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Published: September 20th 2012
Day 13 - Marina Dunes to Monterey Bay and back, Distance Travelled - 24 miles
Well today was meant to be another highlight as we were off on the high seas to find Blue and Grey whales, hopefully with the added bonus of the sight of a bloodthirsty pack of Orcas hunting them down (but of course not succeeding cos we love Whales!). Sadly it was not to be as high winds at sea cancelled the afternoons sailing although the weather looked lovely from where we were, it's been glorious sunshine all day.
In the morning we headed into downtown Monterey for a bit of sightseeing and a trip to the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Sadly the town of Monterey did not appear to be in a very RV friendly mood today and the RV car park closest to the aquarium was closed for a civic function (the unveiling of a new fleet of town buses!) and other carparks in the area were restricted to 26 foot RVs (ours is 30)...so after a couple of 'tense' laps of the town we settled on parking back in the Marina car park, a couple of miles walk away from the
aquarium. Now as you probably know, walking isn't our thing and we have done a lot of it on this trip so today's 4 mile roundtrip did not amuse ;-)
The good thing about the walk is it takes you round the harbour before heading into town and you suddenly realise why Monterey is so famous for its Marine life and conservation work. In the harbour alone are the obligatory group of barking and moaning California Sealions, who as usual are all fighting over one 6 foot square of dock when there is miles to go round for all of them, there are also pelicans everywhere and in the harbour bobbing around are families of sea otters, swimming around on their backs, feeding off of their stomachs and generally just enjoying life, there are also lots of cute harbour seals bobbing around and under the water we could see some huge fish as well...pretty amazing view just from standing on the side of the road. Sadly we were halfway through the walk when I realised I had the wrong camera lens, so no pics of the sea otters today unfortunately.
Monterey is a lovely place to walk around
with plenty of shops, restaurants etc. but we were heading for the Aquarium so no time to stop, at least that was my excuse but a few 'special souvenirs' slipped their way into the bags. The Aquarium is huge and covers a number of old dock and cannery buildings, it's very much geared up to education and has so many interactive things for kids to touch and feel, I could have stayed all day! There are effectively three huge display tanks within the building. A two story high 'kelp marine environment', the obligatory big fish/shark tank and another huge 2 story tank housing tuna, turtles, other large fish and a massive school of sardines who spend the entire time swimming in tight formation avoiding being lunch for all of the other fish, every time they passed the windows the kids in the area cheered as they darted around in a massive, seemingly choreographed silver ball of movement.
As well as the big tanks there were exhibitions on sea horses, jellyfish and other things and even an interactive question and answer session with one of the divers in the huge kelp tank. It took a while to drag Shas away
from the giant lobster tank as she just kept drooling down its side but I had to draw the line when she reached into her handbag for her bib and nutcrackers shouting 'dinner time!'! That had to come later. Outside the back of the aquarium are huge terraces where you can look at the surrounding sea area, they are rightly very proud of the cleanliness of the bay water and the surrounding wildlife and have telescopes set up all around so you can watch the wild otters and seals as well as the bird life just feet away from the decks.
Aquarium done, we headed back on the long 2 mile walk, rushing to pick up our whale watching tour from the pier next to where the RV was parked. It was at this point we found out that the trip was cancelled due to high winds and after a few expletives about sore feet and rushing for nothing we adjourned to a local restaurant on the pier for much needed rest and alcohol (well diet coke for the driver!). The pier is full of restaurants, bars and cafes dedicated to fish and crab which is ideal for me!
But we settled on Old Fishermans Grotto because of its panoramic view of the harbour. It was difficult to concentrate on ordering with seals, otters and pelicans all playing around in the sea outside.
Once Shas had devoured some close relatives of those we had been viewing in the aquarium earlier we headed back to the beach to replan the next few days. Rather than the long drive down Highway 1 tomorrow to Palm Beach on the outskirts of LA we will split the drive in two over two days and try once again to go whale watching in the morning instead. Fingers crossed we get out this time as I don't think the local lobster population can support another disappointed consolation dinner on the pier.
Back at camp we thought we would top up the propane that we have been using non stop for kettles, cooking and to power the fridge for the past 8 days, but that came to 9 dollars so were obviously not burning very much. Finally it was time to light the fire pit and the barby whilst sleeping beauty had her afternoon catnap and get out the sausages and burgers for another
meat and salad fest.
Let's hope we get to see some whales tomorrow and then some great views down Highway 1 towards Pismo Beach.
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