Monday, September 13, 2010

Cannery Row, Monterey, California

"Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream." — John Steinbeck, opening sentence, Cannery Row (1945).
When I first read this, shortly after arriving to Monterey the first time in the late 80’s, I wasn’t very sure how to connect it to the place. I came to understand though, that Steinbeck had pretty much nailed it with this simple sentence. It's a beautiful area, I don't think I'd ever like to live there, but I always dream about visiting, and will never forget a single detail.
Monterey is one place that the kids had asked to visit specifically. Uncle Matt and Aunt Janet had taken us to the aquarium a couple of years ago, and when the kids wrote their “What I want to do on R&R” lists, Monterey was on both. We figured it would be the perfect end-point to our road trip.
The man, Mr Steinbeck, himself. (sort of…)
And I am not sure what was going on here… blue skies? Sunshine? All day long? Where’s the mist and fog?? I was so confused.DSC08020
Walking along, enjoying the sights and window shopping.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the most spectacular aquariums I’ve ever experienced, and we always find that they’ve added new exhibits each time we visit. (They have webcams too!) Last time we visited, I would have sworn that the jellyfish was my favorite exhibit, and that it would remain so… but this time around, I fell in love with the seahorses. They are graceful and gentle animals, the perfect example of peaceful living! They also had babies to ‘ooh’ over… and sea dragons!
Into the blue.
I still enjoyed the jellyfish.
One lovely feature of the aquarium, is that you are invited to walk outside and enjoy the ‘wild’ coastal life as well. When we visited previously, we saw a mother otter and her baby playing in the water next to the building. This time, we saw sea lions.
Look daddy!
These guys were new. The birds were part of an exhibit on wetlands and the need to protect our environment.
The kids read the signs, and watched documentary movies… on their own, no parental urging needed.
Then there were the seahorses… sigh… I could have spent the whole day in this section! I didn’t get many good photos, unfortunately.
Sea dragon! I don’t think I’ve ever seen these outside of books before! They certainly live up to their mystical title.
My two favorite fish.
This is definitely a learning museum, and in addition to informative signs, movies, and interactive displays, there are many hands-on stations throughout the aquarium, with informed staff members to explain and educate. The kids learned more about tidal pool creatures, as well as otter fur and whale bones! We were also informed that this was a boom year for whale watching as there was an unusual krill uprising off the coast… we didn’t go out to see though. Maybe in the future.
After we enjoyed watching the sea life, we were hungry and decided to go eat some.
Sounds terrible doesn’t it?! But we couldn’t help ourselves. The area is overflowing with great restaurants and we had to partake. I’m not much of a fan of seafood… ‘can barely stand it’ is more accurate… but I ordered a blackened fish that was absolutely heavenly!
Someone else discovered they really like clam chowder.
The kids met some interesting individuals at the restaurant.
Leaving the restaurant, we had to go down to the beach. It was sunny, warm, lots of kids were playing… irresistible!
And my advice to “stay out of the water, keep your shoes and pants dry”? You can imagine how long that lasted.
“Bye mom” or more realistically, “See ya soon mom because I’m going to clamber over rocks, out to the sea side, leading my little sister off on rock-jumping adventures that she’s not quite ready for so you’ll have to climb out too.”
Yep... there she goes…
Totally worth it though as there were sea lions and otters playing in the water, not even 50 feet from where the kids were.
The one on the rock here, center of the photo, hopped into the water and swam closer to the near rocks (our side). There was a rock, mostly submerged, that he perched on for a bit. I think he was showing off for the kids.
I couldn’t get a good shot of him, but he’s the lump in the water, between Brian and the girl in the peace shirt.
We had a wonderful day visiting with the sea critters!
Note: Monterey Bay Aquarium is not a cheap adventure - $30 for adults, $18 for kids, but like the Mystery House, they have some bills to pay and conservation to attend to. I believe that what we got for the price of admission was worth the price… and I do not mind supporting their (conservation) causes either.


Emily said...

The pictures of the jelly fish are incredible. What an amazing aquarium!
The kids looked like they were having a great time! What a wonderful adventure.

Jill said...

You had the coolest jellyfish picture - the white one - I don't remember seeing that there! And I totally agree about the seahorses ... lovely aren't they?

Looks like you had a great time! Riley loved seeing the photos of Honor. She is SO excited to start being a pen pal again.

Connie said...

Emily - the photos hardly do them justice. The jellyfish tanks are wonderful and I love to see the animals in motion! It was hard to give them up as favorites this year, but the seahorses were amazing! I am very glad we got the kids back to this aquarium, and had time to explore the beach, it was fun.

Jill - The white ones were very cool looking.. some had bluish tentacles too, but I didn't catch those in a photo. It was very crowded the day we went and hard to read the signs. No idea what they were. Makes me wish I lived closer so I could visit more often and take my time!
Honor was thrilled to see that your family went to this aquarium too! And she really liked seeing the girls in their new school clothes. She is very excited about being Riley's penpal too.

Expat Mom said...

What a great trip! This is exactly what I want to do with my kids. The aquarium definitely looks fun, but the beach does, too. And I'm with you on the seahorses, they are such whimsical looking creatures. :D

I spent my teen years on an island and used to go kayaking or canoeing with my sisters all the time. There were always schools of jellyfish that we would go through, like the ones in the first picture. Sometimes the water would be so thick with them, there was more jelly than water! It was pretty cool.

Connie said...

Genesis - We grew up on/in/near the water too, and while I am very glad for the opportunities our children have, they're growing up in the complete opposite environment... DESERT! I was so happy to take them to the ocean and give them this time to get to know it more!
I don't remember many jellies in Florida, altho we were always warned to watch out for the man o' wars! I loved encountering 'flocks' of stingrays. We ran into jellies, the bad way, in EIn Sukhna (jellyfish sting!) Seeing them in an aquarium is the best way!