Thursday - Little Fishies...

Thursday was the day of of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Couple of years ago, we went to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach (about thirty miles to the south of our house) and were...well, not disappointed, exactly, but were surprised that it was not nearly as large and impressive as it suggested itself to be. Oh, it was okay, but not the really special as we thought it would be.

On the other hand, Monterey Bay Aquarium does not suffer from a lack of specialness.

seagull and seal, Monterey The aquarium is right on historic "Cannery Row" (as seen on TV...er...Steinbeck), once home to working canneries, now entirely made up of shops and restaurants and other touristy things, mostly with a fishing theme of some sort attached to them (and a Steinbeck theme as well, if they can figure out how to do it). Thanks to the previous day's adventure, we knew right where it was - and more importantly, right where the parking was - and arrived early in the morning.

Bit too early, actually, it wouldn't open for another hour.

So we wandered around the Row for a while, getting some coffee for Dee Dee and watching the seals and otters that played around in the waters just offshore.

Finally the doors open, we bought our tickets, and headed inside. The place is huge. We'd originally thought it'd take us, oh, four or five hours to do the whole thing (Aquarium of the Pacific only took three). As it turned out, we were there pretty much until it closed, seven hours later. Monterey Bay Aquarium - An all day adventure!

Monterey Bay Aquarium's own private tidepool The place is three stories tall, and several of the tanks take up the whole of those three stories so that each floor looks in at a different level of the tank. Heck, the place even has its own private tide pool, actually connected to the ocean, built between the wings of the building.

Sea-Turtle, just barely visible (thanks to photopaint...) This is very definitely an all-day aquarium. We got there when it opened that morning and - apart from an hour break for lunch - didn't leave until they closed that evening. Just about every sort of sealife that comes anywhere near the West Coast was on display there.

Otters at the aquarium Otters frolic in their tank, its top open to the sky. Meanwhile in another section of the aquarium, very subdued lighting marks tanks that show marine life from thousands of feet down; luminescent jellies, weird crustacean's, and equally odd fish.

same On a higher floor there's a whole display showing shore-life. In a big cylinder, anchovies constantly swirl in a silvery tornado. Sea turtles, sharks, and fish in a rainbow of colors help make up much of the rest of the building.

And darn it if they aren't expanding!

After a long day walking about the aquarium, we were more than tired and hungry as we headed back up to our motel. Fortunately, in the mall right across the street from that motel, we found a nice burrito place called "Chipotles" (which has since opened a couple of branches down our way).

A couple of huge, tasty burritos later, we were ready to call it a night.


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