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Vacation Scrapbook: Visiting Monterey, California

After we finished our time at my sister’s house (including my Mom’s funeral), we headed out to Monterey, CA for a fun vacation time!  There were 10 in our van and 6 in my sister’s car.  I counted to 12 (the kids) over and over and over during our time there.  And there always seemed to be someone missing that we had to search for!

Monterey collage

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Father’s Day

It was Father’s Day when we left town, so we stopped at a Father’s Day adventure for the kids to explore the planes, helicopters, and trucks.  My brother-in-law is a forest firefighter, so he gave us a lot of first-hand information.  Here is one of the helicopters he flies in.

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And here is the heavy backpack that he carries when on duty.

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Roadside Farm Stand

One of the things my husband and I loved about driving around California were the wonderful orchards, fields of fruits and vegetables, and grapevines all over.  We stopped at a luscious farm stand where we bought pistachios, cherries, and blackberries that lasted us for rest of the trip!

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After arriving at Monterey and settling in to the KOA cabins in Salinas (which I do NOT recommend), we slept and got up early the next morning to explore.  Our first adventure was to drive out to Big Sur and then do a little hike at the State Park there.

The drive along Hwy. 1 is so beautiful.

Great Tour Guides

We had the ultimate tour guides in my sister and her husband.  They were constantly texting us to give us information about the places we were driving by.  Occasionally, they even pulled over and came back to our van to tell a story.  Below is a picture of a military compound.  During World War II they used this spot to search the ocean for Japanese submarines.

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State Park

At the Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park, we walked over on this trail to see this pretty waterfall going into the ocean.  A couple had built a house during the early 1900’s that had this view out their bedroom window.  Pretty, huh?

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Redwood Forest

Then, not too far away in the same park was a redwood forest!

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Monterey Beach

Next, we drove over to the beach in Monterey to let the kids explore the waves and sand.  Of course, they got completely into the water.  Here my sister and I are discussing why we didn’t have them change into their swimsuits first–which we had in the car!

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Playing football in the water:

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Getting buried in the sand–because it was pretty cold out there!

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We headed back to the cabins for a quick dip in the pool and then to dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

Tide Pooling

The next morning it worked out perfectly that low-tide was about an hour before the aquarium opened.  My sister and her husband knew an awesome spot to go tide-pooling.  It was such a wonderful place to explore!

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Monterey Aquarium

Then it was time to head over to the Monterey Aquarium.  It made more financial sense for my family to buy a membership, even though we won’t be able to make it back there within a year and they don’t have any reciprocal memberships.  The total amount is tax-deductible, though.

The Monterey Aquarium was wonderful.  If you’re ever in the area, you’ll have to go there!

First, you can see all these seals sunning themselves right outside the building:

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Here the kids are sitting under a wave which simulates the tides.  (An extra child snuck in on the far right!)

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My mom loved puffins.  We had seen them in their own habitat when we lived in Alaska.  So, it was special to me to see this puffin exhibit here at the aquarium.

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Feeding Time

We went at feeding time to the deep sea exhibit.  A lady was explaining to us how they feed the different types of fish in there.  For some of them, they just drop cut up pieces of food in.  For others, they use a tool to get the fish to swim up to the top of the tank and they feed them up there.  There is also a huge school of sardines that just swarm around the tank.  They are supposed to stay away while the mahi-mahi are feeding.  Right at the end of the presentation, one sardine was suddenly left all alone.  The lady said, “I hope he makes it.”  And right then a mahi-mahi chomped him right down as everyone was watching!

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Next we walked out to another beach for them to explore.  They didn’t get too wet this time.  Then we got some ice cream.

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Here are the Twelve!

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Mission in Carmel

We decided to do one more touristy thing and visit the Mission in Carmel before getting pizza for dinner.

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Later that night we headed back to the beach to watch the sunset.  A perfect ending to our Monterey vacation!

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See all of our California trip posts here:

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  1. So fun! Thanks for linking up! I’m from Southern California and we’ll be meeting my family in Monterrey really soon. I’ve been before, but it is so fun to see your photos of these places- makes me wonderfully homesick and can’t wait to introduce my kids to the Redwoods too!
    -S.L. Payne,

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. It looks like you had such a fun family time exploring.

  3. I am so very sorry for the loss of your mother.

    The scenery in some of these pictures is so beautiful. How wonderful that you were able to visit all of these places with your sister.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us!

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