Rob on the Road: A Decade of Destinations – California's Coast
Rob: Coming up on Rob on the Road - A Decade of Destinations. In this episode we explore California's Coast. From the untamed beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore to Muir Beach, one of northern California's prettiest and most family friendly beaches. Plus, we encounter elephant seals at Ano Nuevo State Reserve and see how the California coastline becomes an outdoor classroom at NatureBridge on the Marin Headlands. Rob on the Road starts now! Annc: And now Rob on the Road Exploring Northern California Rob: We all need a place of peace and the Golden State shoreline is sure to deliver, with more than a thousand magnificent miles of coastline.
We begin in Marin County at Point Reyes National Seashore, one of the most visited locations in the National Park System. Point Reyes has a bounty of beauty, including this spot, Tomales Point. (woosh) ♪♪ >>Oh John, this is breathtaking! Look at this view. This is Tamales Point?
>>This is Tamales Point, and it's also referred to as the Tule Elk Range. >>Yeah, we saw a lot of elk on the side of the road, dozens of elk as we drove out here. >>That's right. There are about 450 elk just located on this peninsula here. >>Why here? Why this area? >>These elk, first of all, are endemic to California. They are found nowhere else.
And one point in time, there was about a half a million Tule Elk in California. Those numbers dwindled to very low double-digits if not only single-digits. Nobody knows for sure.
The elk were introduced here back in 1978 with a very small number, about a dozen animals. And now we're up to over 450 of them. >>Standing here is just magical. This view really is stunning. I've been all across this state. I have not seen a prettier spot. >>This is a very spectacular area.
We have Tamales Bay and all of it's tributaries like Walker Creek just right in front of us. That's just one-half of the view. The other half is the Pacific Ocean. So you can take it all in with this one point here. >>And it's so vast. You really feel
the enormous size of the ocean because it surrounds you. >>It really does. >>This is a really great place for people to come in groups. But it's also a great place to come by yourself. I would like to come by myself and sit and soak all of this in. >>You know, the whole point of solitude is really reinforced in my mind when I come to work everyday.
And yeah, there are places where it's very busy at the seashore? And there are places where you can get away. >>So is it okay for people to come off the road, like we're doing here, and walk over to the grassy area? Is this alright? >>It is alright. We don't always encourage it. It's certainly fine to do. We encourage people to stay on the hiking trails that we have. We have 150 miles of hiking trails here plus 80 miles of beaches and coastline.
>>Tamales Point, this is stunning! And we have a lot more to see! >>We do, we do! ♪ >>John, this is a must-see at Point Reyes National Seashore. These bluffs are stunning. >>They really are. This is truly an amazing place.
I'm glad that you've got that experiencing it for the first time. >>Well, it took my breath away when we turned towards this corner. >>These are the cliffs of Drake's Beach or Drake's Bay. And we can go back several hundred years when Francis Drake in 1579 brought his ship into this bay here.
>>Here? >>Right here! And these cliffs reminded him of the Cliffs of Dover. >>They certainly look like them! >>And to see them in the early morning light or the evening light (they change color with the sunset) it's a very dramatic area. >>And they're massive! >>They're about 100 to 150 feet high in various locations. It's very unique along the California Coast to see this kind of formation right on the beach. >>And so behind you is Chimney Rock? >>That's right! So that area right over there is the Point Reyes Headlands. It's kind of a hammer-head shaped peninsula: Chimney Rock on one end and the Point Reyes Lighthouse on the other side of it which we can't see from this angle.
>>And how far is it to get over there because that's where the elephant seals are? >>From Drake's beach, it is about a 15 to 20 minute drive to get out to the headlands. >>Well, let's check it out ♪ >>So this is as close as we want to get so as not to spook them. >>Oh look at those teeth! Hi! ♪♪ ♪♪ Rob: How long have you worked here? >>I've been here 27 years! >>Do you still see the majesty? >>Daily! It's such a spectacular area that seasonally? There are different things going on from migration of different species. From year 'round? You have great things to observe everyday like the elk or the lighthouse, the signification of the ranching history, and the coast Miwok Indian history. It's such a rich area in both human history and natural history? You don't tire of this place. It is truly a magical place.
>>John, thank you so much >>Thanks for experiencing it, Rob. >>Oh, I wouldn't have traded it for the world. It's excellent to see you! This is a great getaway. >>It is, thanks! ♪♪ (Woosh) ♪♪ ♪♪ We're taking you exploring and on a beautiful journey today at Muir Beach, here with Steve Schaffer. Good to see you, Steve. >>Nice to see you, Rob.
>>Thank you for having us out here. >>It's fantastic, I'm glad you're here. >>What a beautiful day. And you see people walking along, including a surfer (hey there!) headed out to the beach on this beautiful bridge, which takes us to one of the prettiest beaches I've seen. >>This beach is magnificent.
