Whenever we have a long drive, we prefer to put all the miles on a rental car instead of our own. Instead of renting from the airport, it was more convenient to pick it up from a local Avis, or so I thought. Our reservation was for a standard SUV to be picked up at 5pm. Once we arrived, they had nothing larger than a mid-sized car on the lot and had to call another local Avis to drive one over. Twenty minutes later the SUV arrives. Doing the walk around to check the vehicle for damage, I found the usual scratches and dings, but when I looked over the tires I found a nail sticking out of it by about 1/2 an inch... Definitely not going to drive to Monterey with that.
Once I informed the attendant, I was told I could drive it to another rental place and swap it out for another one... Avis wasn't trying harder on this one. After a 10 minute drive to the next place, they were told I was coming to do a vehicle swap, but they still made me wait in line. Once I got to the front the guy who had dropped it off before recognized me. He asked if I pulled the nail and I didn't want it because the tire was leaking air. I told him I didn't try and just wanted a new one. Not having a good experience with Avis today. In the end, they gave me $18 off the rental price.
Because of all that, we were over an hour and a half delayed getting on the road. Our plan was to leave a little before Ian's bedtime so he would sleep most of the way there. We'll see how that turns out...
Traffic was okay until we got off the 5 freeway and went on to the 46. The off ramp had a stop light at it and our light was green, but out of the corner of my eye I saw an 18 wheeler that was coming fast and wasn't stopping. I hit the brakes and watched as the 18 wheeler blew through the red light. About this time, Ian decided he was done sleeping and ready to be awake for the remaining 3 hours of the trip.
A little before 1am, the three of us roll up to the Navy Lodge we'll be staying at this weekend. Jon meets us in the parking lot and gives us our room keys. After all the luggage is brought in and Ian's crib is set up, it's 1:30am and it's time to go to sleep. Ian had other ideas. He's so good at going to sleep at home. Tonight any time we tried to put him down he'd start crying, and because we're at a hotel we've got to keep him quiet. Finally around 3:15am he's had enough and goes to sleep. Gonna be a short night.
The next morning we found Jon's family and had breakfast.
Everyone was happy to see Ian and he was happy have a whole bunch of kids to play with too.
Hi Aunt Jess.
The aquarium opened at 10am and we were there right on time.
Yep, it's the Cetacean Institute. Home to a pair of humpback whales named George and Gracie. Look, it's Admiral Kirk and Captain Spock!
Okay, not really. But I did have Theresa watch Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home with me right before the trip.
Welcome to Monterey Bay Aquarium! Opened in 1984, this aquarium is at the end of Cannery Row, a section of Monterey known for it's sardine canning.
Normal adult tickets are $40 each, but with Jon's membership, they get their entire family plus two guest passes that can be used by anyone. Sweet!
Our first stop was the sea otters. Ian pointed out the fish as they were swimming by. It's a huge tank with two levels.
Next was the upper level where the otters were spending most of their time. Already good buddies with his cousins.
Them checking out the sea otter while the otter checks them out.
It was close to feeding time for the otters and the area started to get pretty crowded.
Time to see some exhibits. The Open Sea wing was first on our list.
The first room you enter is circular with an tank surrounding the ceiling. Inside were thousands of sardines swimming in a circle and it was feeding time for them too! Once the feeding hatch opened, all circling stopped and it was a feeding frenzy. After the frenzy, which direction would they start swimming?
In the next tank were jellies.
These guys are pretty.
Here we are looking through a microscopic camera at a jellyfish polyp. It's barely larger than a grain of sand, but every few seconds we'd see it contract all it's tentacles.
Next up was one of the largest tanks I've ever seen. Completely devoid of plant life and corral, this tank represents the wide open sea where there's nothing but water.
This pane of glass has to be one of the largest I have ever seen. It's so big it almost looks like a giant movie screen where you're watching a show about fish. Not only that, but how often do you really get to see giant sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, and humongous tuna. It almost doesn't look real. This tank is so large, 1.2 million gallons, that it has even housed great white sharks! That would be something to come back and see!
You might notice the huge crowd gathered around the glass above. That's because it's feeding time here too! Besides the giant fish we've seen, there's 13000 sardines hanging out near the bottom. Watching them school and react all at once to the big fish is incredible.
Immediately following the open sea exhibit were the penguins. I thought Ian would love watching the birds swimming and splashing, but he was pretty indifferent. Maybe it's the lack of sleep.
Next up is a groovy jellies experience.
Who knew there were so many different types of jellyfish.
I always wondered if tentacles ever got tangled up. There must have been a smack (yes I had to look up what a group of jellyfish was called) of 10 jellies tangled together. For a while T was wondering if a few of them were dead because their dome had collapsed and they were just being dragged around. Every once in a while it would pulse though and you'd see it was still alive. A closer look in the tank revealed a bunch of tiny shrimp, so maybe they were just fighting over food.
Walking with Aunt Jess.
The last exhibit before lunch was entitled Tentacles, featuring octopus, squid and cuttlefish.
Along the way there were fun interactive exhibits.
Here we saw how cephalopods can change their color to blend into their environment.
The way these nautilus move looked almost animatronic.
Our first whale sighting!
Time for lunch. The nine of us dined at the cafe inside the aquarium. A little pricy, but it's nice to not have to leave for lunch.
Next we'll follow the rest of our day at the aquarium and the rest of our Friday.