We drove north up the coast on California 1 most of the next day. This highway hugs the ocean with a narrow winding road and signs warning vehicles of certain length to not go on. We stopped at one point to look onto the beach and stretch our legs only to find a baby Loon scooting himself to get into the water. He must have been hiding in the rocks and our presence startled him so he went after mom and dad in the water. The cutest little bird!
It was a pretty grey day, the sun tried poking through the clouds over the ocean’s waves. I was feeling really tired and my back needed a rest, so I crawled into the back of the van telling Jeff I didn’t want to lay down for long. I am now waking up to the rumbling feeling of Vanna pulling off the road. Jeff found a beach of Elephant Seals, so I quickly jumped from my napping state and followed him outside. As we watched seals sway back and forth in the waves and jump onto rocks, we realized the beaches were covered with hundreds of seals. The sun had finally poked through the clouds making a warm spot for these big creatures to bask in. We watched them for several minutes, some digging in the wet sand, some males fighting for territory and others just napping in the wet salty air.
Monterey Bay was our true destination for the day and we rolled in towards the evening. We had seen a documentary (definitely worth watching) on the Monterey Bay Aquarium a few years ago and had decided we would definitely need to go. At that time we even discussed making a trip there for our honeymoon. So since we made it to town in the evening, we just walked around the beach a bit before going to bed. Jeff and I were both pretty amped the next morning as we drove towards the aquarium, we even got there a bit too early and anxiously awaited for the doors to open like two little kids.
From the outside the aquarium doesn’t look very impressive, no flashy paint colors or decorative murals. We were almost worried as we walked up, thinking the fee to get in was pretty steep and were on a budget but as soon as we walked through those doors, we knew it was all going to be worth it. We first found ourselves standing in front of their Kelp Forest, a two story tall glass wall encasing giant strips of leathery kelp with an array of fish like Rock Fish and Leopard Shark. Jeff and I must have just stood there at this first tank for at least 40 minutes before we realized there was still an entire building left to explore. The aquarium was filled with so much, tanks of glowing jellyfish, splashing penguins, eels hiding about in the dark, and children joyously screaming as they touch and learn. One of our favorite tanks was another two story tank named the ‘Open Sea’. This tank was the length of the wall and held sea creatures such as Hammerhead Sharks, Sea Turtles and the largest Tuna we’ve ever seen. The aquarium also has great educational and conservation programs too. We spent close to 6 hours in the Monterey Bay Aquarium and only saw one tank twice. We had a hard time peeling ourselves away but eventually made it back through the front door and onto our next destination.
Link to Monterey Bay Aquarium