Leaving San Francisco for a 125-mile /200-kilometer drive to Monterey.

After a quick breakfast of sandwiches, fruit, and coffee at Bread and Cacao, next-door to our hotel (199 Sutter Street and Kearny), we headed south on US-101 to San Mateo.

route 8 SF - Monterrey

I forgot to back-up the webcam footage that evening, so newer files had unfortunately overwritten this leg of our road trip. Therefore, no footage of the near collisions as some idiots used the ‘remain in your lane’ concept to do a 90mph / 140km/h slalom to still make an exit for SFO. Luckily, we set course to the coast by taking Highway 92 to Half Moon Bay, where we picked up Highway 1 southbound again, readjusting to the laid back pace and fantastic scenery.

The only scenic pictures we took along the way was at our first real stop at the Gazos Creek Año Nuevo State Park near Pescadero:

As we wanted to visit the aquarium in Monterey that afternoon, we only had a short stop in Santa Cruz. The Hawaiian food we had in Eureka had struck a chord, and due to our craving for a good Poke Bowl, we had selected Pono Hawaiian Grill (120 Union St) for lunch.

Chantal opted for the Salmon-Cilantro & Avocado Poke: cubed salmon filet, sweet onions, green onions, tomato, fresh minced cilantro, and sliced avocado, shoyu poke sauce, black sesame seeds and sushi ginger on top. I chose the Creamy Wasabi Poke: cubed Ahi tuna, sweet onion, and cucumber mixed with wasabi mayo and topped with Japanese furikake seasoning, sushi ginger, and crispy wontons. They were both incredibly tasty! The kids had the Grilled Teriyaki Beef: sirloin tip beef marinated in a shoyu, garlic, ginger and sugar-based marinade topped with sesame seeds and green onion (and steamed rice and macaroni salad of course!) as well as the very lovely Kalua pork Quesedilla which came with a very nice sweet and sour sauce.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium was a great experience because a number of the tanks relating to the local maritime life are connected with the Monterey Bay. With surf and current simulation and pumping vast amounts of bay water into the tanks, they tried to recreate the natural habitat as much as possible. Also, the history of the Cannery Row, immortalized in Steinbeck’s classic novel Of Mice and Men, was very impressive.

The Lion’s mane and Egg-yolk jellyfishes, the larger species of jellies found in Monterey Bay (and along the entire west coast of the Americas) are truly fascinating, especially the egg-yolk jellyfish pictured here. As if a large egg was cracked and poured into water, their bell is yolk-yellow at the center, with hundreds of tentacles clustered like an underwater spiderweb. I think that despite the crowds, I spent about 5 minutes looking at their slow and majestic movements.

With an entrance fee of $50 for adults and $30/40 for children and students, respectively, it was one of the priciest visits on our road trip, but well worth it, and it was completed packed on an overcast Tuesday afternoon.

As we spent several hours in the Aquarium, we checked in the Hotel Abrego (755 Abrego Street) around 6pm. We spotted a Thai restaurant, Krua Thai, in a food court across the street from the hotel (731 Munras Avenue), and their menu also had noodle soups on it, so the kids were in favor of having dinner there.

For starters, Chantal opted for a cup of Tom Yum Soup (Tofu, Lemongrass, tomato, mushroom, cilantro, and lime juice), and the rest shared a portion of the Thai Chicken Satay served with peanut sauce. As said, for mains, the kids opted for beef and chicken noodle soups (rice noodles in chicken/beef broth with bean sprouts, green onion, and cilantro). They had a variety of flat noodles – relatively thick and a width of about 1¼ inch / 3cm – that we had never come across before. The kids loved them and impressed the waiters in how far they managed to eat the adult portion soup.

Chantal had her eyes set on the vegetarian Panang Curry with baby corn, carrots, bell pepper, and basil, which was delicious. I chose their signature Laab Kai dish, which was ground chicken marinated in lime juice, roasted rice powder, mint, and red onion served with cabbage wedge. This was a truly fantastic dish, and despite medium hotness, its incredible punch was really addictive. At the least, when you visit a Thai restaurant, you already prepare yourself that “medium” hotness level is the equivalent of burning out in a controlled manner, under constant supply of Chang and Singha beers… Sweat was beading on the brows, but we just had to dig in again and again… Yum!

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