(Photos courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium, an amazing place to visit!)
TT’s friend wrote a very detailed post about her great experience kayaking in Monterey, at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuary near Moss Landing (see her post at http://blog.pixnet.net/crazycat1130/post/10478526). Because it sounded like so much fun, and her group saw many cute animals including sea otters frolicking about, we followed her footsteps hoping for similar good fortune.
Due to our prolonged eating tour of the Ferry Building in the morning (guess the love of food runs in the family), TT and I didn’t get to Monterey until close to 3 p.m. After renting a two-person kayak, we spent a good amount of time getting trained and putting on the bulky gear, including the super-tight wet suit (exposing all my fat!), life vest and jacket. Since we were relative novices, we had not expected to encounter problems related to getting into the water – for example, although I had brought towels, neither of us had packed sandals (going barefoot didn’t really work, since our pampered “city” feet are not equipped to deal with any type of gravel). The rental guy also eyed TT’s expensive SLR camera equipment and shook his head, saying that “camera and salt water just don’t mix.” Luckily for us, TT had a waterproof case for a smaller point-and-shoot so we should at least be able to capture some of the scenes.
After what seemed like an interminable length of time, we were finally on our way! It was an incredible experience to be out paddling in the open water, which feeds into Monterey Bay. Unlike being in a boat, I felt so close to nature as we paddled our kayak – all you hear is the lapping of the waves, the chirping of birds and, almost immediately after we rowed out, the yelping of seal lions – hundreds and hundreds of them sunbathing on the beach! From afar they looked really cute, but as the current pulled us closer we started panicking and paddled hard to move away from them – it is very scary since any one of them, weighing around 300 lbs (!!!), can easily capsize our boat!
Because we did not have a lot of time before we had to return the kayak at 5 p.m., we paddled at a brisk pace, stopping only from time to time for photo ops. This area is abundant with sea otters, water birds and other wildlife! Although we were not lucky enough to get close-up pictures of the sea otters, superstars of the Monterey area, we saw many of them playing around in the water (you are also supposed to stay at least 15 feet away from them – TT and I joked about whacking a sea otter if it tries to climb on board, which has been known to happen). Unfortunately, it was soon time to return. TT and I had to row vigorously against the rising high tide to return to our dock. It was much harder on the return trip, and at times it seemed like no matter how hard we rowed, we stayed in the same place. 😦 Even though my arms were so tired (unlike TT who has an active lifestyle, mine is quite sedentary), I had to push forward because we were already running late. Due to our furious paddling efforts, we ended up getting back only 15-20 minutes after the designated time. The tough part was carrying the kayak back to the store – with the heavy kayak, even the short walk was challenging (not to mention the fact that our arms were already really sore).
When we finally got back to the car, each of us wolfed down a Luna bar and a piece of the banana cake that TT and WW had gifted to us. These banana cakes from Vigor (維格) (see photo from its website below) are super-delicious!!!
I almost love them as much as my favorite Chia-Te (佳德) cranberry cakes! Which is very unusual, since I am not even a big banana fan.
(Photo courtesy of TW food blog by Darren Nicole, which also reviews Chia-Te pineapple cakes in detail)
We met up with WW and AK for dinner at Kokkari, a famous Greek restaurant in the San Francisco Financial District. Although we have always had excellent meals there, this particular meal was only decent. I enjoyed my lamb chops, but Alex really did not like his deep-fried dorade, a fish from the Mediterranean (and he loves all things deep-fried). Maybe we should have ordered the roasted pig’s head (one of the daily special) for the table! Haha… 😀
(P.S. Embarrassingly, I don’t have any photos from the day, so am filling the void with some photos of the cakes from other websites…I have to start taking more photographs!)