For the last weekend of the year, we travelled two hours south to Monterey where we stayed for two nights to unwind a bit. We made no specific plans except to see the famous aquarium where the only captive white shark in the world continues to thrive in their big tank.

Things really clicked for us on this trip. We drove down without a lick of traffic and were greeted to a sun that parted the clouds that had been raining down on us for the past few days. Poking around for something to do that evening (it was New Year’s Eve after all) we found out that Monterey sponsors something called First Night in which the streets are blocked off to a host of roving bands, dancers, and other performers. For $15 you can drop into any number of events going on across town and in the space of a few hours we took the kids to see a world-class opera singer perform arias to us in California’s oldest playhouse, a local jazz band perform in a 1930’s era film house, an African drumming troupe, Greek line dancers, the local taiko dojo, flamenco dancing, belly-dancing, and a monkey with his organ-grinding master. We all picked up some elvish-looking hats with bells on them to keep things hopping. We stayed out as long as we could but the rain set in around 9 PM and after we took our showers and curled up in our bed we couldn’t keep our eyes open and ended up drifting off around 10:30.

New Year’s Day was perfect, the sun shone brightly and we awoke early and had a relaxed breakfast in our room and later somehow joined in member’s only early opening of the aquarium and were surrounded by lots of people that really knew their fish. The jellyfish exhibit was most impressive and ended up being the most represented in the photos I took of the weekend.

After lunch, just as it started to get crowded, we left the aquarium and, much to the delight of the kids, rented a four-wheeled cycle which we could power up and down the seaside path. They both enjoyed sitting up in a seat hitched up on the handlebars greeting everyone we passed. We later ended the day with a delicious seafood meal where Tyler & Julia had their first taste of lobster (Tyler was not impressed).

Today the rain started up again so we drove down 17-mile drive to Carmel and, after a brief look around, headed back home. A perfect weekend, especially for the discover that such beauty is only a short drive away.






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