The first full weekend after the holiday break was upon us. After an interminable Saturday morning spent entirely indoors, I looked over at Jon and inquired, â€œWhat are we doing tomorrow? Because weâ€™re not staying here.â€
This morning we awoke to the dreary drizzly gloom of a winter rain. So our natural inclination was to pack up the boys and head south to (not-even-a-little) sunny Monterey for an excursion to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
There were no major meltdowns or Don Quixotic episodes. Thankfully, I was able to maintain my composure after discovering many of the exhibits were undergoing construction and there would be no sea otters. <Sad face. Because those are my favorite. So much cute!>
Instead we entered the cavernous fish tank to the shouts of, â€œITâ€™S A BIG WHALE!â€
I focused my efforts on finding the cafe that could bestow upon me the ambrosia of coffee. Warmâ€¦caffeineâ€¦droolâ€¦ But the express cafe didnâ€™t open until 11:30 a.m. WHAT COFFEE PLACE IS CLOSED UNTIL LUNCHTIME?!
In an effort to
distract me entertain Search and Destroy, we meandered over to the Kelp Forest and Deep Sea Reef to begin our tour. The boys were entranced.
â€œBIG SHARK! LOOK! ANOTHER ONE!â€ the boys screamed alternately as giant fish swam by.
Grouper. Sturgeon. Bass. Leopard sharks.
When I returned my attention to my children (their dad had them, itâ€™s not like I was neglecting them – but I digress) a cute little blond babe (probably around age 1) had stumbled over to say hello and grasp Destroyâ€™s hand. Her father came scooting after her shortly thereafter. What can I say, my kidâ€™s adorable.
It is in this environment where a parent realizes the nirvana of an excursion to a place filled with small children. Yes, it is chaos. But there is also a serene calm of societal belonging – everyone is frazzled and out of control. A simple knowing smile, nod, apology and shiny object distraction of, “Look! A rainbow trout!” and all is once again well with the world.
The moment passed quickly as both boys discovered the jellyfish experience, yelling, â€œBUBBLESâ€ in unison as they raced toward the glass.
One station allows tiny peeps to touch creatures within the water – starfish, abalone shells, kelp and seagrass. Search and Destroy initially appeared exceedingly skeptical, but warmed right up to the frigid pool as soon as they thought they were doing something prohibited. (Bazinga!)
The second floor of the aquarium is where the fun stuff is. Itâ€™s where I finally found the coffee stand. It was my favorite exhibit. Oh. Right. Iâ€™m supposed to be telling you about the marine life.
Visitors are engulfed in a giant Open Ocean tank filled with all kinds of creatures only found hundreds of miles from any shoreline. Destroy immediately made a new friend and had one of the Aquarium Babes (volunteers) explaining about schools of fish and searching out the great green sea turtle for him.
Meanwhile, Search was waiting in the back as he quickly decided he wasnâ€™t a big fan of the sharks that seemed to swim right up – face-to-face with a potential muppet meal. (Just remember: Fish are friends. Not food!)
As we wrapped up our morning, I was totally craving sushi for lunch. Is that so wrong? Oh donâ€™t be so judgey. I had fish and chips instead. And it was good.