Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Road trip to Monterey! Part 1

Hello everyone. My coral adventures takes me to the beautiful Monterey Bay. I went there to visit a friend who has a huge reef tank. She actually lives in Pacific Grove, right next to Monterey. While visiting her, me and my wife also stopped by the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Here is my story.

Monterey is about three hours away from the SF area. There is a shorter route through a large freeway, but we took the scenic route to check out the beautiful central California agriculture lands. About an hour and half with traffic from the SF area, we stopped to check out the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on our way to Monterey. It was still early in the morning and the boardwalk hadn't opened up yet. During the summer, this place is packed with beachlovers and it is loads of fun. From riding roller coasters, to eating caramel apples, to shopping, or just checking out the girls (in my early days), this place was a hang out for me and my friends.

A view of the roller coaster ride in the background. The tall palm trees in the front reminded me of coconut trees in Bali!

And here is the cool guy (me) posing on the empty beach.

Near the boardwalk is a pier that sticks out into the bay. Here you can find restaurants and go fishing. We used to rent boats from here and go fishing out into the bay.

Notice the tiny guy in the middle of the picture? He is having fun with his metal detector. I used to do this back in my early days. It actually is alot of fun, as you never know what you are going to find.

After spending about half an hour, we were off again. Another hour of driving, we stopped at this fruit stand to buy some strawberries and use the bathroom.

The central California is well known for it's fertile soil. Strawberries and artichokes are the main things that are grown in this particular stretch.

Strawberry Fields Forever! Reminds me of one of my favorite Beatle's songs. Back in the early 90's a British band called "Candy Flip" remade this song and I used to play it during my "DJ" ing days.

The restrooms at the fruit stand were these outhouses. Still very clean and nice. They even had sanitizer lotion and papertowels - you'll never see this in Indo!

They even had a sink next to the outhouses.

Some huge strawberries for sale. Each one of these boxes costs only $7. Super fresh and super deal!

This double box set even included a bottle of chocolate! All this for $14, couldn't pass it up.

Oranges anyone? These would cost an arm and a leg in Indo, but here in Califronia, they are only $1 for two pounds (almost a kilo). There is nothing like fresh squeezed orange juice!

One of the ladies wrapping strawberries for sale.

Some cool local wines for sale.

A couple of huge artichokes. These are good if you steam them and dip in mayonaise and scrape off the meat. Artichokes grow well in this region as the climate is very temperate.

Some local jarred products. These range from pickled vegetables to spaghetti sauce.

One thing that caught my eye on the shelves was a series of hot sauces. Being a tobasco loving guy I am, I was intrigued by the variety and the creativity on the labels! Check out the following hot sauces!

Sure hope it doesn't taste like hog's ass!

A name like this, it must have been made by a "super ghetto star"!

For those of you guys that are into hot sauces, habanero peppers are Mexican peppers that are like 2 x hotter than tobasco peppers!

Ok Dave, I get the picture, your sauce is "sun burning" hot! As for the black widow hot sauce, I'd hate to be the guy spider! For sure, no survivors!

Oohh, check out the chunks of pepper seeds in this bottle! Check out the dude spitting out fire, too cool! or better yet, hot!

Good old fashion Grandma's secret formula. I bet it taste good!

Ok, this must be hot. It has a Mexican dude on the label. Mexico is known for their hot sauces, thanks to their habanero peppers!

Suicide for sure. All of these bottles have warning labels on them. They don't want to be liable when your ass catches on fire while taking a dump!

Ok, so this is my favorite, "rectal rocket fuel". Need I say more? The sauce on the right must be ultimately hot, even after death, you feel the burn!

And here I am, proud owner of some huge strawberries.

Proud owner washing strawberries to eat on the road! Delicious!

So we made it to Monterey and ended up getting a flat tire. We can talk about this "pain in the butt" incident on part 2 of this road trip. For now, let's have a look at some of the pictures from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Most of the exhibits in this aquarium are marine life of the Monterey Bay. Of course, there are fields of kelp in the bay and here is a replica of it. Check out the large male Sheephead at the top. It actually resembles a tropical wrasse - parrot fish. The females look way different and I didn't see any.

My wife Anne, posing in front of the lower level of this kelp exhibit.

It is an incredible site to see. The kelp beds of Monterey Bay is famous worldwide.

Some deep water white sea anemones.

