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Thanksgiving weekend in Monterey

Last weekend MJ and I spent a beautiful weekend down in Monterey. It was a much-needed break, I pretty much ignored all obligations for the weekend (including over 24 hours without looking at IRC!) and soaked in the beautiful scenery.

We drove down on Friday, had lunch in downtown Santa Cruz at Hoffman’s Bistro and Patisserie. From there we took a scenic coastline drive through Santa Cruz and then drove down to Monterey. Upon arrival we checked in to Monterey Clement (an InterContinental hotel) and spent the evening window shopping, enjoying the holiday festivities and browsing the historical information scattered along Cannery Row. Dinner was at the Sardine Factory where we had a spectacular dinner, including a sardine appetizer.

View of Monterey Bay from our room

Saturday we enjoyed breakfast by the bay at The C Restaurant. From there we took a walk up the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail where we came upon the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University and Hopkins State Marine Reserve beach where you can see a bunch of harbor seals!

Video on youtube: Seals at Hopkins Marine Station beach

Cute seal quota satisfied, we headed back toward Cannery Row to the attraction I’ve wanted to visit for years, even before moving out to California, The Monterey Bay Aquarium!

First on the list of things to see was their world-famous kelp forest.

After that we were able to enjoy a demonstration with their albatross (huge bird! but not as big as albatrosses get), wander through the aviary, see the penguin and sea otter feedings. I’ve always loved otters (who doesn’t?) but the sea otter exhibit they have is a really fun one, and the otters are so playful!

We spent the evening walking along some of the beautiful cove beaches near downtown Monterey and then went to Fisherman’s Wharf where we got to visit with the sea lions who lounge about down there. We had dinner back over on Cannery Row at Cannery Row Brewing Company, which had an impressive tap list which included a Simcoe Double IPA, yum!

Sunday morning MJ spotted a wild sea otter floating past our hotel! We took advantage of our two day aquarium tickets to go back to the aquarium to see if we could spot more sea otters from there, and that’s where I caught this photo, taken through one of their telescopes plus zoom on my camera:

We had one last visit with the captive sea otters and the gift shop and then headed out of Monterey for a scenic afternoon down the coast.

First stop was the oldest continuously-operating lighthouse on the United States west coast, Point Pinos Lighthouse. Almost certainly due to the fact that I grew up on Two Lights Road, named such for the two lighthouses that the road goes to, I love old lighthouses. Lights along the coast line are still used by ships, and the light is maintained by the US Coast Guard, however since the historical building itself is not actually necessary in this age of automation, the historical side of the lighthouse building is sponsored by the city of Pacific Grove which also relies upon donations from visitors. The tour guides were super friendly and I’m glad we made the stop.

Our afternoon continued down the 17-Mile Drive at Pebble Beach which included over a dozen marked stops for stunning views along the coast where we could stop and take pictures.

As the sun began to set we made our way to Carmel to see the beautiful white sand beaches.

We also quickly visited the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo. We wrapped up our weekend with a delicious seafood dinner in downtown Carmel at
Flaherty’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar
before driving home.

More photos from the weekend are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157628199907705/

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