Admiral, There Be Whales Here!

Let’s revisit Loba’s San Francisco trip!

Okay, so Kirk and Spock didn’t actually go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to find George and Gracie, the whales that would save humanity from that giant…cylinder of lead. They went to the “Sausalito Cetacean Institute,” a magical place right on the outskirts of San Francisco. (We went to Sausalito. There were no whales there. No nuclear wessels either. Groovy T-shirt shop though.)

And, yeah yeah, there weren’t any actual whales at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (other than the giant humpback whale sculpture suspended from the ceiling near the aquarium entrance). However, how could I not jump at the chance to visit the place where Spock swam with George and Gracie?

I do believe, in fact, that this was the tank into which Leonard Nimoy made his Vulcan plunge:

(Not that difficult a guess, really…this is pretty much the warp core of the aquarium. And, yes, I am going to milk this Trekkiness for as much as I can.)

So, yeah, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was in the back of my mind the entire time we were at the aquarium. It is, after all, one of my three favorites of the Star Trek movie franchise. On a really nostalgic day? It might actually be my favorite. After all, it was the first Trek movie I ever saw. We always have a special place in our hearts for our firsts, eh? Besides, it’s funny, silly, and utterly quotable. My favorite TOS character, Dr. McCoy, in fact delivered the lines that never fail to make me laugh out loud each time I hear them:

McCoy: My God, man. Do you want an acute case on your hands? This woman has immediate postprandial, upper-abdominal distention. Now, out of the way! Get out of the way!
[They enter the operating room]
Kirk: What did you say she has?
McCoy: Cramps.

Seriously, nails me every time. Wow, but I love DeForest Kelley.

But this isn’t about Star Trek (Really? Could have fooled us, Loba. Shut up.). This is about the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Yes, it’s a bit of a haul from San Francisco, but it’s totally worth the drive, especially if you choose to go there via California State Route 1. What a gorgeous stretch of road! I’ve wanted to drive along Highway 1 for years. My only regret is that it was utterly dismal weather the day we drove along this beautiful stretch of California coastline: dark, thunderous skies; torrential rainfall; and a constant, chilling wind.

However, none of this had much impact on the aquarium experience (although the poor little sea otters were stuck out in it all day). Here, then, are my favorite shots from the aquarium:

I wish I could have gotten some better shots of the sea otters, as they were the “stars” I most wanted to see. However, the murky skies and the steady rain played quite a downer of a role in setting up pretty shots. Plus, the sea otters seemed a bit off that day (gee, wonder why?). I’m just glad I got even these semi-salvageable shots. Yeah, it is blurry and a bit dark, but how cute is that pic of the sea otter snout zooming toward me?

That was the other thing that I learned while at the aquarium: I still have quite a bit to learn about taking photos with my Big Girl camera. While I confess that some of the blurring in these photos was intentional (I love the simulation of motion in photos sometimes), some of it was simply user error that worked to my advantage…sometimes. Those photos that don’t fall into the category of “sometimes” shall remain far, far away from the lair…