Another beautiful deep water anemone. This one resembles the tropical cousin, the pseudocorynactis.

Some of the smaller anemones typical of deeper water found in Monterey Bay. The colors are extremely beautiful!

Tube anemones. Not so colorful as their tropical cousins, but still nice.

Sorry for the blurry photo. These are sand dollars. We normally typically find dead shells on the beaches. I don't remember seeing these in the tropical waters.

This looked to be a basket star. Very creepy looking!

Check out the coralline algea on this rock! This was a shallow water tidepool display.

A cabezone rockfish. It is more of a sculpin type rather than the rockfish, but this is what they are called. These are extremely popular at the Chinese restaurants. In Indonesia, the restaurants have live groupers. Here in California, we have these and the highly sought after, the lingcod. I have caught both of these on party boats out on the coast. For those of you that don't know, party boats are fishing boats that take you fishing for a fee.

The ever so nice smiling faced bat ray. You can actually pet these in this special display. I didn't notice, but I think all the stingers have been removed so no one gets accidently hurt. I used to catch these in the SF bay for fun, catch and release. They put up a good fight. Once caught, they cup their wings to create a suction and it is very hard to pull them off the bottom. On a large specimen, they just run and there is nothing you can do but let them. Once they tire out, then you can slowly reel them in. Once I was on a party boat out of the golden gate bridge fishing for halibut and one of the guys hooked into a monster fish. The sixty foot long boat had to chase the fish as it took off into the Pacific! For an hour we chased this fish and the guy got tired of fighting it. Then the mart Vietnamese captain took over and slowly brought the giant in. We were all trying to guess what it could be. We were using live anchovies for bait and it could have been anything. We were guessing it could be a great white shark, a large sea lion, or a giant Pacific halibut. But it turned out to be a giant bat ray. The wing span looked to around 7 feet. I had no idea this ray got that big. It was a world record for sure, but the captain smartly cut the line as soon as it surfaced. Man it was exciting!

This display was of a freshwater mountain stream. Water was coming down a waterfall into this pool where rainbow trout were hanging out.

These rainbows would eventually swim out to the ocean and become a silver color. Then they would return into the streams to spawn. Their colors change back to rainbow trout colors but a little different. These rainbows that go out to the sea and come back are called "steelheads", as their heads turn into a steel looking color. A great fighting fish if you are lucky enough to catch one.

Check out these cool looking cold shallow water anemones.

Cold water anemones can be extremely attractive, like this little beauty.

An anemone getting pounded by an artificial surge.

Check out these tube anemones, they look like the tropical water versions - way cool!

Of course, every aquarium has a touch tidepool. This is a nice bat starfish.

Another cool looking bat star. This one is purple and orange.

Wow, check out this beautiful starfish. It has blue nodules and has some purple at the very top! Way cool!

This strange looking this called a gumboot chiton. It looks like a giant sea slug but it is a chiton species. Once I found a white shell on the beach when I was a little kid and I was determined to find out what it was. I used to go to the library and looked through every shell book I could find. After a long research, I found the shell belong to this giant chiton. This chiton has plates on its back and is only visible after the chiton dies and the shells get exposed. It is called a butterfly shell. If I ever find it again, I will post a picture. I even memorized the scientific name when I was a kid! It is a Cryptochiton stelleri.

The highly desired giant abalone of the Pacific. There are several species, the giant red, smaller green, and the small black. For the most part, they are now protected and only in the Northern California, they are open to fishing with strict regulations. Poaching has decimated local populations along the central Calfornia coast.

Ok that is it for now. In a few days or even tomorrow, if I get the time, we will continue our road trip story and post more pictures from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Also remember I have pictures of my friend's giant reef tank as well. Stay tuned!



Anonymous said...

I love the way you tell your stories Eddie. You notice and remember all the interesting details. Just picked up that sweet eddie lobo from our friend in Hayward. Thanks so much for saving it for me. I feel honored that you entrusted me with this one of kind coral.

I don't like the new haircut either. You looked more rugged/manly with long hair. I'd grow mine out if I wasn't balding. Enjoy it while you can.

Eddie H. said...

Hi Xia,

Thanks man. It does take me quite a while to put the pictures and story together.

Yah, I would look pretty funny if I had no hair. Since my face is so round! I hear that there is hair transplant available. But the cost is $1 per hair. So when you make the millions, think about it:)


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