Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures including contact numbers for key staff, and answer any questions you may have. The group will be accompanied by a naturalist throughout the program who will deliver educational content unless specified otherwise. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Dinner: In our meeting room at the lodge, child and adult friendly dinners will include salad, main dish, side dishes, dessert, milk, lemonade, coffee, tea, water.
Evening: Our naturalist will provide some background information about mammals in preparation for tomorrow’s field trip. Continue getting to know everyone, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
Activity note: Drive approximately 30 miles, about 45 minutes round trip. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day on dirt/gravel path, sand.
Breakfast: In our meeting room at the lodge, the breakfast buffet varies daily with choices including eggs, salsa, cereals, oatmeal, pancakes or French toast, breakfast meats, and fruit, plus coffee, tea, juices, water.
Morning: In our meeting room, our naturalist will conduct a background session to better understand one of the most fascinating species on earth, Elephant Seals. We’ll learn about their life cycle and behaviors before heading out on a field trip to see them live. Boarding our motorcoach, we’ll ride to Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. Walk along the ocean cliff to a secluded stretch of beach and hear them long before we see these massive, noisy giants of the marine world. Inflating their huge snouts, males can bellow loudly enough to be heard a mile away. The Northern Elephant Seal is the largest of its kind on the North Pacific coast. They come to the rookery only for breeding, molting, and to rest – otherwise they stay at sea. Elephant Seals have been recorded making the deepest dives of any mammal. Keep your eyes peeled for molted skin on the beach. We will then transfer to San Simeon State Park.
Lunch: At San Simeon State Park, we’ll have a picnic style boxed lunch including a sandwich, fruit, dessert, and water, followed by some time to splash in the water and enjoy some sun.
Afternoon: Next, we’ll walk up a path from the beach into the forest to learn about its ecology, from decomposers to bears and mountain lions. Search above and below as we join in on a scavenger hunt to find evidence of these creatures — bones, traces of skin, feathers — who knows what we might find! We’ll also play a camouflage game to learn how animals of the forest protect themselves from predators. See how and why animals do what they do and why a forest is important. Returning to the lodge, the remainder of the afternoon is free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Dinner: Lodge buffet.
Evening: We’ll be joined by a local falconer to learn about the ancient practice of falconry: hunting quarry with a trained bird of prey. We’ll learn about the history of falconry and how it’s used today. We’ll have a chance to meet some of the birds!
Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile, boardwalk. Sturdy, waterproof shoes required for tidepooling; walking sticks helpful but not required.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: After a short ride, we’ll explore the tidepools in Cambria and share our discoveries with each other. Search for sea anemones, eels, sea stars, snails, limpets, chitons, and possibly octopus in these amazing pools full of marine life. For those feeling adventurous, our instructor will boil some of the snails we’ve picked for a mid-morning snack! Then hop back aboard the motorcoach and ride into the historic village of Morro Bay.
Lunch: In Morro Bay, this meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The group leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
Afternoon: We will return to the motorcoach for a short ride to the Morro Bay boardwalk where we will have a leisurely walk. Morro Bay is a designated National Estuary. Its varied ecosystems abound in all kinds of wildlife. We’ll walk along the Morro Bay Boardwalk to see tidal flats and any wildlife that may be present. Our day continues with a ride to the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History. The museum is part of the California State Park system and serves large numbers of school kids as well as the general public. We’ll watch a movie in the auditorium and see exhibits and interactive, hands-on displays that help us learn about the estuary and bay ecosystems, wildlife, tidal forces, geology, and erosion, as well as human impact and how to preserve and protect the environment and its creatures. Ask the docents all of your questions! At the museum after our independent exploration, we will be joined by Pacific Wildlife Care staff for an introduction to the organization and their mission. PWC’s professional staff care for injured, orphaned, and pollution-damaged wildlife, rehabilitate them, and return them to the wild when possible. PWC responds to requests from the public for help with injured wildlife and is a primary response group in case of oil spills or other environmental calamities. We’ll get acquainted with some of the favorite mammal and avian “ambassadors” that are stars of PWC’s educational presentations. We will return to the lodge for free time.
Dinner: Lodge buffet.
Evening: Enjoy a relaxing movie night in the meeting room. Remember to pack to comfy pajamas!
Activity note: Drive is about 20 miles, approximately 20 minutes one way. Kayaking approximately 2-2.5 hours at a slow but steady pace; wear footwear that can get wet and muddy. A windbreaker or waterproof jacket is recommended.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet.
Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach and ride along the coast to Morro Bay for kayaking in its smooth, protected waters. We’ll begin with basic paddle and safety instruction led by our kayaking staff and naturalists, then head out in one or two person kayaks for a morning of easy paddling designed for beginners and all ages. Among the possible sights we’ll see are a heron rookery, a harbor seal haul out area, an oyster farm, and sea otters. We’ll then beach our kayaks on a secluded part of the sand dunes and go for a short climb to a hidden Chumash shell midden complete with stunning ocean views. Watch for nesting snowy plovers, a protected endangered species. You can also just kick back and relax.
Lunch: On the side of the sand dunes, enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch featuring locally grown ingredients such quinoa salad, green salad, meats, bagels, condiments, dessert, and assorted sodas, juices, and water, with beer and wine for adults.
Afternoon: A short paddle brings us back to the docks for our return to the lodge and a leisurely afternoon. The remainder of the afternoon is free time. Swim in the pool or go out to explore the town of Cambria.
Dinner: Lodge buffet.
Evening: In our meeting room, we’ll make a keepsake of our shared experiences using abalone shells and a Native American hand drill. This unique drill has an obsidian point and is amazingly efficient.
Activity note: Hotel check-out is by 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet.
Morning: Gather in the meeting room for a closing session to share experiences and exchange farewells with new Road Scholar friends. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and we look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!