Trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium (or Dealing with Ornithophobia)

Trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium (or Dealing with Ornithophobia)

So, the beginning of January was pretty quiet,  mainly because the hubby was gone from Jan 3 until Jan 15! He had a conference in Florida, then a short visit to see some family, then a pit stop in Texas for another work trip before he got to come back home. It may have been nice 5% of that time to have a little alone time/free time to clean and organize, etc without feeling annoyed because it was taking away from time I could spend with Derrick, but mostly it was supremely lame being alone for that long. Needless to say, I was very glad when he got back and now he doesn’t have to travel again for awhile.
One advantage of being alone and bored was that I was able to do more reading on the weekend and catching up on some TV shows that I watch that Derrick doesn’t care about so much (e.g. Once Upon a Time). I’m getting close to finishing Les Miserables, which I started right around the time I started my new job (so around 4 months ago) and I am looking forward to finishing it and moving on; I have to admit, I don’t think I “get” 19th century French literature…maybe I don’t know enough about French history to appreciate a lot of it and there are so many parts where we just go completely off the path of the narrative, so it’s been a tough read. At any rate, I guess I can give myself a pat on the back for reading it, but I don’t recommend it unless you are really into that time period of French history.
Anyway, since I have been a homebody lately with Derrick gone, he decided we needed to get out of the house and our weather here has been so nice (in the 70’s and sunny, although we also are in a major bad drought, so hopefully we do get rain soon), so we drove down to Monterey Bay last Saturday. It was a pretty nice drive and we also drove through two “capitals”
1) Gilroy, CA: Garlic Capital of the World (although this is apparently just a nickname but it is a lie and it is not the top city for garlic production) They do love their garlic
Garlic World was right before Garlic Shoppe...you think I can I get garlic here?
Garlic World was right before Garlic Shoppe…you think I can I get garlic here?

2) And Castroville, the Artichoke Center of the World (and it also happens to have kind of an interesting history…thanks wikipedia)

2014-01-18 15.47.05_2

Okay, so at any rate, we got to Monterey and went to the aquarium, which was so fun. I’m still a little kid when it comes to zoos and aquariums. I get really excited about them and the only difference between me and the kiddies is that they say out loud the things I think in my head (e.g. “WHOA look at that!” “This is awesome!” “I want one of those!”). The coolest part about this aquarium is that it sits right on the ocean and has several observation decks that you can go out on while you are at the aquarium. So you’re inside checking out the jellyfish exhibit, then you walk onto one of the decks and next thing you know, you see a jellyfish in the ocean, not in a display tank! (yup, that really happened! I also saw some sea otters (which are one of my favorite sea animals) and a seal or two. I know other aquariums sit on the water, but Monterey Bay is supposed to be a wildlife refuge/sanctuary or something like that so it is a prime location for seeing animals). Unfortunately, there are a lot of pigeons and seagulls hanging out on the observation decks and they fly around you and they’re pretty bold in how close they will get to you. Side note: So have we noticed I label myself with phobias quite frequently? Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting to all these irrational fears, but if you’ve ever seen me outside anywhere there are a lot of birds present (especially pigeons or seagulls), I freak out about every 5 seconds when they move. But we’re surrounded  by a lot of other people, so I was trying not to look ridiculous but those dang things just scare me, so  I may or may not have jumped a few times when a shadow of a bird passed over me or a seagull landed on the deck railing. Also, the aquarium has an aviary, and normally you would not convince me to go in one because, well, it’s birds. able to fly. in a confined space. with me trapped in that confined space. See my point? But Derrick convinced me to walk through it and thankfully the birds in there didn’t seem to want to fly around, so it was a lot less stressful than I had anticipated. Phew.

They had penguins and jellyfish and sea otters and then their big exhibit (1.2 million gallons of water) called the “open ocean” or something like that. We happened to get to the aquarium right around the time they were doing the feeding, so we watched that and it was pretty crazy. We saw a similar exhibit when we went to the Atlanta aquarium where they basically just feed in chum and the feeding frenzy is on. This open ocean exhibit had a school of sardines that get fed after all the bigger fish/sharks (because they don’t want the sardines to be mistaken for lunch) and I don’t know that I’ve ever really seen a big school of fish like this:

2014-01-18 11.03.33 HDR 2014-01-18 11.03.50 2014-01-18 11.09.25 HDR

After the aquarium we walked around the area a little bit (Cannery Row; I’m sure there’s a lot more interesting history that I could tell you about Cannery Row, but I actually haven’t really read too much about it myself) and ate lunch at The Fish Hopper, where I saw more sea otters from our table because the restaurant is built right on the water and we had a good window seat. I also learned that I like clam chowder. A lot. Especially with sourdough bread. They were giving out free samples of their chowder at their little market next to the restaurant when we were leaving and I was pretty tempted to take another taste 🙂

We thought after lunch that we would go drive the 17-mile drive, which is a 17 mile (duh) route through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove and it is supposed to have really breathtaking views and they charge you like $10/ car to drive it. We were trying to find how to get to the road, but it was getting pretty trafficky and we were already driving along the water and saw this cool outcropping of rocks and we decided to save the 17-mile drive for another time and just go explore the coast. We found out that where we had stopped is called Lover’s Point (and when I googled it while working on this post I found out that originally Pacific Grove was a Methodist retreat camp and that the name was supposedly called “Lovers of Jesus Point”…according to local legend and the Monterey County tourism site). At any rate, I don’t know how to describe how beautiful it was, so I’ll just show some pictures:

2014-01-18 14.14.11 2014-01-18 14.35.50 2014-01-18 14.40.31 2014-01-18 14.40.55 2014-01-18 14.41.14 2014-01-18 14.41.36 2014-01-18 14.43.40 2014-01-18 14.55.14 2014-01-18 14.55.47 2014-01-18 14.57.06 2014-01-18 14.57.08 2014-01-18 14.58.05 2014-01-18 15.07.16

We climbed out to the point and just sat in the sun, listening to the ocean waves lap up on the rocks and it was so relaxing and beautiful, and I felt very blessed that we were able to enjoy yet another part of God’s awesome creation. I think we stayed out there an hour (we were also fortunate that it was a nice, balmy 74 degrees, so even on the ocean with the breeze, we were not freezing!) and then we decided to head home.

I think one of my favorite parts about Lovers Point was when the waves would violently crash on the rocks and the water would foam and spray. It made me think of the Little Mermaid when she is singing “Part of your World” and she comes out of the water on the rock…see, all I’m missing is a mermaid:

Part_of_your_world_(reprise)2014-01-18 14.58.56 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also there were very few birds out at the point which made me happy. There’s a big park behind it and that’s where they all hang out trying to get people food.

Monterey may be one of my favorite adventures so far and I recommend it if you’re ever coming out this way and want to enjoy a beautiful coastal experience 🙂

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