Monday, June 21, 2010

Monterey Bay Aquarium

On Friday, Nate and I went down to Monterey, to the Aquarium at Monterey Bay. It's an amazing place, and we usually get memberships when we go down there (they're pricey, but you save yourself an hour or more of standing-in-line, and then the second and third (and fourth?) time you go there in a year, it's free). It was going to be Skip and Nate going with me, but Skip had a chance to go to the midnight showing of Toy Story 3 with a group of guys from church, and jumped at the chance, getting home just before 3am, so a 7am departure was pretty much out of the question for him.

But Nate and I had a great time.

Except for when the cement truck cut in front of us, and threw a rock up off the road, and put a lovely starburst shatter-pattern in the center of the windshield.

And except for when we came to a screeching halt at the Monterey County line on Highway 1, and then crept along for ages at a top speed of about 5 miles per hour. And what was causing this traffic back up in the middle of nowhere? I thought it was road construction...

But actually, when we got to Monterey Bay, and got parked at the aquarium (and why was the parkade nearly completely full at 9 o'clock in the morning on a Friday?) it became clear where all the traffic was from. These cars were EVERYWHERE:

Oh right... it's the US Open golf tournament. I quickly realized, once I saw the acres and acres of parked Lexus and Infiniti vehicles, all disgorging their upper executives in 'sports casual' attire, with their khaki trousers and their navy windbreakers, and their sports-casual shoes, and their hundred dollar haircuts. Apparently, if you had a pass to the tournament, you got to park at the aquarium parkade for free, and then catch the shuttle bus down to Pebble Beach.

Ah. Makes perfect sense.

So it wasn't this crisis of "oh good grief! The parkade is full, so the aquarium is going to be shoulder-to-shoulder people!" The aquarium was actually rather empty. And there wasn't any line-up at all. And our member cards were expired, but easily re-instated, and Nate and I went into the aquarium, just in time for the Otter Feeding.

The otters get so excited when it's time to get fed. Nate and I didn't brave the crowd up in the viewing platform. We don't need to see the above-water bits, when the underwater bits were so entertaining.

I love the Moon Jellies:

But the coolest thing for me was the new Seahorse Exhibit.

Nate enjoyed the 'camouflage your seahorse' game that they'd set up. I was happy to see an exhibit that hadn't broken down, as many of the computerized things tend to do after only a short while.

He also was pretty happy just laying in the bottom of the Open Ocean exhibit, and watching the schools of herring swim over him.

Even though the Mola Mola was nowhere to be seen, it was still pretty fun.

I had fun in the shorebirds exhibit.

There is nothing between you and these rehabilitated shore birds. You're not supposed to touch them, even if they do taunt you with displays like this:

Or if they walk right up to you.

Or if they make these little "follow me! Follow me! I've got a broken wing, and I'm luring you away from my nest" motions.

Just think of the photos I could have taken if I'd still had that super zoom lens! Oh! The possibilities are endless.

"Hullo, Fred"... "Hullo, Sam"...

So much to see! So much to do. So many reasons to return a few more times this summer.

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