Saturday, November 2, 2013

Our trip to Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Francisco

I know I promised these pictures forever ago, finally getting around to posting them:

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk ("where everyone has a good time" as my dad always adds)

 Levi loved the swing ride, it was so much fun to see him so excited!

I remember wanting to ride this hang glider ride when I was a kid, but I was never tall enough.   Well, I am now! 

And then we went to the MontereyBay Aquarium.   They have a great website, check it out!   They have all kinds of curriculum and activities for classrooms and homeschoolers, and live videos of various exhibits they have, and a whole lot more. 

It was a beautiful day, unusually clear. 

This glass dome is under a giant gushing "water fall" like thing, the water goes in and out with each wave.  

This is the building, taken from the back by the bay.

 The Touch pool, always my favorite as a kid. 

There was another exhibit with birds that dove into the water and swam by.   They had another dome kids could get into to check them out closer.

There was a scuba diver feeding the fish and sharks in the big tank, which also has giant kelp.   My kid of course, made his way to the very front through the crowd of people, and then stood up when everyone else was sitting.  And I was way too far away to get to him or tell him to have a seat!   

With some "connections" my mom has, we were also fortunate to get a behind the scene view of the jelly fish.  From the main rooms, the tanks look endless, but they don't go very far back at all.   They are all round, jelly fish tend to get stuck in corners.  

Here our guide is explaining a tank of tiny jellies (that is behind where I'm standing, I didn't get a good picture)  When the aquarium first opened, they got a bunch of them from the bay.  Then, when they needed replacements (jellies don't live long), they tried to find more, and there weren't any.  Jelly fish come in "waves", meaning sometimes there are a ton, sometimes there are none.  So the aquarium now has their own nursery. 

We were also taught the phases of a jelly fish.  They larva forms a polyp that looks like a sea anemone, circles of it pop off and each one becomes a jellyfish.  

Another view of the big tank.  

The backs of a bunch of tanks.  Its interesting how "magical" these look from inside the aquarium with special lighting and everything - and from the back it all looks very industrial.  They have everything very well organized back there. 

These are the jellies from the biggest tank you see in the above pictures.   (Mute the video, its just people talking away in the background, it was a weekend so a pretty busy day to go!)

 They have an entire section that has all different kinds of sea horses. 

I always remembered this giant whale when I was a kid, it hangs above the main lobby. 

Nai Nai, Buddy and Levi outside

This guy is an albatross.  We learned that you can tell the difference between albatross and seagulls because albatross don't flap their wings, but seagulls do.  

And Levi volunteered himself for the demonstration:

 The front entrance (yes, my dad bought a new shirt while we were there!)

We drove around afterwards along the coast. 

And stopped at an artichoke farm

And then went to San Francisco.

Levi and the crookedest street in the world.  

Legoland's version:

We planned on going to the Exploratorium.  We haven't been sense they moved to a new, bigger location.   Unfortunately it was closed!  
We checked out the gift shop and then found this "skateboard science" thing outside.  It had all kinds of hands on skateboard experiments you could try - from standing on a board to rolling a wheel around in a giant ball to testing different bearings. 

Then, we went to see where they do the America's Cup sailboat racing.  No racing that day, but they had things set up that you could look at.   They had large patches of astroturf with giant bean bags on them, and screens to watch the race.   They also had random large beds around, I guess to lounge on and watch.  A little strange, but also fun to test out.   

This is one of the junior boats.  

In the kids area, they had a bouncy castle, rain gutters with boats to race (by blowing on them), a coloring station, and these sails to hoist.   

And a neat looking sculpture outside.  

And as usual, Levi had a new outfit for the trip, which you can see in the aquarium photos.   It is a button down shirt (that I made with just 2 fat quarters of print fabric I've been hording plus some scraps of solid colors), and a pair of red skinny cords, complete with some unique knee patches.  The back of the pants also have a shark embroidered on the pocket!

So sorry that took so long to post!  If we had made it to the Exploratorium as well, it would have been a perfect trip.  We had a great time!

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