Sunday, August 7, 2011

California Road Trip of a Lifetime Day 3 - Santa Cruz, Moss Landing, Monterey,

We woke up in Santa Cruz at 7 am....WHY?!?!  Beats me, but at least we got an early start!  Our day started with a 4 mile run down the famous Santa Cruz boardwalk and then down to the pier to see the beautiful sea lions one last time.

The weather was perfect!  It was cool, around 55 degrees, with a nice breeze and a few scattered raindrops...ideal for running.  We then enjoyed some yummy waffles at the hotel and got ready for the day.

Around 10 a.m. we hit the road down Hwy 1 towards Monterey.  This particular part of Hwy 1 headed a little inland and went through the so-called "Salad Bowl of the World."  Yep, you guessed it!  This is where the majority of salad is grown.  There was lush greenery everywhere we looked.  About half-way in between Santa Cruz and Monterey we came across Moss Landing Elkhourn Slough.  This is an area of the bay that is home to a lot of wildlife.  Sea lions, seals, otters, and tons of birds were among the mix of wildlife we saw today.  It was incredible!  After taking a few a ton of pics, we were on our way towards Monterey!

I had booked the Monterey Downtown Travelodge before we had left for our trip...and let me just tell you, its not so pretty from the outside, but it is in a great location, the rooms are nice, and the front desk staff is very friendly, AND their is a free deluxe breakfast!  We arrived around noon and luckily got to check into our hotel early.

After we settled in, we bought tickets to the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, at our hotel, which I highly recommend instead of buying tickets at the aquarium, unless you want to stand in a long line.  Then we headed down to Cannery Row.  The front desk guy at the hotel was so kind to tell us about the free trolley that takes you all over the city.  We caught the trolley a block from our hotel and within 15 minutes we were at Cannery Row.  It was great and a well kept secret!  Who doesn't love free transportation?!?!  So if you are ever in the area, stay at a place close to the trolley and you'll never need a car!

We ate lunch at Sly McFly's down on Cannery Row prior to going to the aquarium.  We were starving.  This restaurant is said to be the oldest and most famous on Cannery Row.  And I must say it was pretty good!

Monterey Bay Aquarium is world famous and said to be the best aquarium in the world.  It was pretty incredible!  There were some amazing exhibits of jelly fish, tropical fish, the open ocean exhibit, a three-story reef exhibit, penguins, sea horses, etc.  I could go on and on.  It is definitely a must see if you are in the area!  We must of spent a few hours there and Andrew was like a little kid in a candy store, as he is most times he gets around animals of any kind.

After a fun time at the aquarium, we browsed the famous Cannery Row shops and bought some souvenirs.  After some shopping, catching an awesome view of the beach of Monterey, a cookie, or two, and some sightseeing, we decided that our feet needed a little rest and headed back to the hotel on the free trolley to get a little rest before dinner.

Around 7 p.m. we finally got ready for dinner.  We urban spooned it and found a nice authentic Mexican restaurant a couple of blocks from our hotel.  Lopez Restaurante had food that was so good and margaritas that were even better.  The hostess and waitress were very friendly, as were the customers that we met who gave us an excellent recommendation on what to order.  We ended up getting the combo fajitas and it was fantastic!  Once again, I highly recommend Lopez's!

We have had some really great food so far, and its only day 3!  I can't wait to see what Day 4 holds!  As of right now, its a 50 mile bike ride, please start praying for me now!

Stay tuned...

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