Monday, December 4, 2017

Mom's visit to CA - part 1

Welcome back to California, Mom!  We were happy to have a week with her, starting with a "day after Thanksgiving" lunch and a tour of Kip's Google workplace.

The next day we drove up to San Francisco - I just happened to find a whale watching tour that went out to the Farallon Islands as well.  That sounded great to all of us, something new and interesting.  Loading up and getting set in the harbor:

The Salty Lady makes her way to the bay:

Nice view of Angel Island and Alcatraz (both are also really nice places to visit):

Heading out to sea:

Mom says it looks like she's ducking under the bridge  :)

We paused to watch a couple humpback whales on the way out to the islands, very cool.

A couple hours later, approaching the Farallon Islands.  We aren't allowed onto the islands but we did get a nice tour around it and a look at the wildlife.

Looking into the sun, it's hard to see but there's an arch in the near rocks:

Sea lions sprawled all across the rocks - apparently they can climb quite high up, giving them a bunch of options for sunning locations:

More sea lions, in and out of the water:

Lots of murres, gulls, guillemots, a couple pelicans, and we heard there was an albatross fly-by but didn't catch it.  The highlight was definitely the whales - many humpbacks plus 2 giant blue whales!  That was awesome.  We spent quite a bit of time along the drop-off of the Continental Shelf, watching whales spout water and surface briefly, with brief glimpses of flukes and fins.  They were quick for such large animals and I didn't even attempt to get a photo.  What a joy to watch!

Our next outing was to the south, continuing with the marine theme.  We drove down to Monterey to explore the aquarium.  We've heard great things about it for many years, and it didn't disappoint.

But first - a photo of the John Steinbeck statue, featuring Santa hats:

The back porch of the aquarium where we hung out for a while checking out the goings-on in the ocean.  There were naturalists helping people see what was there, and we could borrow good binoculars to get better looks.  That was great!  Otters playing, dolphins leaping, I think there were sea lions as well.  What a nice way to start the day.

The best I could do with the camera, this might have been a sea lion?  It's worth going to see all this for yourself!

A better look at marine life, inside the large tanks:

Love the otters!  They were super playful, and really fast.  And super cute:

Photogenic jellyfish:

Yeah, that's one tank I won't be jumping into anytime soon:

These swirling fish (possibly anchovies) were quite amazing to watch.  We saw the "deep sea feeding" where sharks and fish were fed with different methods, and this mob slowly worked its way up the giant tank toward the surface and gradually changed shape.  I should have taken some videos at the aquarium, now that I think about it.

Another feeding, this time in the large kelp tank - with help from a scuba diver.  She was great!  The fish seemed to like her too:

More otter shenanigans, playing with a green toy:

A special guest, Makana the albatross (from Hawaii!):


Tufted puffins!  They just don't have tufts right now, huh.  I was very happy to get to see them.  I'd still like to go puffin watching in Alaska.

A sea turtle, yay!  Always love watching them swim:

OK, so this was a bit of a madhouse - the penguin feeding.  They're so fast, darting back and forth, quite impossible for me (and my little camera) to capture on film.  But great fun to watch!

That's better - hi guys!

What a fun weekend!  We really enjoy exploring nature-related places with Mom, and these were excellent ways to learn more about the flora and fauna of the Pacific Ocean.  Thanks Mom!

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