NOTE: We are still catching up on our blog posts due to poor internet connectivity and hope the newly installed cell booster will help !!!
We landed at an RV park which was located at the county fairgrounds next to a public golf course in Monterey, CA. This RV park wasn’t that nice because it was a large paved parking lot and we were notified that our trailer could be hit by a stray golf ball when we checked in. Our RV site had full hookup, the location was affordable, and it was within easy driving distance of Monterey Bay. Fingers were crossed for no bad golfers during our stay!
For years, Bonnie has been a huge fan of Monterey Bay Aquarium and she always wanted to visit there. Early in our relationship, she educated me on the importance of eating sustainable fish from our oceans. The aquarium does a lot of research and regularly provides an updated Seafood Watch list of endangered fish species so we know which ones you shouldn’t purchase for dinner. Here is a link if you would like to download the Seafood Watch Mobile App and purchase only sustainable fish species: https://www.seafoodwatch.org/seafood-recommendations/our-app
Monterey has a lot to offer visitors so we decided to check out Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and more seal rookeries along the beaches there. We did the iconic Highway 1 drive south from Monterey to Big Sur along the beautiful coastline. Bonnie and I jumped on a whale watching tour boat which headed out into Monterey Bay in search of migrating gray and humpback whales. We immediately spotted a mother and baby otter swimming across the marina as we left the pier. Our boat captain soon found several migrating gray whales along with a couple of humpback whales as we watched them breach the water’s surface to breathe. It was a cold day out on the ocean but we enjoyed the 4 hour trip. It is hard to capture moving whales on a rolling vessel with an iPhone so here are some other pics that might interest you….
Most importantly, we wanted to spend at least a full day at Monterey Bay Aquarium which was the main reason for stopping there. We arrived at the aquarium and decided to listen to some free educational lectures in the auditorium. Each lecture was only 15-20 minutes long and consisted of a short documentary film followed by Q&A with a member of the aquarium staff. We enjoyed a couple of informative lectures and then headed out to explore many of the aquarium displays.
I have been to a few aquariums before but Monterey Bay has an enormous fish tank which is fed many gallons of seawater fresh from the ocean each day. We saw all kinds of Pacific reef fish (including sharks) and feeding time was very entertaining when a staff diver handed out squid and shrimp to all of the hungry fish clustered around him. There was another very large tank that held yellow fin tuna, dolphins, sea turtles, small hammerhead sharks and a huge fish called a Mola Mola. What is a Mola Mola you might ask? The ocean sunfish or Mola Mola is one of the heaviest known bony fishes in the world and typically weigh between 247 and 1,000 kg when mature. The species is native to tropical and temperate waters around the globe. It resembles a large fish head with a tail and its main body is flattened laterally. A smaller display tank held a large octopus while another one held lots of big colorful jellyfish.
Bonnie loves otters and she wasn’t disappointed because the aquarium has several sea otters in residence and their feeding time is a very popular event. She required us to arrive very early for the feeding an had her nose pressed against the glass as otters danced past her. Bonnie stood her ground and wasn’t intimidated by the numerous people that arrived for the feeding and began pressing in around her from all sides. She even helped several children get primo viewing spots in front of her. It was like watching an overgrown kid for 30 minutes. Bonnie was very good at spotting the otters along the California coast so I now call her my “Otter Spotter” girl !!! ;0) She was also good at spotting alligators and crocodiles while we were in FL… “Gator Otter Spotter” girl!
Monterey Bay Aquarium is definitely a top notch research facility whose main mission is educating us on the importance of managing dwindling fish populations while preserving endangered species in our oceans. This great place wouldn’t have been possible without the vision and generosity of David Packard who was a co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Corporation. He purchased defunct fish cannery property and funded initial construction of the aquarium with a generous donation of $7 million. Eventually, the Packard family paid a total sum of $55 million towards construction of an expanded version of this great aquarium as it currently stands today. Check out some of the other photos Bonnie took at Monterey Bay Aquarium and along the beautiful beaches near there…
Next, Bonnie’s cousin Trish and her husband Rick (who were mentioned in our last blog post) invited us to join them for Vickie’s 60th birthday party at Arroyo Grande near Pismo Beach, CA. Vickie and her husband Dave are very close long-time friends of Trish and Rick. Vicki loves to plan parties so she invited approximately 100 people to attend her milestone birthday blowout event. We met Trish and Rick at a nearby micro-farm that offered a few cabins for nightly rental. They stayed in a nicely restored vintage trailer while we were parked right across from them in our Airstream. No water or sewer hookup was provided but we had access to our own bath house where you could use the toilet or take a hot shower. We planned accordingly and filled our fresh water tank before arriving at the farm. We parked where our solar panels could give the batteries a nice full charge each day and we were able to use most electrical appliances in our Airstream as a result.
The next day we traveled to a large meeting room at a nearby retirement community in Arroyo Grande and helped setup the place for Vickie’s birthday bash. The party was a huge success as Vickie’s brother-in-law “Hans” (aka Ross) had everyone laughing as he emceed the event and roasted Vickie in the process. Tasty food, cold beer, and plenty of wine put guests in a festive mood and Vickie really seemed to enjoy herself (which was the point) !!! We did not get any pics from the party but here are some pics from our stop at Arroyo Grande…
We left Arroyo Grande and headed northeast to another Harvest Host member winery called Tobin James which was located in the Paso Robles area. As you may recall from our last post, we had already passed through Paso Robles previously and stayed at Rio Seco Winery there. Bonnie had gotten some dates mixed up (which rarely happens) which caused us to back track south so we could meet Trish & Rick at Vickie’s birthday bash in Arroyo Grande. Now, we were heading back northeast again towards Paso Robles on our way to Pinnacles National Park.
Tobin James was a high volume winery and it is a popular destination because they offer free wine tastings from a large menu of their wines. We didn’t realize that until we got to the winery which would explain why the place was so crowded. The wines were OK and none were remarkable but we met a retired sheriff who was very knowledgeable about wine and loved his job pouring samples there. We camped overnight in their parking lot across the street and headed north on Highway 101 towards Pinnacles National Park the next day with our fingers crossed! We didn’t have a reservation for Pinnacles NP. This would be our first attempt to snag a first-come-first-serve spot in a national park. Here are some pictures from our visit at Tobin James Winery…
Next, we headed towards Pinnacles National Park….