The Octopus, Monterey Bay Aquarium

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I am a Beatles fan so I had this song stuck in my head for the rest of the day when I saw the quote on the wall of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.    And, to be real honest, I’m singing it in my head right now as I type.   (Come on, sing-a-long with me … )

Every time I have ever been to any kind of aquarium exhibit, the octopus is usually hiding in the darkest corner of the tank basically begging for everyone to go away–far, far away!    Not on this day, though.   This is the most photogenic octopus I have ever met.   It was front and center on the tank begging for photos and posing like a pin-up model.   So impressive!

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I’m wondering what the tentacles feel like.   Have any of you ever actually touched an octopus?   Do they bite?   Or are they stranglers like a boa constrictor?   Eeew.   I’m freaking myself out now.   Yikes!

 

The Kelp Forest, Monterey Bay Aquarium

I have to admit that I didn’t think The Kelp Forest was going to be that big of a deal.   I mean, I really thought it was going to be a fish tank with some seaweed.   Honest.   Wow — I was wrong.  This is way cooler than just some seaweed.   Way cooler!

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The tank is three stories tall and open to top of the building so natural sunlight shines in through the water.   It is amazing.   I could have stood there all day watching leopard sharks circle the kelp.   All.day.long.

I never imagined that kelp would be this beautiful.
I never imagined that kelp would be this beautiful.
Peek-a-boo, Fishy!
Peek-a-boo, Fishy!
Scuba Steve answers questions from INSIDE the tank.
Scuba Steve answers questions from INSIDE the tank.
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Just a section of the huge kelp forest tank.

This is a must-see and makes the $35 per person admission to the aquarium worth it.   To watch some video of the sharks in the kelp forest, check out my YouTube channel, HERE.   I don’t have the video upgrade on this blog so … you gotta click through to get there …

Have you ever been to The Kelp Forest at the Monterey Bay Aquarium?   What did you think?

Is there another exhibit at a different aquarium that compares to this?   Please tell me about it.   I think I might be adding aquarium visits to my travel wish list for the future.

The Jellies Experience, Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of those magical places that must visited at least once in your lifetime.   If you are lucky enough to live close, it is mandatory that you visit regularly to see how the exhibits change and go to special events.  The aquarium sits right on the bay and there are tons of natural wildlife to see all along the coast including seals, sea otters and whales.   And, in case you are feeling left out because you are too far away, those crazy scientists in Monterey have lots of live webcams for you to check out the sea creatures from home, right HERE.

Today, however, I am going to take you with me on part of my family’s adventure through the aquarium.    It was a wild Saturday during peak hours in the middle of summer.   So, that means my four year old ran out of patience pretty quickly and every square inch of the place was crawling with tourists (just like us) trying to get the perfect picture for their scrapbooks.   I would have loved to stayed in the aquarium all day to learn more about all of the different species and the interesting trivia that wins on Jeopardy but that just wasn’t possible.  Here’s the highlights and our trippy adventure with the jellyfish.

“The Jellies Experience” is the jellyfish exhibit and has been set up with a 60s theme; groovy music, strobe lights, and a psychedelic feel that’s totally mellow, ya.   Right on!

So, enjoy the fake names that I have given all of the jellyfish in the photos because I wasn’t paying attention to all of the signs and see what I think they should be called.

Do you have an aquarium near you?   What do you name the jellyfish?

Up next:   The Kelp Forest …

Beach Days

My family and I visited Monterey Bay in California last weekend.   It was just a short visit but we made sure to get some beach time in while we were there.   The sun cooperated on the first day but the foggy, marine layer stuck around too long on the second day for us to get much warm weather.   It didn’t matter to us, though.   The icy, cold water of the Pacific was still tolerable enough to wash our souls a little bit.   It’s always nice to get away from the norm for a bit and recharge.  What do you do to recharge?

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watching the waves   beach1 b

beach2 wide view

Plus, those cold weather days are good for seashell hunting!   Check out our beach loot:

beach loot

Stay tuned for more Monterey photos … of course, we visited the aquarium.   And, there’s a cool lighthouse out on the point, too!

Roadside Sunflowers

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I take pictures all day.   While I’m driving, I see things that would look good on real film.   I see things that would be fun to Instagram.   When I’m at work, I imagine how everything would look with a digital filter.

These sunflowers grow wild on the side of the road every summer.   They are wild and free.

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Now, they are mine to share with you.

Get outside and enjoy some summer.   Maybe, take a picture or two.

