Day 31: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Woke at Laurence & Karen’s (not very surprising, as we‘d had a lovely evening and gone to sleep there!), had  excellent coffee and yummy almond bear claws for breakfast, said our thank yous and goodbyes, took photographs of our hosts (including Sid the dog) and headed home to Erik & Mary’s. 

At our California wedding party Stephanie &  Katie had offered to accompany us to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see otters. This involved Stephanie missing school but her mum, Mandie, OKed it.  So off we went, Disa, Scott, Maria & Stephanie in Maria’s car, and Katie & her boyfriend, Michael, in Katie’s car to meet us there. Unfortunately a combination of bad directions and a mobile phone playing up stopped Katie & Michael from meeting us before Katie had to head back to work.  Oh well. 

We asked the ticket seller whether they had otters as I still had not seen one. “Oh yes” she said “And if you come back in October we will have some fresh ones”.  We explained that we were flying out to New Zealand tomorrow so would just have to settle for the stale ones.

The stale otters were a total delight!  They swam and cavorted and generally seemed to be having a ball.  My otter fix finally sated we were able to sample the many other charms of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Other highlights were:
The kelp forest
The jellyfish “Drifters” exhibit – Tanks painted blue with nothing but jellyfish drifting about
The Outer Reef exhibit – Big sea creatures
Touching a manta ray (much slimey-er than you’d expect!)
The wading birds (yes birds) exhibit.

We left the aquarium and had lunch at Stephanie’s favourite Monterey restaurant, Bubba Gumps.  Bubba Gumps is a theme restaurant around the movie Forrest Gump.  In my experience this movie polarises people into two camps – those who really love it and those who absolutely loathe it.  Count me in the former group, I’ve watched it four or five times and have it on DVD.  The restaurant has movie memorabilia scattered around and is interactive in that the staff ask Forrest Gump related questions giving little rewards for correct answers.  Stephanie knew EVERYTHING about Forrest Gump (despite only having seen the movie once; if you don‘t ace you‘re exams, we‘ll be after you Stef!!).

After lunch we took Stephanie home and while the girls talked hair & makeup I contented myself admiring Mandie’s black & white photography.  When we were at the San Juan Bautista mission Maria had told me that Mandie had taken some really terrific B&W photos of it.  She had a couple framed on the wall and they were indeed terrific (I blush to consider my own efforts at the same place).   Mandie also took some great colour photos at our California wedding party that we received recently and Disa put on our Flickr site.  We anxiously await her B&W California wedding party photos (hint hint).

For dinner Erik took us (Erik, Mary, Erik Bro, Maria, David, Mandie, Stephanie, Disa and Scott) out to his favourite restaurant – an authentic Thai place in Morgan Hill.  David’s parents, Mel & Judy, had returned from visiting their friends in San Francisco so were also able to join us.  This was a double celebration 1) we were leaving the next day & 2) Maria had finished her AA (that’s Associates of Arts degree not Alcoholics Anonymous).  The food was brilliant, incredible & wonderful (Hobart readers think Thai Mai Ake) and since there were 11 of us we had a banquet and got to sample everything.  Mandie & Stephanie had never had Thai food before but were soon converted.

After the meal had ended we farewelled Mandie, Stephanie, Mel, Judy & David as we would not see them before we flew out the next day and went home.  Disa drove home with Maria & David and I drove Erik Bro home in the Mini.  We discussed the Beatles, Abba, baseball (Barry Bonds had by this time passed Willie Mays‘ second place position for home runs), dogs & cats.