This morning we woke up in Monterey, California, in what would become our favorite hotel of the trip. Mom relaxed and read her book, while I furiously worked to edit photos, write blog posts and upload pictures to Facebook. Tagging is tough business!
Just after noon, we decided to venture out in search of the local Post Office, as I had a birthday present to send to Colorado and the beautiful Anne. We also had just enough time left to take the 17-Mile Drive at Pebble Beach before meeting up with my cousin Sally, who lives in Carmel. I left the Nikon D80 in the room, fully intending on using my little Sony Cybershot for any sightseeing we’d be doing in the next two hours.
We found the Post Office and once our small fleet of postcards were on their way to their final destinations, we paid our $9.50 entry fee to take the scenic drive through Pebble Beach. At the 5th point of interest along the 17-Mile Drive — The Spanish Bay — I got out to take a photo, only to find out that my camera’s battery was dead. Luckily, my cell phone came in handy for a few memories: Spanish Bay, Bird Rock and The Lone Cypress. I also took a picture of Chatillon Sur Mer, a ginormous house (we’re talking hotel-sized here, people), that because it belongs to rich people probably is only lived in a few months out of the year. Craziness.
Mom and I met up with Cousin Sally, who is Mom’s brother’s daughter, and headed into downtown Monterey to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The aquarium is beautiful and very spacious — I’ve been to both the Baltimore and Georgia Aquariums, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium has hearty, wide corridors. We got lucky as the place was pretty deserted, but I could see how with crowds of people (and strollers) how nice it would be to navigate through these halls. A quick step out onto one of the decks on the Bay-side of the building revealed a small tidal pool between the aquarium’s buildings. We tried to spot otters, seals, sea lions and whales out in the Bay, but didn’t have any luck; I kept seeing a diving bird that I thought was an otter.
We did, however, see two otters playing in the aquarium itself, as well as a couple energetic penguins. Cousin Sally likes to visit the aquarium, and learned by watching a keeper one day that the penguins will “chase” a tissue if you wiggle it on the outside of the glass. We got a big kick out of watching them splashing after a Kleenex!
This aquarium has a large children’s exhibits area; flamingos; sea horses; a 28-foot tall/deep kelp forest with schools of sardines, leopard sharks and rockfish; jelly fish and sea nettles; and a gigantic “deep water” tank that showcased fish from the outer bay, including tuna, sardines, sharks and dolphinfish.
It seemed to both Mom and I that the Monterey Bay Aquarium didn’t have a lot of exhibits considering the amount of space that the aquarium itself occupied… but the wide aisles and building materials (the stone/tile floors!) impressed me, and I found the Outer Bay exhibit to be incredibly peaceful and calming… just silver fish swimming past in a field of blue, a constant rhythm of clockwise motion.