>>It is magnificent. This is a community beach, as well as a great getaway on a day-trip. >>It is. I- I- I mentioned this before, but it's- it's- it's a two, uh, faceted place. We have the community, which is a fantastic, uh, place for most people who live here; everybody loves it.
>>Less than 150 homes. >>149, to be exact. >>Mmhmm. >>And then, of course, it's a destination for visitors.
Which- which, sometimes our goals aren't always the same, but we're able to live in harmony. >>And you live in harmony right next to each other, because the homes are right there, the parking area is right here inside the Golden Gate recreational area. And the word is getting out...
>>Yeah, well that- I think that's- that's, um- was foreseeable. There was really nothing anybody wanted to do to keep it a secret. I mean, it's a beautiful place.
Everybody should be able to enjoy it. >>This bridge was rebuilt in 2013, which takes you past Redwood Creek. >>Correct.
>>A beautiful creek that weaves through these wetlands that are also being restored, and you've been able to watch this entire progress. >>Yes, and actually, this- this creek restoration has been spectacular because we now are seeing, this year, just recently, we're seeing steelhead and salmon back up this creek again. >>This project, in 2013, was to really open up, in a grander way, Muir Beach to a day-trip. A getaway, would you say? >>Yeah, I- I think that's fair.
I think so. It's, um- it would really be nice- one of the things that- that's still a problem for the park service is that this is a destination for Saturdays and Sundays. >>Mmhmm. >>It would be nice if there was a way to spread it out through the week more, for everybody.
For the residents, for the people who come here. It's- it- it is a little bit of a problem on some nice weekends where there's an awful lot of people here. But then weekdays, like today, nobody. It's fantastic. >>This beautiful location is nestled in the Golden Gate recreational area.
We're three miles from the world-famous Muir Woods. >>Correct. >>You can't beat this location. >>You cannot beat this location.
>>Well let's show everyone why. ♪♪ As you walk along on the way out to the beach, you see hiking trails everywhere. >>Correct. >>So you really are in the middle of a thriving recreation area. >>It's very much like it was many, many years ago. And that's one of the beauties of going on these trails.
You're- you're seein' the way it was for people in the 1800s when they were here. >>Wow. >>Yeah, it's pretty spectacular. >>It's a beautiful walk out here, Steve.
Less than a quarter of a mile from the parking area. And this is why you do it. This is spectacular. >>Yeah, this is just about as amazing as it gets.
Um, I- I can't- I like to think that sometimes, I've been here 28 years- sometimes even I catch my breath. >>I believe it, and I see why. This is such a serene beach. ♪♪ And now you see people just having a ball out here, couples sitting, relaxing. I saw people having picnics earlier, kids playing everywhere.
>>It's a fantastic place. This is a beautiful, beautiful area. I mean, when you- when- when you turn this camera around at some point and look at this, this isn't a special day, this is every day. This is what it looks like here in our neighborhood. >>I love what you just said, "this isn't a special day, this is every day."
And this is your front yard, Steve. >>It is, indeed. It's- it's all these people's front yard and- and, again, it's a fantastic community. Y'know, it's a bunch of people that still do things together, still respect each other, still love each other.
I- I just can't think there'd be any place else like this left in the world. >>That's- that's not a bad way to feel. [laughing] >>That's not a bad way to feel.
>>And so if you had to describe the... majesty. Because I looked up a lot on Muir Beach, and I kept seeing the word "majestic" If you could put this into words, how would you do it. >>I don't think you can. I think you gotta come here and stand.
>>This beach was closed for pretty much all of 2013 for the restoration efforts, but I'd say this was worth the wait. Would you? >>Uh, well certainly. The, uh- the work that the park service did was- was done in a very, very professional way, and they did a very good job, and I- and I think it took somewhat longer than they anticipated, but... y'know, it- it- sometimes you gotta give something up in order to get somethin' back. >>Well, and you know, I- I was gonna ask you what is it you think about when you're out here walking the beach, but you know what I think the beauty of it is is that I don't think about anything when I'm out here walking the beach.
>>You- you- you hit the nail on the head. That's- that's the way we all are, all of us who live here. It's- this is just, it's home, that's it.
>>Not a bad home. >>Not a bad home. ♪♪ (Woosh) Rob: Still ahead, a hike you are sure to enjoy along the Marin Headlands, but first an encounter with one of nature's largest and loudest mammals - the elephant seal! ♪♪ We're right here in the middle of this group of elephant seal pups to, to tell you all about this fascinating place here with Ranger Ziad Bawarshi.
Good to see you. >>Good to see you, Rob. >>Thanks for having us, and it's amazing that we're just an hour or so south of San Francisco.
