We spent several idyllic days in Monterey, soaking up Julie & Gloria’s hospitality. I walked around trying to keep jaw off the ground at the beauty around us, from the curve of Carmel beach and glittering water to their time capsule, movie-set home in Pebble Beach and the striking views across the bay. They tried to tell us it’s not always this nice, and although it may well be true- it was hard to imagine it any other way than warm and sunny.
It says something about the boating community that before we even got to the harbormaster’s office, we ran into familiar faces (the Stewards on s/v Alert) and made new friends (Ann, Eric and Bear on m/v Oso Blanco- we’d been following them on AIS down from Half Mon Bay, and they’d heard us talking to Alert on the radio- having been tipped off by mutual friends to look out for Totem, since we’d be in the same area). Bear is 6 and immediately became fast friends with our crowd- we’re looking forward to seeing more of them in Mexico this winter.
Our first full day was spent at the Monterey Bay Aquarium- and I mean, it was nearly the whole day. We arrived with the Oso Blanco crew, on their bikes, barely 15 minutes after it opened in the morning- at 3:00 pm, when he was told it Really Was Time To Leave, Niall had tears in his eyes. They loved it, needless to say! The docents couldn’t believe how much Mairen knew about kelp (“how old is she? really”) …smart little boat girl that she is.
Gloria and I found driftwood on the beach that became the perfect bench on a swing she crafted for the kids. We made “good for you, really” (according to the guy who sold us the All Natural Vanilla Marshmallows at Whole Foods) s’mores on the patio at sunset. As anyone who knows my family well, of course, you’ll also know we played cards! Julie cleaned up, but Jamie was a close second…Glo and I are hopeless. 🙂 She’s an ace at tennis with the kids, though. I think one of my favorite images is the kids getting cleaned up after a walk on the beach. Check the Flickr stream for pictures!
We pointed south on a foggy morning, and (unwisely it seems) skipped the meclazine with the children…Niall and Mairen had their first experience with seasickness within an hour, although they did recover quickly. Heading south from Monterey, we were dazzled by visiting dolphins. First, a larger (100+) pod of Risso’s dolphins crossed our path- stunning displays of acrobatics as these bigger(12 foot) dolphins frolicked the boat. Later, a smaller pod of Dall’s porpoises danced and played on our wake. It was pure magic.
Initially we planned a stop at San Simeon to see Hearst Castle, but all weather signs pointed to this being an excellent time to keep going through to Santa Barbara. This would let us put Point Conception, the last intimidating point of land for a while, comfortably behind us. Changing gears was a no-brainer!
Niall helped Jamie and I with the watch schedule that night. He was SO excited and SO proud to have watch responsibility…writing in his log about how we were going to be up all night, looking for boats, watching for the oil rigs, etc. I started to wonder how we’d get him to actually sleep! Jamie and I traded off, and eventually Niall crashed in the cockpit inside a fleece sleeping bag (still in full foulies and wearing his PFD and harness).
Santa Barbara has been stunning. From the moment we arrived- OK, from the moment we recovered from a night of little sleep- it was clear we’d shifted climate zones. Different flora, different birds, different breezes, different colors in the water. The transition felt more dramatic than simply putting Point Conception behind us. I’m wondering why people we know who lived here ever left (Curtis, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do)- it is simply gorgeous. We’ve filled our stay with exploring the “old town”, visiting the historical museum (a small, but concentrated and fascinating collection). Our paths took us through the farmer’s market- I still can’t belive the variety and beauty of the produce, and how reasonable it is compared to Seattle- a nod to the climate. There were fun new things to try- fresh passionfruit, even, the kids loved scooping it out with a spoon!
Tomorrow we take off for the Channel Islands. We’ve been reading Island of the Blue Dolphins together (set in those islands), and the children learned native Chumash oral histories at a closet-sized visitor center we stumbled into in town. It will be as much as a week there, weather dependent, before we return to keep bouncing down the mainland.