From snow to sea otters and other stories

Now what, you might well ask, has a snowy runway got to do with gardens? Not a lot, but for the fact that this was the scene awaiting me in Dallas, Texas on Thursday, en route to San Francisco from Florida. This snowy tableau nearly stymied me and if it hadn't been for the de-icing trucks I'd still be sitting there!

It's hard to believe that within minutes of take off, the scene outside looked like this, with blue skies and puffy clouds, but I did notice there was lots of snow on the ground as we flew from Texas to California, and when I finally reached San Francisco (albeit four hours late), the sun was shining and I emerged like a stunned mullet into warmer temperatures than Florida.

I'm now staying at Moss Landing, CA some two hours south of San Francisco on Route 1 and went on an amazing boat trip this morning, up into Elkhorn Slough - a beautiful estuary -where the mammal and bird life is quite remarkable. It seems that about half of California's sea otter population (above) was in the sheltered harbour today, and they kept popping up all over the place! Apparently it is unusual to see so many in one place, so I feel incredibly lucky to be here.

This place is ranked as one of the top birding sites in the US, and in our short trip yesterday, we saw more than 35 different shore and sea birds, but the real stars of the show were the sea otters, who kept cavorting in front of us! So what you might well ask, has all of this to do with gardens?? And the answer is very little, but I wanted to tell my readers about this wonderful place, because it is well located to visit gardens here in California and if you like birds as well as flowers, you might just want to check it out!

I'm back on the gardening trail tomorrow, and hoping to visit some smaller gardens in the Big Sur area, with a stop at Filoli on the way to San Francisco, so hope you'll check in after the weekend. In the meantime, hope that Valentine's Day brings some big hearts your way! The sea otters have certainly won mine.

seals on the beach in Elkhorn Slough

**We're staying at the Captain's Inn in Moss Landing - it's a perfect B & B overlooking the water, and part of the CABBI collection. When making recommendations like this, I'd like to emphasise that it's my personal view. I do not accept invitations to visit accommodation or restaurants and always pay my own bills.


  1. What a wonderful trip aside from the yucky snow! I just love otters. Such character they have!

  2. Dear Charlotte, What a contrast from those icy wastes to the warmth of the San Franciscan sun. The sea otters look absolutely remarkable and I do think that you have been very fortunate to see so many at one time in one place.

    I shall be most interested to read what you have to say about Filoli.

  3. I'm so glad you had a chance to go to Elkhorn Slough. We take it for granted here, but it really is wonderful place with quite a diversity of wildlife. We're so lucky to live so close.

  4. Wow, where do you find all of these great travel destinations? Love those sea otters and seals! One more added to my list of must-sees! Thanks for taking us along.

  5. I adore sea otters. Lucky, lucky you, to see them in the wild like that. :) It was fortunate indeed that you didn't get stranded in Dallas!

  6. Welcome to our snowy land of America. You are staying in a beautiful part of our west coast. Thanks for sharing the snaps.

  7. Charlotte - this looks like a fabulous place - one to add to my wish to visit list!! You must be having such a good time... bon weekend Miranda x

  8. Sea otters really have their own special charm. I adore them. Have a wonderful Valentines weekend! :)

  9. Thank you so much for including Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing on your blog. In our humble opinion, all gardens should have a sea otter. We are spoiled with sea otters in the backyard and out the windo, and are happy to share them with others. For those that have not had the pleasure to meet her, we are quite pleased to have Charlotte as our delightful, witty, easy going guest. We find her photographs like that avocet and otter just stunning, and this blog just makes us want to follow her explorations. -- Captain Yohn and Innkeeper Melanie

  10. How wonderful to read about your travels and to see these images! Loved the sea-otters!

  11. Awesome pics! I love the one from the sky :D


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