Saturday, February 23, 2013

Coast Guard Pier Monterey, CA

With Dan's work schedule, we travel from town to town and sometimes state to state during the weeks that he is off work and at home with us.  When it's time for him to go back to work, the kids and I stay put in one place for a month.  When we were planning where to go on the California coast for our monthly spot, we changed our minds at the last minute and ended up in Monterey instead of Morro Bay.  I'm sure Morro Bay is beautiful, too, but I truly think we made the best decision for this stay.  There is so much to see and do here that we finally sat down and made a list of everywhere we wanted to go.  Best "to do" list ever :)

One thing on the list was a visit to the Coast Guard Pier at low tide.  We were told that this was the place to go to see starfish, anemone, and all the other more colorful little sea creatures.  Other than a few dollars at the parking meter (did you know the meters take debit cards now?  I had never seen that before), there was no charge to go onto the Pier.

standing on the pier looking towards Cannery Row

We planned our visit around the tide schedule, we wanted to go during the lowest possible tide to up our chances of seeing critters.  The day arrived with the lowest tide during daylight hours and it was raining off and on, but not hard enough to keep us home.  We just grabbed a couple umbrellas and went anyway :).

We had barely stepped onto the pier and already the kids spotted several brightly colored starfish clinging to the rocks.  They were so excited..."look, look, LOOK!" could be heard by anyone within shouting distance :).  These pictures really don't do it justice.  The colors in person were so vibrant and pretty.  As usual, where water and sand are involved I just can't bring myself to use my big camera...I tend to be a bit accident prone.  So, cell phone photos will have to do :).

can you see the little crabs?

The critters were out in full force.  We saw pink, purple, and orange starfish.  Bright green anemone, pretty pink stuff clinging to the rocks, and little crabs with dark bodies and bright orange claws.  There were a couple of sea otters chilling in the kelp off shore and some dolphins jumping out of the water and seeming to have a grand time.

Something else was there, too.  We could hear them barking long before we saw them...sea lions!  Lots and lots of sea lions.  When they are resting they seem like the most relaxed things in the world.  They will attempt to raise their heads and instead they just kinda loll around and drop back over.  It's funny :).  Some of them were so close we could have petted them if we wanted to.  We did not want, they are wild animals and who knows what they would do if you touched them...and two, they STINK, really really really stink.  Bad.

After watching the sea lions for a while (they are all the way at the far end of the pier), we started walking back.  We noticed this sign warning us of a possible Tsunami...scary.

There was also this little building covered in the prettiest green moss...

Near the end of the pier we saw a sea gull.  So what, right?  Wrong.  This sea gull was so gross.  He was attempting to eat a starfish and it was way too big for him to swallow.  One side of his neck was bulging with it and there were still a couple legs hanging out of his mouth.  The real kicker?  He was standing on a rock eyeballing another starfish!  Nasty ol' thing :P

At the end of the pier there were stairs leading down to a little beach called the breakwater, a popular spot for divers to enter the bay.  We spent a little while checking it out and watching the dolphins play just off shore.

On the other side of the beach is the beginning of Cannery Row...old Sardine Factories that have been rehabbed into some nice restaurants and shops.  There were some relics on the little beach from one of the old factories...

We had hoped to walk down Cannery Row and pay a visit to the Ghirardelli shop for some ice cream.  Just as we started walking that way the sky let loose, so we hurried back to the car instead.  If I had it to do over, I would probably just pop open the umbrellas and go for the ice cream ;).

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