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Published: June 10th 2006
A view off Highway 1. To the right, out of frame, are the mountains. In between, the road we drove on.
Today we got an early start and drove up the California coast on Highway 1. San Luis Obispo to Monterey on a mostly 2 lane, very curvy highway. Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of traffic, so we didn’t get stuck behind anyone. The combination of tight curves and a sheer drop-off one lane away made Mom pretty skiddish of the drive. I loved it, though! It was like a game, trying to take the curves just slow enough that Mom wouldn’t freak, but fast enough that they felt like I had to work for them. Have I mentioned yet that I love to drive?
Anyway, we made a couple stops along the way. One was at the Whale Watcher Café in Gorda. We grabbed some food and I got some really cool flower pics. We also stopped at a few of the vista points along the way for some ocean views. One of them happened to also be a picnic area, which was blatantly obvious when you saw the way the animals were behaving. The ground squirrels (which I lovingly referred to as “squabbits”) and the seagulls pretty much just came up and waited for food. One of the squabbits
Some of the many flowers outside the Whale Watcher Cafe.
even tried to climb my leg when I held my hand out.
After almost too much twisting and turning, we landed in Monterey. It was cool to check out some of the city that my bro had been stationed in for a while (he went to the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio). Mom and I went to the Cannery Row area, grabbing a late lunch of shrimp po’ boys at the Bubba-Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant. Then we headed down to the aquarium and spent a few hours there.
The aquarium was awesome. Right inside was the sea otter exhibit, where they were zooming around like crazy. Couldn’t get many good pictures there. There were a ton of exhibits. We saw coastal birds in the aviary, and I touched a stingray and a starfish in the touchpool area. The stingray was super slimy. It almost felt like raw chicken (ewww!!). The starfish was really rough, kind of like a stone. We saw the kelp forest, which had tons of lazily moving fish in it. There was also a reef area that had some of the larger reef fish (sharks and the like).
The top two exhibits were
One of the trio of ground squirrels that demanded some food.
the 1 million gallon outer bay tank and the jellyfish. The outer bay tank had yellowfin tuna, sea turtles and even an ocean sunfish. It was hard to take pictures of them because of the lighting, but I got a couple lucky shots. We also got to see the sunfish being fed, which was a bit of a challenge because one of the sea turtles kept trying to steal its food.
The jellyfish were awesome. They had tons of different species, which resulted in lots of colors and shapes drifting through the tanks. The best part was a room that had jellies in tanks on opposite facing walls and the other two walls were mirrored. It was like you were surrounded by jellyfish. The dim lighting made it even more discombobulating. Mom had a bit of trouble. She got to the end of the room, turned towards the mirror and must’ve just glanced at her reflection because she didn’t realize it was her. She started the “trying to get out of each other’s way” dance, which really doesn’t work when it’s your own reflection. I thought she was kidding and started laughing, at which point she told her reflection
One of the many species of jellyfish on display at the aquarium. These are not the ones that threw Mom for a loop.
“I’m going to the right.” Embarrassment set in shortly thereafter, and “I’m going to the right” became a running joke!
After we had our fill of the aquarium (including a couple gift shop finds), we wandered down Cannery Row. Unfortunately, both of us were really tired and starting to get cranky, so the wandering was short. We did, however, hit the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Co. where Mom got a large assortment of sugar free chocolates and I got a chocolate covered banana that would prove to be my dinner (good thing I got the peanuts option).
The drive up to San Jose included our first full blown argument (she got us lost when I was heading in the right direction to start with). We arrived at our hotel intact, though. We both crashed for a little while. When consciousness was regained, Mom was hungry and I wanted as little to do with food as possible. We went on a fruitless search for a Chili’s (bad directions) and then came back to the hotel where I had a Coke and Mom dined on road food (peanut butter sandwich and cheese sticks…mmmm).
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