Sights seen (1) Monterey Aquarium: Monterey Bay is famous for its sealife, a deep offshore trench providing the perfect habitat for diverse marine species. Many of these can be found in Monterey's state-of-the-art aquarium, from sea-otters to sharks and from octopi to anemones. Kids on spring break rushed from tank to tank, gawping at the jellyfish and touching the rays. An impressive collection, mixing biology, ecology, arts and culture. Star Trek IV was filmed here, with whales George and Gracie living happily in the tide pool. Immediately outside the aquarium lies Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck's 1945 novel, but now a sardine-free street full of tourist tat.
Sights seen (2) BigSur: No, it's not the name of a leather daddy from the Castro, it's a world-renowned beauty spot 150 miles from San Francisco. We took Highway 1 along the spectacular Pacific coast south of Monterey, the road hugging close to the cliffside. Towering bridges crossed creeks, ravines and canyons, while down below huge waves swept across rocks and deserted beaches. After 20 miles we reached Big Sur, a long 'town' of campsites, cabins and hiking trails. Impenetrable mountains poured down like giant fingers, cloaked with conifers. We took lunch at Nepenthe on a terrace looking out high across the ocean. The building was originally bought by Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth on their honeymoon, but they never once returned to live here. I wouldn't mind coming back.
Fog index: Warm and toasty in the front seat of the jeep, cool and windswept in the back seat.
Seismic activity: We drove along Highway 280, immediately alongside the San Andreas Fault. In places a cracked crevice is visible, in others the valley broadens to hold a long deep lake filled with still blue water. Beautiful, and long may it stay that way.
Retail therapy: There are no mini iPods in the SF Apple Store. The bearded assistant told me there were none in stock with a fixed corporate grin on his face, so I shall have to live without mini music for a few more months. I shall in fact be returning home with no foreign goods of any kind, having completely failed to take any advantage whatsoever of the current weak dollar. I suspect that US Customs will deport me from their country as a failed consumer.
Number of photos taken: 22
Flying home: tomorrow