Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A (belated) Monterey Valentine's Day!

In our most recent adventure, Patrick and I headed to Monterey!

Patrick had a business trip that lasted from February 8th, which is the day after my birthday, through February 14th, which is a holiday for everyone but is also extra special for me and Patrick. Two years ago on February 14th, Patrick landed in Michigan and we met in person for the first time. We consider this our anniversary!

The day we met, we went out to a fantastic dinner at the Westland Char House, which is sadly closed at this point.

For our first anniversary, we spent the day in Disneyland! The day after, on February 15th, Patrick proposed to me at Princess Breakfast in Ariel's Grotto in front of Ariel!

As you can see, February is a big month for us, and for him to have had to spend even any time focusing on work or away for work during those days was a bummer! Thankfully, we were able to get away for a couple of days to a place I've never been before-- Monterey!

We left on Sunday morning and drove home on Monday night, and we both had a blast! It was a really relaxing mini-vacation and it was great to be able to get away and spend some quality time together. Little did we know, the 2015 PGA Tour was in Pebble Beach this weekend, which made the tourism pretty heavy, and on top of that we completely forgot that President's Day is a thing and that a few random people get the day off, so it was a little busy EVERYWHERE!

On our first day, we hit up Cannery Row and the various shops there. Later, we headed to dinner at Whaling Station Steakhouse. Unfortunately, I was sick for this entire trip, so I joked with Patrick that my dinner "had a really great texture!" but in all reality, I couldn't taste any of it. Thankfully, I took leftovers back to the hotel and I was able to snack on them the next day when I could taste things, and even heated up they were delicious.

The beach view from Cannery Row

The next day was the one we were most excited for. We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium! Patrick bought season passes for both of us, since it saves you money if you go just twice (which we're sure we can do!) and it supports a fantastic organization that really does great things for the environment.

One of the many beautiful pieces of art in the aquarium, many of which, like this one, are made of plastic materials to demonstrate how well plastic holds up and won't degrade in the environment.

First stop, the jellies! The jellies were the best part of the aquarium in our opinion. They had so many different varieties, and the way the exhibit was set up was fantastic. If we had had the time, I would have stayed there the entire day just sitting on the ground and staring them. They're so soothing to look at-- like a beautiful lava lamp created by nature. It is definitely the type of place that I could forget the time in.
Want to watch the Jelly-Cam? Click here!

These three jellyfish were knotted together-- I wonder if they ever untied themselves!

Each of the varieties of jellies were so unique and beautiful. Some didn't even look like jellies! Some seemed to have an electric current running down their "spines" (more like the white bits of a peeled orange, still squishy but definitely different from the rest of it), some looked like giant pillows, and some were so tiny that it felt like you could put them in your pocket and carry them home.

Next on our tour were the octopuses! There is an exhibit called Tentacles, and as interesting as they may be, they freaked me out a little bit. Honestly, I'm shocked that I didn't spend the trip in a constant state of panic, since the ocean (and really any body of water, even the giant tanks) terrifies me, but it was all just so fascinating that I couldn't help but find myself in awe.

Please don't flash the octopus.

We also saw tons of other various sea life, including otters, cuttlefish, tiger sharks, penguins, and a sea turtle! The otters were adorable. I nicknamed them "sea kitties" and decided that they all needed hugs. They were so funny showing off for the crowd by swimming in circles and playing with their toys. They really are just big babies that love attention!

Sea kitty! He's swimming laps, belly-up!

Playing with its toys!

The bubble aquarium! This is where the sea turtle was kept, among many other creatures. The sea turtle likes to ride the waves of bubbles!

I have no idea what this is, but it looks cool.

There were areas in the aquarium where you could exit and go outside to look at their pools and see the ocean.

The "Finding Nemo" tank, as we like to call it. We saw Nemo fish, Dory fish, Bubbles fish, and even Gill fish!


We don't have very many good pictures of the penguins because we got there right at feeding time and we got pretty bad seats, but what we got to see was awesome!

A whole school of fish! It was so neat to see them travel like this.

The only shark that I found acceptable because it looked like it was smiling. 

I just love birds, especially this one. I love seagulls and pigeons. 

Mid-way through our visit, we stopped for lunch at the restaurant that they have in-house, and we got a table overlooking the bay. It even came with binoculars so you could look at everything that was going on. We saw tons of people standing up on surf boards and paddling around with a paddle, people in kayaks, seals, and sea otters!

Our view from our table at the restaurant!

At the end of our visit, we made our way to one of the bigger touch pools. Earlier in the day I'd touched a sea cucumber and two different starfish, but the really big exhibit had stingrays. They're actually not harmful to humans, especially since the aquarium clips their spikes so they can't poke or scratch you. Then, you just pull up your sleeve, put your arm in the water, and wait for one to swim under your hand so you can stroke it. So cool! I'm really surprised that I was brave enough to do it!

One of the starfish that I got to poke


The aquarium was fantastic, and I really recommend going (just not on President's day, which is a school holiday and therefore apparently the perfect day for every child in California to go to the aquarium). The pictures and my description do it no justice!

After we started to get tired of the crowds and had visited every possible exhibit, we did a bit of souvenir shopping and decided we were done with the aquarium for the day.

How could you not want this adorable pink penguin? And then how could you not take a selfie with it? I really try to abstain from buying stuffed animals since they take up so much room ad have very little use (especially for an adult) but I could not resist. It called to me. From three different stores.

We then made our way over to a wine tasting bar that was recommended to us by our upstairs neighbor (which, if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that we have stopped resenting due to the noise and actually become friends with), who is in Monterey most weekends because his family runs wineries up there! I, of course, abstained from the wine and enjoyed my ice water (from my new water bottle that I got for my birthday!) but I did enjoy some of the fruit, nuts, and cheeses that Patrick got with his cheese platter-- even a cheese with lavender and espresso, how weird is that? We sat at a small table overlooking the bay and we saw a total of FIVE seals just laying on rocks and sun bathing! It started out with only one seal, and it was really amusing to watch the rest of them flop up on the rocks to nap in the sun. There was even a disagreement between the original seal and another one who wanted to share the rock he was resting on. They ended up sharing, but the original seal was not happy!

Our view from our seats at the wine bar!

Can you spot them? There are four seals and a seagull in this picture!

Patrick was happy!

After the wine bar, Patrick and I headed back to the hotel so that I could nap (vacationing while sick is exhausting) and later we headed out to one of my absolute favorite restaurants, Bubba Gump's!

Man, that sure is a nice red jacket

My favorite is coconut shrimp. What's yours?

Patrick is the sole reason that adult bibs became a thing, and no one can convince me otherwise.

Though we had initially planned on staying another night and heading home in the morning, Patrick and I were by no means tired at 9:30pm, so we decided to skip the night at the hotel and opt for driving for a few hours so we could have a night at home, something that Patrick has very few chances to enjoy this month due to travel. We're really happy that we decided to get a head start on things so that we could relax on Tuesday and not have to worry about doing a bunch of rushing around to get everything ready for when he leaves on Wednesday.

Overall this is one of the best trips we've taken, even though I was sick! Everything was so relaxing and calm and nothing was set in stone, so we had no obligations and we did everything at a leisurely pace. I can't wait to go back, and since it's not even half as far away as Disneyland, I have a feeling we'll be able to take quite a few day trips up there in the future!

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