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The kids pose in this shell every time we go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They’re funny.

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We arrived soon after it opened. Since we are members it’s really quick and easy to get in. We have seen the penguin feedings a couple of times. This time we really wanted to see the otter feedings.

The otter exhibit spans two floors. Upstairs was crazy crowded because of the upcoming feeding time. After trying upstairs we decided to just stay downstairs. We enjoyed watching the otters play under water before their feeding time. There are several flat screen TV’s downstairs that show the live feeding, so we didn’t miss anything.

Later we went to the theater to watch a show about Luna the sea otter. It was an interesting documentary. Luna was separated from her mom in a storm when she was just days old. Luckily she was found by an aquarium scientist who was able to help her. He failed to find her mom after pacing the beach for quite some time. So he took her to the aquarium to feed her and let a vet check her out.

Over the years scientists have learned that the best way to care for baby sea animals is to hide human identity from them. Otherwise the animals bond with the humans and cannot be reintroduced to the wild or maintain their own instincts. Luna was introduced to a surrogate sea otter mother and bonded with her. They said Luna went on to successfully have many of her own babies. It was a great story. Sea otters are so adorable. I love our otter family. Qualmie the river otter from the Seattle Aquarium with Becky the sea otter and her baby Einstein from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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This octopus puppet is much more elaborate than our octopus puppet Marty. We got Marty in June soon after the tentacles exhibit opened.

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I love this exhibit. The sea creatures are fascinating.

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Can you see the octopus? It’s behind the two red shrimp. It’s changing colors. It wasn’t as dramatic with the color changes this time as the last time we came. That time we were the only people in the exhibit for a while. The octopus was awake and alert and kept changing colors to match the clothes of whoever was standing right in front of it. It was so wild to see it turn white to match my jacket as soon as I stepped in front of it.

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It looks more white here. Maybe it’s matching Gavin’s white shirt.

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Do you want to play little guy?

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I think the tentacles exhibit is my new favorite. I still love the jellyfish but I’m getting bored of the groovy 70’s experience in the jelly exhibit. There were a lot of changes this time around. They had new jellyfish we hadn’t seen yet. Sea creatures are just fascinating to me.

We had lunch at the aquarium’s restaurant. It was very popular the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. We put our name on the waiting list and had to wait until 2:00 for a table to be ready. The food is okay. The owner has a very posh and popular restaurant in Napa. My problem with the food is it’s mostly seafood. I don’t like seafood. After spending the day at the aquarium where they have so many subtle and not so subtle save the planet plugs, I wonder why they serve seafood at all! Save the fish, eat a cow. I had a grilled chicken sandwich.

My other problem with the restaurant is they are so environmentally conscious they only have paper straws. The last time we ate at the restaurant we learned that paper straws disintegrate quickly in Diet Coke. This time we opted for water so we could drink it without a straw. The kids also had water but they had straws in their kids cups. We learned straws disintegrate in water too. Other than that the food was good and the waiter was nice.

I heart Monterey. We said goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa and our kids that evening then had the place to ourselves! Party! We did not eat dinner because our late lunch was more than enough food. We just hung out at the mall until my feet were hurting in my sexy high heeled boots.

Oh, I forgot to say that on Monday night we found a great little Italian restaurant called Giani’s. The kids thought it was called Giants! It was one of those hole in the wall type places. I was concerned as we walked through the crowded restaurant and only saw tiny tables for two.

You are supposed to seat yourself and order at the front counter at your convenience. They give you a number for the table and deliver your food when it’s ready. That’s as much service as they provide. It was a little weird to me until we found a table. An employee saw us wandering and asked how many people were in our group. I told him we had seven. He led us to a quiet section that I thought was reserved for parties. It was quiet and the food was the best Italian I have had in a long time.

On Wednesday when we were kid free, Heath and I enjoyed walking around Cannery Row. We bought Christmas gifts at the aquarium. We didn’t stay longer than that. We had already seen everything the day before! We went to the Nestle Tollhouse Cookie shop and bought cookies that we didn’t eat until after everyone went to bed that night! Heath bought us two bottles of Diet Coke that we sipped while we sat on the well loved couches in the shop while talking and listening to the 60’s MC channel on the TV.

It was just fun. I remember dates like that as a teenager were filled with stress. There was always the pressure to talk and get to know the other person better. Well when you’re 13 years into marriage the pressure is gone. You pretty well know each other and silence can be peaceful. There was never any pressure when Heath and I dated before marriage anyway. Everything about our relationship has always felt comfortable and easy.

We browsed in a couple souvenir type shops. Those are fun to look at. They have a lot of overpriced junk no one really needs. We also looked in a high end jewelry store with expensive art pieces for home décor. They had pretty things and I imagined it would be the kind of place my dad would like to shop in. But none of it called my name. I couldn’t imagine any of it adorning me or my home.

We walked past one store that I wanted to go into based on the Christmas decorations in the window. As soon as I took one step inside I realized it was not the type of store I was expecting. The decorations were for the window only. There was a festive table in the back but that was it. I immediately said I was done. But Heath was really excited.

What I thought were wine bottles were actually bottles of olive oil and vinegar. He was in heaven looking around the Olive Bar. It’s a chef’s dream of a shop! I was bored until we started sampling some of the stuff. He ended up buying three different specialty oils. One that smelled and tasted like Thanksgiving that he planned to use on the Thanksgiving turkey. That was the rosemary infused oil. He also got a chipotle infused oil and California garlic infused oil. Both were really good but I really like the chipotle one. Merry Christmas Heath!

Despite our last disappointing lunch at Johnny Rockets,we decided to go there for lunch. Luck was on our side since we got the waiter we were coveting the last time we were there. He is the best waiter! He’s very attentive and personable. Our previous waitress made ketchup smiley faces for the kids. They were plain old anyone can do it smiley faces.

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These ketchup faces actually look like us! I was impressed. It was a fun lunch before heading home. The whole Santa Cruz and Monterey trip was wonderful. We must do it again. Oh wait, we go there a lot. Because it’s so much fun!

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