The sun dawned on the second day of our road trip and we did all the necessary things like showers and breakfast to get our day going. After getting ready, we took some time to just stand on Matt’s balcony and enjoy the beautiful view of Morro Bay on a sunny morning. As we watched the city, we discussed where we would like to go and decided we would head up to San Francisco. I have cousins up in that area, so I called them to see if I could visit and they readily agreed.
Ready to leave, we packed up and once again got into Tyler’s car and onto the 101. The view had been beautiful the day before, but it paled in comparison to the gorgeous scenery we witnessed as we headed further north. The scenery of Northern California was truly a testament to the wonderful handiwork of God.
We travelled for several hours until we were ready eat and pulled of the freeway and into the parking lot of a gas station in the middle of nowhere to make and eat our peanut butter sandwiches. We finished eating our meal almost without incident (Nate did manage to spill water all over his shirt), and we walked into the dinner that was next to the gas station to buy some apple pie, because we simply had to have American apple pie in a roadside dinner to make our trip complete. It was good apple pie, though cold, but the experience was well worth the price tag.
Getting back on the road after having our fill of apple pie, we set out to reach San Francisco as soon as possible, but we would quickly find ourselves sidetracked by a worthy distraction. Visible prominently was a sign pointing the direction towards Monterey California. Ed Ricketts and the famous aquarium called our name and we took turn. Close to an hour later we rolled into the bayside town and I was immediately glad that we’d made the decision to come. There are, in my experience, faceless towns entirely without character, and then there are those that are alive with their own soul and history. Monterey is one of the later kind, and the steep narrow streets and old building transported me to a different time and place, while the gorgeous bay tossed into foam by a brisk wind filled me once again with that wondrous sense of the sublime. Thanks to the guidance of Maggie the faithful GPS we found our way quickly to the old Cannery Row, though finding parking proved to be a bit more difficult. Eventually however, we managed to park and headed into the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Getting to see the many creatures contained their was one of the highlights of our trip, though the price tag was a little high and it wasn’t quite as amazing of an aquarium as I had expected, being about equal to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.
My next task after our journey into the aquarium was to find the lab of the famous oceanographer Ed Ricketts. If you don’t know who he is, look him up. He revolutionized the study of tidal ecology and is the star of several of John Steinbeck’s books, including Cannery Row. The lab is a little brown building tucked between two shops and is entirely without any marker to indicate where it is. I asked a few folks where it might be found, including a tour guide at the aquarium, and only one of them was able to give me any direction at all. Luckily, I’d seen a picture of it before on Wikipedia and was able to find it. My oceanography teacher Dr. Garrison had recommended that I worship at the altar, but I contented myself with snapping a picture of it (as a side note, if your any sort of student and you live in Orange County, I highly recommend taking Dr. Garrison’s oceanography class while he’s still available as a teacher. You will not regret it.)
It was high time for a meal when we finished our quest for the elusive lab and we headed for Monterey Bay’s Fisherman’s Wharf to have a meal of Fish and Chips. We found a little pub called London Bridges Pub and ordered Fish and Chips and Guinness. The Guinness was so well poured, with a mountain of foam on top, that I was loathe to drink it, but I did. I have to say that Fish and Chips and Guinness is a top notch combination, so if you find yourself in Monterey Bay, head to Fisherman’s Wharf and get yourself some (and don’t forget to pay Ed Ricketts’ lab a visit).
Finally, we got back on our way to San Francisco and nearly got ourselves killed by a driver who decided to use the shoulder as a passing lane. When we finally reached the city it was after dark, and, while Tyler wanted to stop, Nate and I decided that San Francisco at night wouldn’t be a good idea for three guys who really didn’t know the area at all. We would discover the next day just how right we were. Because of this decision, we kept heading North and an hour later arrived in Santa Rosa and got to spend some time with my cousins Chris and Tiffany, as well as paying my aunt a visit. This was honestly the best part of my trip, as I pretty much have to coolest cousins in existence. After sharing some pizza, we headed back to their apartment and they offered to let us stay the night(didn’t I tell you they were awesome), which was much preferable to sleeping in Tyler’s car so we accepted. The next day would take us into San Francisco, which would lead us into some of our more colorful adventures, but that is a story for another day. Look for my account of the final leg of our journey to come in the next few days.