Day 30: Elkhorn Slough – Karen & Lawrence’s for dinner

A fun day!  Knowing that so far I had not seen an otter despite looking for one at Point Lobos, Monterey, and Santa Cruz, Erik proposed we go kayaking at Elkhorn Slough (pronounced slew).  Elkhorn Slough is an estuary and wildlife santuary near Moss Landing.  On previous occasions kayaking there sea lions & otters had surfaced right beside Erik & Maria and played around their kayaks.  This sounded great to me so we phoned TS to invite her to come too, ate hearty breakfasts to sustain us, consulted the Elkhorn Slough website for tide information, packed the kayaks into TS’s car and we (Disa, Scott, Erik, Mary, TS & Flaka) were off.  A couple of interesting sidenotes here.  Although TS is of a certain age and retired and Erik a few years older they both have their own kayaks.  In fact the first time I met TS, a few weeks earlier, she had just finished a white water rafting trip with her son Larry who is a rafting guide.  Do I have cool in-laws or what!  Also TS has a car that doubles as her camping van, has approx 37 cup holders and a sliding side door that closes at the push of a button (seriously it slides slowly closed and firmly latches with no effort from anyone – my most recently owned van’s sliding door tested the patience of most everyone who had to close it from the inside).  Anyway we needed to wait for an incoming tide for an hour and a half so first went to Phil’s seafood restaurant.  Maria had taken us here before but this time we had breakfasted too heartily so Disa & I shared one meal while Mary, TS & Erik shared another before lurching out to view the sea lions feeling stuffed to the gills.

By now the tide had turned so we went off to Elkhorn Slough and unloaded the car.  Next up the inflating of the kayaks (2) and raft (1) by use of 2 hand pumps.  This was fun especially on an overfull stomach with TS shaming me by spelling me (I had to stop frequently so I wouldn’t vomit).  After half an hour or so the kayaks & raft were inflated and a puncture fixed (by Erik) and we were ready to launch.  Erik & TS had a kayak each, Disa & I shared the raft and Mary stayed on shore with Flaka.  It was very enjoyable and relaxing on the water especially with Disa paddling and me not paddling.  We spent a very pleasant half hour not seeing otters then Erik commented that although he had remembered to leave his keys and digital camera on shore he had forgotten to leave his mobile phone behind and had it in his pocket.  No sooner had he finished speaking than said phone rang.  It was Erik Bro.  His usual afterwork activity was not on and he was stranded in Gilroy.

We paddled back to shore, deflated & packed equipment and were off.  The whole time Erik was trying to phone the service that would normally collect Erik Bro after his afterwork activity was finished as they have strict penalties.  This was easier said than done.  First the signal kept cutting out then Erik was stuck on answering machine hold for ages before being cut off at least twice.  Eventually he finally got through by delibrately pressing the incorrect buttons and speaking to a person.  All’s well that ends well.  Mandie had collected Erik and taken him home and we arrived shortly after just in time to shower and go to Karen & Lawrence’s for dinner.

Karen & Lawrence & baby Francesca live in Boulder Creek.  This is a small village, up in the mountains, surrounded by redwood forest and is very beautiful and delightfully cool.  Their lovely house is surrounded by decking full of plants Lawrence has rescued from the rubbish at the plant nursery he works at and nursed back to robust, spectacular health.  So they have the best of both worlds, native forest surrounding their house and heaps of non-natives in pots.

We enjoyed their company and hospitality.  Heard about their recent trip to Europe.  Ate an amazing meal prepared by Karen.  Slept in their guestroom.