Vacationing Hypocrite (Monterey Edition)

jellyMy son and I kicked off his summer vacation with a road trip north, first stop: Monterey’s Cannery Row–breezes that had us in our hoodies within seconds of stepping out of the minivan, views of the bluey bay, an aquarium, wildlife (captive otters in the aquarium, wild otters spotted from aquarium windows overlooking the bay), a hotel on the Row, upstairs room with a door that popped open in the middle of the night (chained, luckily–when I went down to the front desk to ask them about it, they assured me doors popping open never happens and that the hotel wasn’t haunted–I did not ask if the hotel was haunted–but that’s what they offered up), traces of Steinbeck and Ed RickhotelAetts on building fronts, down alleyways leading to tidepools, tourists with bemused smiles until 11pm when the Row (surprising me, having read the novel multiple times and fashioned a certain impression) emptied of people and cars–instant night-calm as my son slept and I revised WIP’s before a fire in the grate (yes, Cannery Row was cold enough for a fire) appreciating the clammy cool vs. 100+ degrees in our broiling valley-of-home.

The only thing missing was my husband, who stayed behind to tend our ponderosa.

Our hero.

I encouraged my son to lead the way through the aquarium and he did, indoors, outside, upstairs, down into the Open Ocean exhibit where we gazed into a dimness housing swooping rays, bluefin tuna and, suddenly, from out of the water-gloom a hammerhead shark swimming straight for us. Ummm–seeing what I’m seeing? I asked my son. Wow, he murmured as the shark veered from us and swam off, returning a minute later, making tourists gasp above the chamber’shammer New Age music. Pretty amazing, my son said.

Jellies, sunfish, ever-descending grouper, rays and otters (rescues? I don’t know) and shorebirds (rescued, many rehabilitated and sent back to the beach)–but a hammerhead? My son explored other Open Ocean exhibits while I continued to watch the shark. I don’t like zoos. I do like the opportunity to appreciate/study our planet. So I’m a push-me/pull-ya zoo/aquarium-goer (although never Sea World). I hope I won’t meet a hammerhead in the real open ocean–but that doesn’t mean I relish watching from safety as one cuts endless circles around its cage. Way too Sea World-ish for me. Quite sad. Quite beautiful. Necessary? Look: A quote by Thoreau the aquarium displays boldly on a wall makes the joint as hypocritical as myself.


About PB Rippey

7th generation Californian, thalassofile and writer living in the mountains near Los Angeles. I write fiction (contemporary women's), poetry, and middle grade eco-fiction. I'm an active member of SCBWI. Long live my mini-zoo of pets.
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3 Responses to Vacationing Hypocrite (Monterey Edition)

  1. PB Rippey says:

    There is so much “good” going on at that aquarium. But can’t get over the shark. Giraffes? My gosh I can’t believe how much protection they need in the 21stc! And why would ANYONE want to “hunt” one? Must be stopped.

  2. Susan says:

    It’s a double edged sword – the zoos and all.I like to think maybe the hammerhead CAN”T be released back into the wild for whatever shark reason. In watching and loving the giraffes at the local zoo, I so want them (and all the animals) to be out in the wild, loping the savannahs, reaching for trees. Apparently, there are less than 100,000 in the wild and the poaching is fierce. Our zoo has an incredibly productive breeding program to add to the population, yet they will never be wild. So does it really count? I don’t know. But I do say thank you to the giraffes, the elephants, the gorillas, the leopards, and the lions when I visit them. It does expand one’s world to see them up close. And for your son, incite desire to heal the oceans for his and his children’s future.
    PS: Hammerheads – NO THANK YOU

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