Lake Tahoe by Kayak

9 with all of the lake

One of my goals for this summer is to circumnavigate Lake Tahoe by kayak with a friend of mine.   It is about 72 miles and something many people do every year either by camping along the shores or breaking into multi-day segments.   My plan is to split the adventure into at least six (maybe seven) day trips and share it with you through my camera.

If you would like to know more about Lake Tahoe and the water trails, access points, etc, please click HERE for more information.

You may also notice a Tahoe Keeper sticker on my kayak in many of the photos and videos.   Lake Tahoe’s water brags a 99% clarity and one the best ways to maintain that is to keep invasive aquatic species out of the water.   All boats are inspected prior to launch in Tahoe and even kayaks can spread pollutants.   Please click HERE for information on the Tahoe Keeper program and how you can get a sticker for free, too.

This is one of my favorite pictures that shows almost all of Lake Tahoe so you can see the full lake.   I took this last summer from the Tahoe Rim Trail and hiked 14 miles to see the view.  This is from Snow Peak facing West and shows the full beauty of the mountains in the Sierra.

TRT Higher Tahoe Pano

Now, for some kayaking … we put in our boats at Sand Harbor State Park and paddled north through Incline Village, Crystal Bay, Stateline Point and the day’s destination, Kings Beach.    It was a peak Saturday with temperatures in the high 90s at the lake so it was a busy beach day.

Blue skies, blue water!
Blue skies, blue water!
As we were leaving Sand Harbor, we noticed some diver and dog training exercises.   How cool is that??
As we were leaving Sand Harbor, we noticed some diver and dog training exercises. How cool is that??
There's my kayak buddy in front of me.   You can also see some traffic in the background on the highway.   It took us forever to launch and park.   Ridiculously busy day.
There’s my kayak buddy in front of me. You can also see some traffic in the background on the highway. It took us forever to launch and park. Ridiculously busy day.
The boats of Incline Village.   Schmancy.
The boats of Incline Village. Schmancy.
Seeing the houses from the water is a real treat.   I'm sure this one is a bit outside of my budget.
Seeing the houses from the water is a real treat. I’m sure this one is a bit outside of my budget.
Ya.   Nice Chris-Craft wooden boat.  Cha-ching. $$$$
Ya. Nice Chris-Craft wooden boat. Cha-ching. $$$$
parasailer
parasailer
expect to see a lot of the back of this kayaker in my next few posts, she's camera-shy but will tolerate this much fame
You can expect to see a lot of the back of this kayaker in my next few posts, she’s camera-shy but will tolerate this much fame
I have a thing for taking pictures of my paddle against the water.   This picture is straight out of camera.   The water here looks soooo blue.   It is even prettier in person.
I have a thing for taking pictures of my paddle against the water. This picture is straight out of camera. The water here looks soooo blue. It is even prettier in person.
I was trying to get a shot of another parasailer here.   They were slowing the boat down and 'dipping' the person.   Crazy.   It turns out that my camera liked the bubbles from my paddle in the water better.  I thought it looked cool too.
I was trying to get a shot of another parasailer here. They were slowing the boat down and ‘dipping’ the person. Crazy. It turns out that my camera liked the bubbles from my paddle in the water better. I thought it looked cool, too.
Stateline Point.   From Nevada into California on the water.
Stateline Point. From Nevada into California on the water.
Right after Stateline Point, the rocks and depth of the water changed.   The wind picked up a bit, too.   But, look at how clear the water is!
Right after Stateline Point, the rocks and depth of the water changed. The wind picked up a bit, too. But, look at how clear the water is!
Kids jumping off rocks ...
Kids jumping off rocks …
Stand Up Paddleboarding is popular these days.   This was the SUP Super Highway to Kings Beach.
Stand Up Paddleboarding is popular these days. This was the SUP Super Highway to Kings Beach.
Even from the water, the beach looks packed.
Even from the water, the beach looks packed.
A beautiful, busy Tahoe day.
A beautiful, busy Tahoe day.

When I’m done with my trip around the lake, I am going to put together a video with snippets from the paddle trip and post it all together.    What do you think so far?

The Car Wash

 

 

 

I love going through the car wash.   There is just something fun about it for me.    I’m pretty sure it has something to do with that movie from the 70’s and, of course, the Rose Royce classic song.

“At the car wash
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Talkin’ about the car wash, girl
Come on, ya’ll and sing it for me”

Most automated car washes are just a quickie through the rinse machine by a gas station and nothing like the one in the Car Wash movie but … every now and then, I pretend.

