There is just something about seeing wildlife in their natural habitat that makes me feel childlike with wonder and awe. I was staying in Seal Beach but there weren’t any seals. A friend, Theresa Mendoza, told me about La Jolle Cove, just north of San Diego where you can see seals and sea lions on he beach and rocks. I had to go. Aside from the jokes about being childlike for me is not too far of a stretch, it was amazing.

I parked my car and heard them as soon as I got out and started making my way down. The California coast is littered with great stretches of sandy beaches and impressive rocky faces. La Jolle Cove is a combination of both. There are a few places where people are hitting the surf but many places where the seals and sea lions own it.

I wandered down along the path. Kayaks were out in the water along with some swimmers. The seals and sea lions were sunning on the rocks or coming up on the beach. They must be used to people because they were allowing everybody, including me, to get close. I swear there was this one that was like, “take my picture, I’ll strike a pose!”

Even better, I saw pups at play. It was like watching two puppies. One had a feather or something in its mouth and was teasing the other one with it.

They look cute, but of course you have to be careful. Mothers will be mothers. I was not about to approach the pups as I knew mom wouldn’t be far away. They can’t move very fast on land, but they will chase you. Another friend I was talking to liked my description of seals being the “raccoons of the sea.” He was fishing the other day, finally caught his trophy salmon up in Oregon, and right as he was about to bring it in, a seal came up, stole it, and then ate it right in front of him. His feel on seals is very different than mine.

But it was great to see just another small piece of Southern California. I then made it back up to the LA area to have dinner with my cousin in a part of Disney that is open. Can you imagine Disney with empty parking lots? I saw it.

The following night, I had dinner with an old friend. Distance and lives separates us but there are still those strings from the past that attach us. She and her husband showed me another part of LA, their place, Huntington Beach (which Sunset Beach is a part of). She was telling me how they rarely ever leave the area. They are the “odd friends” who go outside of the area to visit other people. Most people just like to stay in their little piece of paradise.

I did finally realize something interesting: I wasn’t in Los Angeles, only LA County. I don’t think I was ever actually in LA except when I was on the freeway driving down from Nevada. I can see why people love it here and I also can see why people are leaving here. The weather and the escapes to nature, the beautiful beaches and the awesome sunsets can really capture people. The flip side is the expense and the constant crowds. California goes nuts on taxes. I swear if there was a way for them to tax the cup of coffee I made in my room, they would. My cousin was telling me the property taxes are ridiculous. A long time ago, they grandfathered in houses so they would only see a 1% increase per year, so you could be living next to someone that is paying what you might have paid in 1980.

There are attractions to every place I go, with each place a level of “pull” to return and see more. Los Angeles? I was here for a convention last year when I was in LA. Beaches just are not my thing except for quick walks. There is a slight pull to return and see and do more, explore more, but the counterweight is the crowds, taxes, traffic and just general noise.

I’ve been using my apple watch and this app to keep an eye on my sleep quality. For some reason, it dropped drastically when I came to California. Perfect is 1,000. I’ve been doing pretty well with high 600’s to 700’s. In Southern California, in plummeted to 200’s. I can’t seem to get any rest. I don’t know why? The mental “noise”? The air quality? Or maybe just a long road trip taking it’s toll.

But it’s time to start heading north. Time to start part two (or part eight) of the trip.