Aside from the elephant seals I was also impressed by some other great beings on my California trip...the giant redwood trees. And a great place to see them is the Land of Medicine Buddha meditation and retreat center. The center is located on 108 acres of coastal foothills and is next to 10,000 acres of redwood forest. It offers a meditation trail which leads visitors on an exploration of the "Eight Verses of Mind Transformation" (you do not need to be a Buddhist to visit). I especially loved walking the trail and coming around the corner to discover treasures like the Buddha carving above. The combination of the redwoods and buddhas were not only visually stunning, but their serenity was palpable and one could truly feel a sense of awe and tranquility.
When we entered the retreat center we were greeted by huge redwood trees (above) and a giant prayer wheel (below) that you can turn. You can choose a mantra of your choice according to your need. I didn't know it at the time, but the prayer wheel physically contains at least 170,425,600,000 mantras inside. There is a great description of the wheel here.
Below my friend Jodi is turning the giant wheel.
Farther up the trail we were greeted by more prayer wheels and this awesome bell. There were detailed instructions on what to say when turning the wheels or ringing the bell.
At the end of the trail we found this temple which was closed but contained the largest Buddha I have ever seen. I wish we could have gone inside to see it better, but I was impressed nonetheless.
It was easy to feel serene and humbled while walking among these giants. And it's amazing to think how long these trees have stood in the same spot taking whatever comes there way. Come wind, rain or shine they stand steadfast as an example to us all.