My son and I kicked off his summer vacation with a road trip north, first stop: Monterey’s Cannery Row–breezes that had us in our hoodies within seconds of stepping out of the minivan, views of the bluey bay, an aquarium, wildlife (captive otters in the aquarium, wild otters spotted from aquarium windows overlooking the bay), a hotel on the Row, upstairs room with a door that popped open in the middle of the night (chained, luckily–when I went down to the front desk to ask them about it, they assured me doors popping open never happens and that the hotel wasn’t haunted–I did not ask if the hotel was haunted–but that’s what they offered up), traces of Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts on building fronts, down alleyways leading to tidepools, tourists with bemused smiles until 11pm when the Row (surprising me, having read the novel multiple times and fashioned a certain impression) emptied of people and cars–instant night-calm as my son slept and I revised WIP’s before a fire in the grate (yes, Cannery Row was cold enough for a fire) appreciating the clammy cool vs. 100+ degrees in our broiling valley-of-home.
The only thing missing was my husband, who stayed behind to tend our ponderosa.
I encouraged my son to lead the way through the aquarium and he did, indoors, outside, upstairs, down into the Open Ocean exhibit where we gazed into a dimness housing swooping rays, bluefin tuna and, suddenly, from out of the water-gloom a hammerhead shark swimming straight for us. Ummm–seeing what I’m seeing? I asked my son. Wow, he murmured as the shark veered from us and swam off, returning a minute later, making tourists gasp above the chamber’s New Age music. Pretty amazing, my son said.
Jellies, sunfish, ever-descending grouper, rays and otters (rescues? I don’t know) and shorebirds (rescued, many rehabilitated and sent back to the beach)–but a hammerhead? My son explored other Open Ocean exhibits while I continued to watch the shark. I don’t like zoos. I do like the opportunity to appreciate/study our planet. So I’m a push-me/pull-ya zoo/aquarium-goer (although never Sea World). I hope I won’t meet a hammerhead in the real open ocean–but that doesn’t mean I relish watching from safety as one cuts endless circles around its cage. Way too Sea World-ish for me. Quite sad. Quite beautiful. Necessary? Look: A quote by Thoreau the aquarium displays boldly on a wall makes the joint as hypocritical as myself.