First, there’s the rinse:

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Then, the big roller thing that seems to beat the hell of your car:

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Oh, don’t forget about the side, flappy/scrubby things.    This is right about when panic starts to set in and you realize that you cannot leave your vehicle.   And, you imagine some idiot trying … which would be complete madness.

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Almost, there … final rinse.   Then, the massive dryer thing.  You can see daylight again.

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Just wait for the green light from the machine and enjoy that fresh, clean car feeling.   Aaaah.

“(Hey, get your car washed today)
Fill up and you don’t have to pay
Come on and give us a play
(Do the wash, right away)”

The Routine

 

 

My pictures are going to attempt to tell a story today … let me know what you think.

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This is the window in my office, the 8-5 cave where I dwell in exchange for a equally depressing paycheck.   I moved the furniture around last year so that I could see out of the window more easily.   The space isn’t great but at least I can see what the weather is doing or the comings and goings in the parking lot.

Over time, I have noticed that the elderly lady that works in the office across the way is usually driven to work every day.  The driver even returns for lunch.   EVERY.DAY.  The lady is always well dressed with her hair just so and her driver is older as well with bushy white hair.   He doesn’t seem as well put together, his normal attire is sweatpants and a t-shirt.  I imagine that the driver does not have an office destination after his daily shuttle service.  Who knows, maybe, some Price is Right or a bit of crossword before returning?  At any rate, they seems sweet together and clearly have a very strong routine.

I enjoy seeing them every day.

And, then, it changed.    The car just stayed in the parking lot one day.   ALL.DAY.  No driver with the bushy white hair.  No lunch break shuttle.  And, when I saw the lady, she wasn’t as put together with matching dress slacks and bag as she had previously been.  Her head was hung low and her walk was slow.

The scene made me so sad.

I wondered what had happened.   Did he die?   Or, was he just ill?   I have no connection to this couple and don’t even know anyone in the office across the way to ask.   I just watched through my window.

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(I felt like a total stalker taking this photo through the blinds, by the way.)

 

She came and went, alone.

I was resigned that life happens and I would now look at this KIA every day with a little bit of forlorn, a lonely sad little KIA in an office parking lot.

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And, then, it happened!

He appeared!

Whew.   I was worried about this dude.   He has no idea how close I came to running out of my office building and patting him on the back to congratulate him on his return to the routine.  My routine.

Had he been sick?   Was he out of town visiting family?   Did they get sick of the routine and he just stayed home to watch the Today show?   No bother.   The routine was back.

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And, yes, the stalker in me even felt a little guilty photographing their smooch, but … it shows how sweet their love is.

Every day, he carries her handbag for her and gives her a goodbye kiss.

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And, I feel a little bit better about watching the world from my office window.   Order has been restored.  Now, I should probably get back to work and quit staring out the window.

 

New Views of the Same Places

 

 

 

 

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This is the first view from my new commute to work.   I am now living in the valley instead of driving down from the mountain.   And, this is just the same view from a different angle.   Pretty awesome, eh?   Pretty lucky to see this from my living room, too, huh?   Ya, go ahead, be jealous.

I’m also using this opportunity to play with a new app on my phone.   It’s called Pixl-O-Matic and it’s about the same thing as Instagram but it has tons more filters and you don’t have to share them in an Instagram feed if you don’t want to do it.   Pixlr also has a couple of other photo editors available but this seems to be the easy, more playful model.   Pixlr did not pay me to say that.   The app is free and I like it.

Back to my commute view, I now drive through Washoe Valley by Little Washoe Lake.   The lake itself is a part of a state park and wildlife preserve so there are tons of birds.   The wind kicks up around here on a pretty regular basis so there are lots of opportunities for windsurfing but the lake isn’t really deep enough for big boats or anything like that.   I do, however, plan to do some kayaking out there when the weather warms up a bit.

 

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Once you are out of Washoe Valley and headed back toward Reno, you drive through Pleasant Valley.    This was recently the main thoroughfare from Reno to Carson City.   I am happy to report that there is a new freeway and this road has much less traffic.   It’s almost like an old country road, including pastures with horses.    I am going to have to get more comfortable with using cruise control, though.   The speed limit is only 50 mph through here.   Yikes.

My old drive was down from those mountains in the background.   The sunrises from this angle are going to be awesome.

 

 

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And, of course, my drive to work still includes this stop.   Why can’t I break you, Starbuck’s, WHY?

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