Travelogue: Monterey Peninsula

4 Nov
Seal Scout.

Jet-lagged seal scout.

Our second day in California was started out a bit rough because of the time difference. Between the time zone difference (three hours) and daylight savings (lose another hour), we were four hours off our regular baseline. Maybe not a big deal for most people, but since I’m an early riser by default, I think Alan found it problematic that I was ready to start our day at 2am.

It ended up working out fine because we spent a few relaxed hours writing and drinking coffee before stepping out for the complimentary hotel breakfast. Fueled and ready to go, we headed to the Monterey Aquarium, which was one of Alan’s Top 3 things to do on this trip. (When prepping for this trip, Alan and I each defined our “Top 3” sites to see or things to do to make sure this trip would have a bit of something for both of us.)

The aquarium did not disappoint. We got there right as it opened, and spent the first half hour watching the sea otters. The big event of the morning was their feeding, so as the time approached, the viewing area started to get packed. Kids crawled through people’s legs to get up to the front near the glass. The guy in front of us was a douche who pretended he couldn’t see the kids and held firm with his front row vantage spot, so Alan and I opened a little aisle and helped the kids move up to the front so they could wedge themselves in front of him. AND I DON’T EVEN LIKE CHILDREN.

Four things about sea otters: 1) They’re larger than I think of them as being, 2) I’d like to have one as a pet, 3) I love how easily they float around on their backs with their legs crossed and their eyes closed, and 4) I’m glad their poop doesn’t resemble dog turds. Would’ve ruined the entire experience.

They have some really nice “touch pools” in the aquarium, where you can handle things like starfish, sea anemones, and bat rays. Of course, I’m too squeamish about textures to bring myself to touch anything (much to my naturalist father’s disappointment, I’m sure), but Alan petted a good number of things.

Interesting segue: They had an awesome jellyfish exhibit, and Alan took a slew of photos. At the time I thought he was crazy, but in hindsight, they’re actually pretty gorgeous. While I don’t want to encounter jellyfish while I’m swimming, they really are a testament to the natural art that exists in this world. I’ve decided to call them Nature’s LavaLamps from here on out. See?

Image Source: Alan 2013

My highlight of the visit was watching a school of anchovies. One word: Mesmerizing. Also, kind of justifies why I won’t eat them, so I can sound noble when I’m really just opposed to their fishy taste. Here’s a snippet someone else shot that can kind of give you the idea:

After leaving the aquarium, we went to Point Lobos State Park and hiked for a couple of hours. The trails are well-maintained and follow the coastline, so you get some pretty epic views. When we entered the park, the ranger handed us a flyer. I assumed it would be a map of the various trails. Alas, no. Apparently the State of California is as OCD as I am and prefers to communicate rules. Looks at all the DON’Ts on this list:

Thanks, dick. Now where's the map that shows me where seals are?

Signs led me to believe I would see some seals and be tempted to try to lift them, so I spent our hike scouting for seals. At one point, I had Alan believing that there were hundreds of them in the waters below us, until his Lasik-vision kicked in and he showed me that it was just kelp and driftwood. Maybe the state should change its signs and encourage people to drag seals out of the water so they can get free hauling on driftwood and kelp?

Finders, keepers. If I find a seal I'm going to burp it like a baby.

These must be gang seals based on all their gun-shot wounds.

Once the hike was behind us, we took the Pacific Coast Highway down to San Simeon for the night. Everyone raves about Route One and the views. It was gorgeous and gave us a spectacular sunset view, but I was ready to hurl by the time we finished the two-hour drive because of all the twists and turns. I’m also pretty sure that Nova Scotia’s trail was as beautiful but had more generous shoulders and guard rails – which should never be underestimated.

When we pulled up to our hotel – nay, MOTEL – at 6pm, Alan said, “You’re shitting me. We’ve only been driving for two hours?” Indeed. This is how I make a week-long vacation feel like a life-time. It’s all part of the strategy. You’re welcome, sir.

NEXT UP: We actually FIND seals, tour Hearst Castle, and almost plummet to our deaths when a bus driver forgets he’s not driving a motorcycle.

5 Responses to “Travelogue: Monterey Peninsula”

  1. Bonnie November 5, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Only you – who loves to get up early – would call getting to relive an hour of your life “losing an hour”. 🙂

    • pithypants November 5, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

      You’re right – that was a total slip. We gained an hour – but when I frame it up in the context of waking in a different time zone, it feels like losing it. I’m hoping we can keep that feeling going for a bit longer so the return trip isn’t too painful.

  2. thesinglecell November 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Jellyfish really ARE super-cool. squishy things, but I think you’ve misinterpreted the signs about the seals. I think they got tired of hearing things like, “Hey there – wanna go clubbing?” and “My vision is swimming… I’m drunk on the way you move!”

    • pithypants November 5, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

      Alan’s take on it was similar to yours. His reaction was, “Who are they to tell me I can’t flirt with the seals?”


  1. 40 x 40: Progress & Failures. | pithypants - November 11, 2013

    […] Explore wine country with Alan. CHECK. You’re read about our adventures in Carmel, Monterey, and Hearst Castle – but we spent the last five days tooling through Paso Robles, Napa and […]

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