We woke to the welcome sight of rain. This is the rainy season in California, but they have had no rain this year! So we didn't mind. We just put on our rain gear and left for Muir Woods. We arrived and got to see the amazing redwoods and the state mollusk of California! Did you see the twitter photo? It can be much more yellow. Ours was just really slimy and super cute. Because of the rain, the creeks were finally running and rumor has it the delayed running of the salmon has begun. Our guide told us it would take two more days for the fish to make it to the park. I was reminded of the shad in the Potomac river.
Then we were off to Point Reyes State Park. Due to the rain we stayed only in the Bear Valley section. We walked along the San Andreas fault with no shaking, thank goodness. We did get to see the place where a fence had shifted 16 feet from the rest of the fence in the 1906 earthquake. So cool! While we were walking the trail we saw another banana slug!
Don't tell anyone, but I went back tot the warmth of the wood stove in the vistors' center while the others trudged up to the Mewak village recreation. I will do some research about them because they depended on the California oak acorns for food.
We are now back in San Francisco. I can't wait to share the rest of my trip with you all on Monday. Enjoy the ice!
So did you figure out that "red sky in the morning, sailors take warning" warns of bad weather arriving? After an entire week of beautiful blue skies, central California finally got some rain. Nothing like Seattle is getting, and the first rain in a month so we didn't feel so bad. Tomorrow promises to be much more rainy and colder. I guess winter has arrived.
We started the day at Natural Bridges state park which has had monarchs in huge cluster until about two weeks ago. We had a nice riparian walk and saw very cool rock formations...a bridge for one. Then we followed the advice of locals in Santa Cruz and headed into town to Lighthouse fields. There we found clusters on three different trees. It was below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, so no butterfly was even moving. They were in tight clusters and we loved seeing them there.
Back on the bus and off to see redwoods at Henry Cowell state park. The trees are the second largest in the world. Each tree had a cool name and history behind each name. I will share upon my return. We were actually able to fit 17 teachers inside one tree. It was once used as a "hotel" room in the late 1800's. I'll share more stories upon my return. Check out the twitter photos!
Now, get out some string and get ready to estimate the diameter of the largest redwood in Muir woods. I will measure and we can compare upon my return. Look for the photo tomorrow!
Did you see the tweets? Thanks to Mrs. Falker's and Mrs. Haynie's classes for tweeting back!
Today we drove through Santa Cruz where the mascot for the university is the banana slug...more on that later! We drove past all kinds of vegetable fields with way more food than our raised beds! Artichokes were my favorite.
We landed in Ano Nuevo with its gorgeous beach. On that beach we were 25 feet away from four male elephant seals. They stay off the main beach that we already saw because they are "loser" males and not allowed o be around the females. One was there because he had already been an alpha male and the others because they weren't old enough. Tough rules in elephant seal land! I can't wait to study more about them!
Next stop was back to Monterey to finally visit the most amazing aquarium. It is all about local water habitats. Fifth grade should come here! My favorite animals were in the picture I tweeted. Did you figure out what they were and even how many there were? Amazing! My second favorite were the jellyfish. Luckily I didn't have to touch them. Did you know the adults are called Medusas? Greek myth reference!
Tomorrow we head back up to San Francisco and then further north. Just wait till you see the trees! You'll need a piece of string to estimate how big the trunk is. I'll tweet you a photo!
We started the day in Pacific Grove. They call their town Butterfly Town. Their sanctuary is gorgeous and had two trees with clusters of monarchs. It was freezing cold, literally, and the butterflies were hunkered down to stay warm. We actually found a couple butterflies who had fallen on the ground and were too cold to fly back up to the tree. So I made like Ms. Romeo, the monarch whisperer, and breathed on one until he was ready to fly back up to a tree. We cheered for his as he flew. It warmed up quickly as the sun began to stream into the grove, but by then it was time to head to the local museum. There we saw stuffed animals of almost every species found here in the central coast including the Califonia Condor! I had no idea that the birds we saw yesterday circling around were really so big - more than ten foot wingspan!
After lunch in lovely Carmel, we headed to Point Lobos state park. There we walked through ancient cypress trees, saw GRAY WHALES spouting in the ocean, wondered at barking sea lions, laughed at otters riding waves, and were jealous of uber lazy harbor seals. Oh, and then we watched black tailed deer balance along the very steep hillside.
And...if you answered the twitter question correctly, you already know that the rock in the picture is the sedimentary rock with the funny name - conglomerate. Woohoo! There was one huge, really huge boulder with layers like lasagna of conglomerate and sandstone. I will show you the photo when I get back.
Awesome day today! If you see Mr. Weis, Mrs. Guerdat or Mrs. Freudiger please tell them thank you for figuring out the lessons for today! Check in on Twitter tomorrow for some amazing Monterey news.
No monarchs today, but we may have seen every other California animal. We started the day at tide pools. I learned that sea anemones cover themselves with stones to either keep the water in their bodies or hid them from predators. We showed up at low tide and were able to see sea stars, barnacles and tones of anemones - open and closed.
Our next stop was the amazing Piedra Blanco to witness the breeding grounds of the elephant seal. How is the elephant seal different from the seal lion or harbor seal? Just 20 short years ago people thought the elephant seal was extinct and then a colony from an island off the coast of Mexico was declared protected. Now there are hundreds on the beaches south of Monterey, breeding and calving from December to February. So cool! I have video that I will share upon my return.
As we drove up the coast on Hwy 1 we saw the spouts of gray whales. It looked like a concentrated spout of mist followed by slight movement in the water.
Driving past Hearst castle was the remnants of the zebra herd released by the Hearst family!
And then there was the California condors, 7 of them! Brought back from near extinction, we saw them come to roost before sunset.
The day ended with a peek into the first redwood forest! Pictures to follow!
Tomorrow is Pacific Grove butterfly sanctuary!
As I post this morning, it is 7:00 AM in San Francisco. Find my tweeted photo, it was taken yesterday down the street from out hotel. It is the Golden Gate bridge spanning the San Francisco Bay as it meets what ocean?
While you are answering that easy one, what kind of bridge is the Golden Gate? Your choices are girder, arch, truss, or suspension.
Teachers have already started arriving in San Francisco! No word on latest monarch counts. Getting the science lab ready for substitute teacher, Mr. Weis. I wonder what I will miss while I am gone?
The mystery of migrating monarch butterflies has captured the attention
of people throughout the world. East of the continental divide in North
America, monarchs generally migrate to central Mexico from as far away as
Ontario, Canada. Monarchs west of the divide fly to the coast of California
to spend the winter. They cluster together on tree limbs during the winter
months in California by the thousands, and in Central Mexico by the millions.
In California, migrating monarchs begin appearing along the coast in
October. There are over 300 overwintering sites from south of Ensenada,
Baja California, to north of San Francisco, in Sonoma County. By mid-
November, most monarchs have chosen their winter homes. The butterflies
diapause (hibernate) for several months. In late January warmer days and the
advent of spring stimulate mating activity. Female monarchs are the first to
disperse from overwintering sites. They fly inland, looking for early sprouts
of milkweed (Asciepias species) to deposit their eggs. By early March, overwintering
sites are abandoned.