Tag Archives: Central Coast

Tentacles Take Over the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Tentacles have taken over the Monterey Bay Aquarium — and that’s a good thing. This weekend, the new Tentacles exhibit debuted in Monterey, Calif., and, while I most likely haven’t thought much about cephalopods since eighth grade science, this new exhibit helped me rediscover my love for these curious creatures.

The new Tentacles exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium // (c) 2014 Janeen Christoff
The new Tentacles exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium // (c) 2014 Janeen Christoff

The exhibit features one of the greatest varieties ever of rarely seen animals and includes multimedia interactives, tattoos and art that traces 4,000 years of human fascination with these creatures. Over the life of the exhibit, visitors might see any of the two dozen species that will rotate through a dozen living exhibits, from giant Pacific octopus to Hawaiian bobtail squid, the wunderpus and others – including one of the world’s smallest squid and one of the world’s largest cuttlefishes. Due to the short lifespan of these creatures, exhibit curators have been cultivating a variety of cephalopod species over the last two years to populate the exhibits and create a healthy environment. In addition to the live exhibits, there are three mechanical sculptures that were commissioned by the aquarium from Nemo Gould, a contemporary artist living in the Bay Area. The sculptures demonstrate the importance of conservation to these creatures’ habitats.

Sculptures commissioned by Nemo Gould. // (c) 2014 Janeen Christoff
Sculptures commissioned by Nemo Gould. // (c) 2014 Janeen Christoff

Admission to the Tentacles exhibit is included with Monterey Bay Aquarium admission. www.montereybayaquarium.org

Retreat of the Week: Quail Lodge & Golf Club

Guestrooms at Quail Lodge // (c) 2014 Quail Lodge & Golf Club
Guestrooms at Quail Lodge // (c) 2014 Quail Lodge & Golf Club

Quail Lodge has been a family favorite in the Carmel Valley for years. With world-class golf, a myriad of hiking trails and the Monterey Peninsula at your fingertips, the property is an ideal spot for a weekend getaway. The resort was recently rejuvenated and reopened last year. The new look features historic California ranch and Spanish colonial design elements that result in a look that is comfortable, modern and distinctly Californian. Each guestroom has a private deck or patio that overlooks the lakes, golf course or lush gardens. Some rooms have fireplaces which add a cozy feel to the atmosphere of the room.

The lobby at Quail Lodge // (c) 2014 Quail Lodge & Golf Club
The lobby at Quail Lodge // (c) 2014 Quail Lodge & Golf Club

Resort guests can dine at Edgar’s, located in the Quail Golf Club, which offers lunch and dinner featuring California cuisine. Golf is available on the 18-hole Robert Muir Graves-designed golf course that is now managed by KemperSports Management. There is a heated outdoor pool, a bocce court, tennis courts and weight and cardio center as well. For the adventurous, the on-site Land Rover Experience Driving School allows guests to climb behind the wheel and master a variety of off-road obstacles.


Last-Minute Road Trip: Our Central Coast Itinerary


After five days on the road driving around California’s Central Coast in a rented RV, we headed home. As we left the Pacific Coast Highway, trading ocean views for rush hour traffic, we realized that our return was bittersweet. I would miss the refreshing breezes California coastal cities such as San Simeon, Cambria and San Luis Obispo, but I really wanted to take a hot shower and enjoy some air conditioning.

Our final itinerary ended up being ideal. We began in Los Angeles and left with the kids in the evening, putting them to bed in the motor home. We arrived in Avila Beach and found a free, safe place to park overnight. Avila Beach offers free parking along the shore from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Since it was the Fourth of July, we headed out early in the morning to get parking. When we arrived at the beach, there were only two other RVs parked along the water; by 8 a.m., it was getting difficult to find parking; and by 10 a.m., the coastline was packed with holiday revelers. The Central Coast is often foggy in the morning, but the clouds lifted by 11 a.m., and we enjoyed a sunny Fourth on the beach, wrapping everything up with a campfire on the beach.

On day two, we headed North to Cambria and San Simeon. Since we were traveling last-minute, we weren’t able to get a reservation at the San Simeon Creek Campground. As many of the state parks do, however, they offer first-come, first-served spots. We arrived at 9:30 a.m. and were 13th on the waiting list but the park ranger said that our chances were good — they have almost 300 campsites. Sure enough we got in at 11:30 a.m. and had a gorgeous campsite at the top of the campground with views of the Pacific from a bluff and shaded by trees. It was only a short walk to the beach, and the three-mile San Simeon Creek Trail loops around the campground and is easily accessible. We stayed for two nights, exploring tidepools, beach combing on Moonstone Beach and exploring the town of Cambria. We could have easily stayed one more day and gone to Hearst Castle, visited the elephant seals or shopped in Cambria.

We headed out from San Simeon around noon to camp close to home in Malibu on our last night. The drive was beautiful, however, the campground, Malibu Creek State Park, was set back from the ocean and wasn’t quite as spacious as our site in San Simeon. Still, it was clean and was only a short walk to the ocean. From Malibu, we drove home in order to return our RV by 11 a.m. that morning. When we stopped for coffee at Starbucks, we knew we had returned to reality.

Cruise America

Malibu Creek State Park

San Simeon Creek State Park