>>That's correct, yeah- yeah. They're here at Año Nuevo State Reserve, out at Año Point where thousands of elephant seals will conjugate every winter, uh, for the breeding cycle. >>Alright, let's go see some seals. How many are out here? >>Right now, at the peak of the season we have about- close to four thousand elephant seals.
>>Four thousands. >>Uh, between the- between the adult males, females, pups and the weaned pups. >>How close can we get? 'Cause we're pretty close right now. >>Yeah, y'know, we can get within about 25 feet before they start reacting to us. >>Meaning charge? >>Not- not so much charge, but just get uncomfortable and have to move their positions, y'know.
Our role here is to kinda balance the protection of the seals with the visitors interest in understanding more about 'em. >>So Ranger, this is a good example of the harems with the bull. >>Correct. >>Tell me about these. >>So you'll notice, uh, at least four different clusters of animals. And each cluster consists of mostly females with their pups, nursing, and then at least one, uh, dominant bull that's right in the center of the group.
>>That noise that sounds like knocking was actually one of the males, right? >>Exactly. Yeah, if you look over there he's movin' around. >>Oh yeah, he's comin' this way.
>>And so that's about the size of, uh, of an alpha male, and what he was doing is what we call a threat call. >>To us? >>Not to us, to other elephant seal males. And he will, um, often times just rear his head and vocalize. And you can see exactly what's happening. That bull that's too the left was a little too close... >>Oh! >>...to the harem,
and he felt he wanted to get him out of the picture. So, you have to conserve energy, they've got this great vocalization and they can rear up and send out that sound in- in- in hopes that that bull will react and leave. >>And people get to come right here and see this year round. Tours come through here. Talk about an animal adventure, this is one.
>>Uh, I'd agree, yeah. This is one of the- the few places around where you can get right in the middle, practically, of- of rookery, um, with animals this size. Y'know, males four or five thousand pounds, females with fifteen hundred pounds. The whole nursing, and mating, and fighting, uh, rituals that go through, and people are right there witnessing what's going on.
>>So... to make that in size for you, four or five thousand pounds would be like an SUV. >>Like the size of an SUV. >>Fifteen hundred pounds would be like... a cow. How long can these animals live? >>The males have a shorter life span; they'll go to fifteen, sixteen years old.
Um, the females will go into their early twenties. >>And if I'm not mistaken, in the 1800s these elephant seals were considered extinct. >>They though, um, they had lost the species, yeah.
>>Wow. >>And so they did find a small group on a remote island off of Baja and from, we think, under 100 individuals. We have now about 180 thousand elephant seals.
♪♪ >>On the tour, on the way up here, because that's one of the really cool things about this experience, is the interactive tour. >>Mmhmm. >>Walking out here to get to all of the locations, you learn a lot. >>In essence, the poor female is either always pregnant or nursing, through her entire, once she reaches adulthood and maturity, at the age of about three.
♪♪ >>So right here we have a couple wean pups. We'll stop right here and take- take a look at these guys, and- so these- these animals are anywhere between 30 and, I'd say, 70 days old. >>That's it? >>Yeah. >>Boy, they grow fast. >>They grow fast, they're puttin' on a lot of weight.
At birth, they're about 60 pounds, and they nurse- are with their mom for about 28 days. >>Mmhmm. >>In that 28 days, they quadruple their weight. >>And it's interesting because so many of- gosh, there's a huge one right there, too- so many of these elephant seals will go, as you said, halfway to Japan and come back, right to the same spot next year. >>Yeah, yeah.
That's what's unique amongst the seals, I mean they're probably one of the longest migratory animals in the world. They'll- they'll cover ten thousand miles in a year, in that migration twice a year. >>That elephant seal is looking at us, should we move? >>Uh, he could probably care less about us, but... [laughter] >>...yeah, we can- we can get going to our next spot. >>Alright, great.
Let's go. So how fast can these animals run, or move? >>On sand, they can move faster than us. >>Wow. >>So, I'm guessin', uh, at full speed, ten, fifteen miles an hour.
Now, it's for short distance. Really, outside of Africa, this is probably one of the greatest one of experiences. The birds, y'know, there were 350 species of birds inside of here. So it's really kinda the uniqueness, its proximity to such metropolitan area, and you can still get away and, y'know, experience a wild place. And- and you see that in the visitors faces and- and obviously the staff is always in awe of the place.
♪♪ I can't think of any other location in California that you get this type of view. >>That's one of those places where you go and you forget about everything else going on in your life, y'know. >>Yeah, yeah. And I think in this day and age, people need that.
And so, um, y'know, more- more than ever, this place has become popular, uh, and we- we think it's great. >>One of the reasons why we did this show is because we wanted to show people that there's so many wonderful things right in your own backyard in California to do. I mean, just look right there.
