California Coast: Monterey Bay Aquarium

November 1 – 2, 2014: The Monterey Bay Aquarium was fantastic! I love aquariums. My favorite exhibit was the octopuses (apparently both octopi and octopuses are acceptable plural forms of octopus).

I had totally forgotten quite how many suction cups they have all other their tentacles. There was a Giant Pacific Octopus that was very colorful (reddish-pinkish-white) and active. We could have watched him move around for hours. The other octopuses were often smooshed into corners of the aquariums so it wasn’t as easy to see all their features.

Fun fact of the day: Did you know that octopi, squids, and cuttlefish are all in the same family (cephalopods)? And, cephalopods have the ability to change color? I had no idea.

In addition to sea otters and penguins, we saw Michael’s favorite animal – a puffin. Camper Dan has a puffin stuffed animal on his dash. We have been in search of seeing puffins in the wild in all of our travels but have yet to be at the right place at the right time. We’ll continue to seek out that experience but, for now, the Monterey Bay Aquarium will have to do.

There was also a large exhibit on jellyfish. If you’ve been following along, we saw also saw a large jellyfish exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium mentioned here. The Monterey Bay Aquarium had a wider variety of jellyfish but the Vancouver Aquarium was definitely comparable. One difference I noticed is that the Monterey Bay Aquarium has a ton of hands-on exhibits for kids. However, since the Monterey Bay Aquarium is world renown, I’d say that the Vancouver Aquarium is a must-see as well!

We had the obligatory dinner at a seafood restaurant, Old Fisherman’s Grotto, in Fisherman’s Wharf. I don’t eat seafood but Michael said the clam chowder and local cod were pretty good. As we were returning to Camper Dan from dinner, we saw tons and tons of sea lions in the water. There must have been at least fifty piled on a raft. It was super cool and fun to sit and watch.

After dinner we started our drive down Coastal Route 1 through Carmel, over Bixby Bridge, and into Big Sur. The sun was setting as we drove so we stopped to take pictures at a few viewpoints. Our destination for the night was Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park campground.


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