We had unhitched the trailer, but still had the cargo box, bicycle and unicycle on top to give us height restraints when it came to parking.
I figured we could park far away and bike in, until we got there and were confronted with two obstacles. One the hills, anywhere far away enough to find free parking would mean a steep ride back. And then there were the parking restrictions which pretty much were limited to 1-2 hours unless you had a resident permit. Otherwise parking for the day ran anywhere from 15 to 30 dollars. We finally found parking at the Sardine Factory (a restaurant) with no height restrictions and at 20 bucks for the day was a bargain.
A quick hop, skip and a jump got us to the world famous Monterey Aquarium, or at least in line for the Aquarium.
We decided that the lunch at the aquarium was a bit exploitative, so headed out in search of something more affordable. Cut to us walking all over the place only to return to a seaside joint where we dropped around 30 buck for lunch. We managed to save some our leftovers, so it wasn’t quite so expensive, however…..They really lay it to you at these tourist spots.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I have some wonderful memories of aquariums such as Marineland and Sea World, however in the same way that circuses and zoos have fallen from grace as animal abuses have surfaced, the same can be said of aquariums especially when it comes to orcas and larger sea animals.
I was particularly disturbed when I visited the Atlanta Aquarium which boasts the largest tank on the planet where 4 whale sharks are in residence. The beluga whales swimming in tiny circles, rubbing themselves raw as they hit the clear glass, bore bad imagery in my mind.
So I was a bit wary waiting in line.
However the Monterey aquarium was sort of like the le cirque du soliel equivalent to the PT Barnum when it came to aquariums and animals.
They definitely were more concerned about the ecology as to the tourism. Education and connecting the exhibits to the local seascape and ocean were also priorities.
They did make attempts at showmanship with their jellyfish and seahorse exhibits.
Not quite as spectacular as whales and sharks but much more in line with our philosophies.
Actually the jellies were pretty frickin' amazing.
Growing up, beef jerky was a thing with my dad and I fondly remember making our own as well as savoring it on the trail.
Since then we’ve had our own jerky experiences while traveling back and forth across the US. We’ve sampled fresh jerkies from farmer’s markets and tried exotic meats such as elk, gator, ostrich, bison, and kangaroo.
So when we stumbled across, Jerkyville USA, Gourmet Jerky, well, how could I resist? We ended up leaving with a can of smoked rattlesnake, mushroom jerky, and an exotic collection that included the ones I’ve tried but that I thought would be fun to share with my friends at Burning Man.
In all of my time living on the coast I have never taken a whale-sighting tour. I also have never seen a whale in the wild. So it seemed appropriate to go ahead and give one a try while still on the coast.
We signed up for the last tour of the day so that we could squeeze in the aquarium. They also said that it was a bit gentler than the afternoon tour and that in the evening there was an interesting feeding cycle not seen in the day tours.
That said, as we watched the afternoon group exit, none with looks of amazement or awe, but more that were drenched and cold and uttering things such as , “I’ll never do that again” “I’m freezing” , etc.
With that we boarded.
Immediately, I was at peace being on the water. It had been far too long. And again I realized my connection to the sea.
Skye and I held post towards the front of the boat and spotted the whale spout before the guide who was also up front with us. I’ve always had an eagle eye and Skye has somehow captured that as well.
The next hour we pursued this one whale. We had the best seats of the house, paying for it with a roller-coaster ride, cold mists and refreshing ocean showers. I steadied Skye as she attempted to get some pictures of the Humpback whale we followed.
She got some shots and more likely than not, the best of the group. With that in mind take a gander at our whale tour. We did see a whale so their guarantee of seeing a whale was fulfilled. I was happy just to be on the open sea feeling the ocean-mist on my face. It was cold. And I did not envy the families that brought their youngsters.
When we got back to shore, we both had clam chowder on our mind. Got some to go and were very happy.
Several years back, when making one of our first transcontinental journeys, I realized early into the trip how impossible it would be to really take advantage of all the teachable moments that come up on the road.
We had just toured the Bioshepere 2, outside of Tuscon, which was mind-blowing. That could have been a week's worth of lessons in itself, but we had lots of geological stuff to go over, as well as history of the region and we would be in El Paso by the next day, which had a ton of very current and relevant social/cultural issues to address.
Monterrey was overwhelming. There is all of the marine biology and ecology. You've got amazing history. Then there's Steinbeck and the current migrant worker/ illegal immigration issues.
We downloaded and listened to Of Mice and Men. (In large part because it was short enough to work in)
The adventure continues.....
Of to the great Redwoods
Note--For some reason when I put certain pictures in the slide-show they come up side-ways even though they are t