Best Aquarium Ever

I am a little bit biased. My beach town is right next to Monterey, so my fave aquarium is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I hadn’t been inside for over two years, even though I always buy a yearly pass.

Today I needed to check out the gift shop to see if the book I am trying to sell would fit in with the books on the shelves there.

I parked at a meter and had to double-pay since the meter didn’t register my fourteen quarters. I used my credit card, figuring it would still be cheaper and less hassle than a parking ticket.

I walked in the door at 10:00 a.m., and for a summer day, it wasn’t that crowded. Nobody was in the gift shop except for me and bunch of employees. I flipped thorough several books and even found one written by a woman with two-thirds of my name. Who knew there was another writer named Susan Middleton? And that she lived in San Francisco?

I had every intention of walking out the door and heading to Carmel to do my usual thrift store circuit. But the aquarium was calling me. I stopped to watch the otters play underwater and then turned for the door.  But there was the cannery exhibit.  I checked out the display about the cannery that used to be in the aquarium building. Then I turned to leave, but I thought I might as well turn the corner and see an octopus or two. The usual stroller brigade was missing, so I was able to inch up to the glass and check out the huge octo, its tentacles stuck to the glass. One by one, tourists came up to take a photo on their phone.

Those rookies!  I have so many aquarium animal photos that I felt no need to snap a picture. Then I wandered to the display of the other octopus.  It was putting on a show, moving back and forth across the glass, its suction cups undulating from smallest to largest, times eight.

Okay, I was done. Carmel was calling, but what the heck. I would just check out the kelp forest tank. Oh, and the big tank with the huge fish was just a bit further. When I got there, I looked down and saw a huge school of shimmery fish swimming in a tight formation. I almost lost my balance, so I looked up, steadied myself and saw the hammerhead sharks.

As I strolled down the almost-empty hallways, listening to the strange yet comforting music, I thought, this must be what it’s like to meditate.  You get taken to another place. The calm was settling into my brain.

Everything was pristine clean, and I wondered why I hadn’t been there in over two years. Oh, yeah. I’d loaned my family passes to a friend’s son, and he got caught with them. Shortly after that I got a letter stating that I no longer qualified for family passes, that my kids had aged out. Coincidence?  Maybe. Maybe not. My friend’s son has since passed away. It was a sad but good memory to think of him as I walked through the exhibits.

I still have a pass for one.  It’s an expensive place for a one-day ticket, a better deal to get the annual one.

Oh, well, I’ve come this far. I might as well see the Open Sea tank. Oh, what the heck? Why don’t I cross over to the Tentacle exhibit?  There are the anchovies in the cylindrical tank.

Then down the stairs to another huge tank. The back-lighted jellyfish were on the way, and then finally, I turned to an exit where an employee stood guard. It was the same overly-enthusiastic woman who had checked me in at the express line at the Members Only door.

I told her about my book, and she gave me the name of the guy to contact to get my book into the gift shop.

First, I have to sell it.




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