Odometer Reading: 878
Moving everything up a day, we decided that we’d visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium while staying in Gilroy since it was close enough and besides, then we wouldn’t have to pull out all that camping gear yet again. So, for an hour I bugged the kids to get up and at ’em, hoping they’d be a tad more excited about seeing what is supposed to be one of the world’s best aquariums. We managed to get out on time, though and headed further west to the ocean.
Unfortunately as we reached the shore, there was nothing great to be said about it. It looked remarkably like an Oregon beach: cool, grey, cloudy and it stank. Luckily, we weren’t going for a day of sunbathing, we were there for the aquarium, but it sure would have been nice to see the supposedly-beautiful California beaches that people ramble on about.
Pictures after the jump
The aquarium was wonderful with plenty to see, including all of this:
We made it through the entire place in just under four hours, perfect time for our parking meter. Money was running out, so we did the dollar menu (which turns out to be a dollar-eight menu with tax) and drove back toward Gilroy. Stuart was interested in checking out Hollister and I wanted to see the mission, so we decided to do both. We had a few hours to kill and unless I got madly lost, we’d make it back in time for dinner with Grandma, Uncle Dennis, Aunt Jackie and Jackie’s mom, Theresa.
First we had to stop at Pezzini Farms in Castroville, supposedly the world’s artichoke capitol. Unfortunately, they weren’t any sort of ‘great deal’ despite being fresh from the farm, so I only bought a small pack of them. I wanted to try the french fried artichoke hearts, but they didn’t seem to be offering that day. I may have to just try it at home instead.
Past Castroville, we took the turn off for Mission San Juan Bautista, a mission founded more than 200 years ago in 1797. The museum wasn’t all that informative unfortunately and the heavy Catholicism was startling, so it wasn’t a long visit. We joked about the grills big enough for people and enormous tallow vats, but I’m glad the kids haven’t seen “Fight Club.”
As all teenagers (and most of the under-30 population, I’d guess), Stuart has seen the Hollister brand grow rampantly popular and with that background and a schoolmate who moved to Portland from the city, he wanted to see this place. What was this Hollister that was so famous, so wonderful that people decked themselves out with its name across their chests? Who knows. It’s a tiny podunk town that is mostly inhabited, it seemed, by immigrant farm workers. Cute little downtown, but nothing to be so proud about. Still not sure how Hollister the brand got so popular but it certainly wasn’t because the town is worth visiting.
We made it back to Gilroy (despite my worries that I’d get us lost out there) in plenty of time for dinner and a visit with Grandma. She remembered Lilyana and her mother (my youngest sister), which surprised and enamored me. So sweet. She talked with Audrey about horseback riding and Stuart reminisced over the knick-knacks she had around her apartment that had decorated her home when she lived in Newberg. I just loved being around her. I’ve known Grandma since I was just 15, when I met Brian (the kids’ father). She embraced me into her family then and despite the divorce and distance, she has treated me as kindly as ever. I cannot possibly explain how much I appreciate her kindness, except to say that I truly love this woman, despite the fact that we aren’t technically related. She’s wonderful and I’m so glad we were able to take the time to come visit her. It’s not so easy these days to see one another, but I want the kids to remember her fondly always. And I want her to know she is loved.