an otter has two parts, that are about the same height, floating above the water line. They were so far away this was the best shot I could get even with my 300mm zoom lens.

Hungry, I headed into the restaurant for a late lunch. The interior was colorful, the service efficient and the food was good. I tried the Salmon Bisque soup and the Grilled Salmon entree with a lemon caper sauce over salad. I would order both again and would definitely recommend Sea Harvest as a place to stop and have a meal when traveling along HWY1. A bonus for seafood lovers is that inside the restaurant dining room is also a small fresh fish market stand. So you can eat or shop at Sea Harvest.

After lunch I stepped back out onto the deck to see if any otters had moved closer to our side of the harbor. They hadn't but a few new jellyfish had arrived. I believe this is a Sea Nettle Jelly. The hood was transparent.

But then I saw this much larger Sea Nettle Jellyfish with an opaque, much more orange colored hood. I'm not sure if they are different varieties or one was a juvenile and the other an adult but it really didn't matter. It was amazing to see them drifting and swimming free out in nature.

I ended up chatting with another woman who was out enjoying the same views. She recounted how she had been on a whale watching tour that morning with Sanctuary Cruises and had seen Blue Whales, Humpback Whales and porpoises! I was jealous but had fun telling her about the Stellar Sea Lion I'd seen at Fisherman's Wharf just a few hours earlier. Then she noticed that there were people on the far side of the harbor photographing the Sea Otters! I thanked her for the tip and drove further down the Highway to Moss Landing State Beach.

From there I parked my car on Jetty Road then hiked down this access road, closed to vehicles but open to pedestrians.

Along the way I spotted dozens of sleeping Harbor Seals basking in the sun along the sandy beach.

Finally I arrived across from the restaurant and closer to the raft (group) of otters.

Some had even come out of the water and were playing along the shoreline.

It may make you sad to know that from the mid 1700's to the early 1900's, man had hunted the now protected otters to the point of extinction with only 1000-2000 known to be living in the wild. In total as many as half a million sea otters may have been killed for their their thick and beautiful furs almost eradicating the otters from the face of the earth. Now, their biggest threats are oil spills, parasites, disease and sharks.

I'm not sure if this one was yawning or talking.

The top image shows how their hind legs are more flippers than paws.

There were just over 20 total and most were cavorting, eating or grooming in the water. One of the first things I noticed was that some of the otters have more white colored faces and others are completely dark brown.

Today California's Sea Otters remain on the Endangered Species List. When oil spills happen the otters have no chance at survival because they depend on their fur, not blubber or fat, to keep them warm. Once the oil clings to their fur it loses all of it's insulating qualities and they'll suffer from hypothermia and freeze to death. Something to think about when oil drilling and transport occurs near their habitats.

I walked even further down the shore and found this chubby otter. I know nothing about otter pups or gestation periods but something about her rotund shape made me wonder if she was pregnant.

Her behavior reminded me of my dog Kitai. She was all sprawled out but when she heard my camera shutter release she flopped her head back to look at me without actually getting up. Kitai does that a lot once he's splayed out resting.

Later, I noticed a different otter in a typical grooming pose that also seemed rather dog-like.

Which was about when I had the good fortune of photographing this Brown Pelican in flight!

Unlike most smaller birds that fly so fast my camera has problems focusing on them, pelicans are large and heavy and fly so slowly that shooting these images was a breeze. The coolest part was that I was above them which gave me a less typical perspective of their feather patterns.

There were plenty of pelicans resting along the breakwater at the southern end of this section of the harbor so if pelicans are your thing, lunch at Sea Harvest followed by some pelican watching could make for a nice afternoon in Moss Landing.

The water is so clean and clear you can see right through it. They're not in this picture but there were more large jellyfish floating right off shore.

And a final shot of the white faced otter lounging on the shore that just makes me smile. Its little paddy paws were filled with wet sand. The otter is definitely one of the cutest and most endearing of creatures :)

Here's a little map to show you where I went that day. There are even more shops and restaurants if you continue down Sandholdt Rd. I plan to visit them on my next trip.

Pot Stop at Little Baja - website
2360 Highway 1
Moss Landing, CA 95039

Sea Harvest Restaurant
2420 Hwy 1
Moss Landing, CA 95039

Moss Landing State Beach - website
Jetty Rd
Moss Landing, CA 95039