>>Yeah, absolutely. >>You got a pretty cool job. >>Yeah, it's not bad.
It's not bad at all. >>Well, Ranger Ziad Bawarshi, so good to see you. Thank you for havin' us here.
>>Thanks for comin' out. >>At Año Nuevo State Park. (Woosh) ♪♪ ♪♪ You've got a great group of kids behind you, and tell us where they're from? >> Delta Elementary School in Clarksburg near Sacramento. And that's the whole purpose here at the NatureBridge is to literally bridge students with nature outside of the classroom. Tell me about that. >> Well it's a really great experience for the students to come out and get to experience nature in nature's classroom outside. They learn about a lot of different things in the classroom and when they're with us here at NatureBridge they get to experience it.
They get hands on, they get to feel it, touch it and just see it in action. And you couldn't have picked a more beautiful setting. >> It's a great place to be, this is a fantastic national park.
So what is the mission of this for you? To have students spend time outside and get an appreciation for nature and get an appreciation for the environment in the world around us and to want to care about it and take care of it. Do you see lives being changed here, light bulbs going off, Aha moments? >> Almost every week. A lot of students come out and they just like.. I get it, I see it and we have students that come out here and they see the nature, they see the animals. They want to do something to help it, to make sure that we have it for future generations.
Well, there's a lot to see and a lot to get. Students, are you having fun? Yeah! Alright let's keep hiking. ♪♪ Matt, just look at the view that all of these students are being exposed to. Tell me about this beautiful area. >> Well, we're in the Marin Headlands section of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
We're standing next to Rodeo Lagoon, overlooking Rodeo Lagoon. Fort Cronkhite is off in the distance on the other side. >> And what is it exactly that you want these students to take away from here? >> Just the beauty of this place and looking at the different habitats that we're hiking through and learning about how different organisms survive in these different habitats, using their different adaptations. That leads into wanting to take care of it and we're going to talk more about stewardship and learning to take care of the environment later on in this week. So some of the students here will take what they learn out here in the field into the classroom.
>> That's our hope, we hope some so, that when you go back home you do take some of the things that you learned here and apply them to your everyday lives, whether it's in the classroom or back at home. Alright. Well, on the count of three everybody say "Let's hike!" one, two, three! Let's Hike! ♪♪ What's the Hardcore Club? Well, you have to eat the apple fully, like everything in it, seasonal.
Seasonal? Yeah. You want to try it? okay. Start from the bottom. ♪♪ What have you thought about this experience? >> Well, I think it's really inspiring to help kids to like.. to make sure they eat all their stuff, not to waste anything and help the environment a lot.
♪♪ So Matt's telling the group of students that he's brought them down to the pond where they're going to be biologists now for this part of the trip. You're going to reach into the pond, you're going to scoop around and you're going to collect what I like to call "muck", okay? So a little bit of dirt and a little bit of muck, but not much. Some dead leaves, some dead sticks and hopefully some invertible, some critters in here.
♪♪ What is on my shoulder? It's a bug. It is an insect. ♪♪ well, we're searching for little invertebrates that live in our pond. >> Oh yeah.. and they're going to take these back to the lab? We are, we're going to take them back to the lab and we're going to use our microscopes to try and identify what we have.
>> And the point of that is Biology. Biology, to find out the health of the water here, the more diversity we have, the more healthy our pond is going to be. >> We got it! Eeew, I got it! >> Good one! Get it in... nice! I was watching earlier and all along the hiking trail, each stop, nature was applied to these student's lives.
Yeah, we weave it into everything. They are a part of nature, nature is a part of them. It's integral.
It all works together, it's all interconnected. That's what we really try to make sure they're getting while they're here. "The yarrow is a native plant, it belongs here and the Native Americans.."
♪♪ So Averie, tell me about an animal you learned about that you didn't know about? The starfish because I figured it out that it had no blood in it.. No blood? I didn't know that. Yeah, it was really cool. I think that it's a lifelong lesson we teach here not just to teach them science and to be out and experiencing but to be away from home for a little bit, to kind of push your comfort zones as a 4th, 5th or 6th grader.
It's kind of a pivotal time and I really think that getting them to understand how important learning and science and nature is, is the most important piece of it and if I can do that, that's what really makes me happy and keeps me passionate. One of the things I love about exploring California is that you find places that people will remember for the rest of their life and this is definitely one of them. >> It's good to hear you say that. Thank you so much, here at the NatureBridge here in the Marin Headlands in Marin County.
(Woosh) Rob: We hope you've enjoyed this mini vacation along California's Coast! Check out all of our destinations at robontheroad.org. We'll see you next time! ♪♪