Started at the Santa Barbara Mission, the "Queen of the Missions". Arrived early to photograph the facade before the tour busses arrived. Strolled through the gardens in the cool of the morning.
When the Mission began to get crowded, it was time to hit the Pacific Coast Highway 101. Plenty of state parks and roadside turnouts with vistas demanding to be photographed. The early morning fog was just beginning to burn off.
Just off the road north of the Hearst Castle is the Piedras Blancas Elephant Elephant Seal Sanctuary where these endangered animals have been coming since 1990. Heavily hunted in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for the oil from their blubber, the seals were reduced to fewer than 50 individuals. Gaining protected status in the twentieth century, the population has grown to over 200,000. The juveniles return for the molt in the summer to strengthen the muscles used on land and to promote bone growth with the stress of gravity, a stress missing at sea. For more information, see www.elephantseal.org.