Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Menace Park, and a Dangerous Mexican Restaurant

Whew, what a day! Wednesday was a wonderful vacation day. We started off with an inspiring morning at the world-renown and impressive Monterey Bay Aquarium. I didn't know that sea otters were so important to Monterey; but they had a wonderful diisplay concerning their threatened habitats around the earth. There was a two-story aquarium with gigantic ocean sunfish, graceful sea turtles, massive tunas and many other beautiful fishes. The kids enjoyed the penguins and a play zone where they could draw and learn about sea mammals like whales, seals, sea lions and dolphins. The facility was housed in an abandoned cannery factory; the museum included many elements of the original slaughterhouse to educate us about the abuses of the ocean, its fragility, and the lessons we have learned.

Eva, Isaac and Levi are fascinated by sea lions - this particular kid section had lots of buttons to press, buttons that made loud animal noises.

Isaac the scholar, teaching his Daddy about the ocean!

Isaac the dess up dolphin. I'm not sure what they were supposed to do with that stuff, but whatever it was, we didn't do it...but the kids still liked using them.
After a great morning at the aquarium we wandered over to Jersey's Cheesesteaks restaurant; it is a sports bar with great cheesesteaks and fish. With lunch finished we got back to the hotel so the kids could get a nap. I sat by the pool and read for a couple of hours - ahhhhh. The kids woke up ready to go, so we headed down to the famous Dennis the Menace Park. It's a wonderful playground with inventive and delightful equipment for kids of all ages. The kids impressed me with their climbing abilities. We spent along time there, and then had to scoot to find a place for supper at 9pm.

Isaac has turned into a climbing machine. Up and down he went on all sorts of steps, chain ladders and curly poles. What a big boy!
Levi and Isaac both love slides, they couldn't get down them fast enough to climb up something in order to go down the slide again.

There is a local Mexican restaurant across form our hotel that we decided to try; it was mostly empty...which always annoys me about restaurants. But we were already there and thus took over the place. No sooner then we got the hands washed, kids sat down in chairs and mouths full of chips and salsa, we had a scare. All the kids were sitting on their knees, which is typical, but Levi happened to push back from the table for some reason, and he pushed the whole chair backwards. Since he was on his knees, he somehow landed on his feet, standing on the back of the chair. The fall frightened him, and he started choking on the chips in his throat. Between crying and gagging, we all were worried. The manager rushed out at the wailing sounds of our son, but there was nothing he could do. Eventually Levi calmed down, got a drink of water, and in a matter of minutes was munching on salsa soaked chips. We finished the meal without anymore scares, but we wondered what else Levi would do on the trip. He's already scraped up both knees and fallen out of his bed. But we're still having fun.

Now Thursday is coming to an end. Eva is over playing with Emma and Levi, Isaac is tearing pages out of his puzzle book, Eli just went down for a nap and Lydia is conked in her bed. We're waiting on pizza to show up, Jerm and Maria are out on a date celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. Dad's already in bed and we're kind of wishing we were too! This morning we started off on a three hour tour of the Big Sur. Faye located a local guide who got a small bus for us to ride along the windy, hilly historic scenery. He took us by beautiful homes worth eight figure numbers; soaring cliffs, fog-soaked crags, and the deep blue ocean. It was a fun trip and it was nice to not have to drive - just ride and sometimes snooze.

Aunt Faye and Isaac laughed alot on this trip! She was excited for us to see Big Sur, and Isaac loved sitting in a bus with no car seat, no seat belt, snuggled up to his dear aunt!
As good Hallman's, we stopped for a snack; here Emma is trying to convince Eva that she really should eat this ygourt snack - it is good for her and tastes good too.

Beautiful Emma outshines all the glory of the gorgeous ocean shore.
Here's the Hallman clan at Big Sur!
Ahhh, how sweet!

We got back for lunch at Louie Linguini's, a great local place with fresh seafood, eclectic and funny decor, and slow service. It seemed to us that since Californians are relaxed, they don't rush with getting their food to you - but when they did serve it, ooooh it was so good. Isaac especially enjoyed his very fancy and very tasty Macaroni and cheese.
Eli stayed relaxed too, he'd pass for a Californian anyday!

After the meal we drove over to the Old Fisherman's Wharf to shop. We needed to get some sweatshirts with Monterey emblazoned on the front. Once we found what we wanted, we celebrated with delicious ice cream - kids got bubble gum ice cream, I got double scoop of banana nut and peanut butter fudge. Yum. Then we walked over to the beach - what soft sand and salty ocean. Levi didn't care for it so much, but Isaac did; we walked hand in hand along the shore letting the surf wash up over our toes and shorts. Uncle Jerm had Emma and Eva in hand, cracking jokes and enjoying the sunshine. Once we got back to the hotel I took E.L.I down to the pool for a refreshing swim - their getting really good in the water; Levi will now kick himself all over the pool without holding my hand! Now we're bathed, in our p.j's, snacking on pizza; parents are counting down the minutes till bedtime!

May our footsteps always follow the same way...

Papa Ger and the guys modeling their new Monterey gear.

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