California's Monterey Peninsula: Big Sur, Aquarium, Whales and Carmel

California's Monterey PeninsulaIMG_3829

My wife Sherri was born and raised in the Monterey area. Here she is (left) on Carmel beach with her sister.two sisters old photo on Carmel Beach California photographersWhen we dated (I hired a professional photographer for the image below),sherri a (25)we drove to her home town  3-4 times a year. I joked with her that it was ALWAYS foggy when I visited. It wasn't until my 8th or 9th trip that the sun finally showed up.  :-)

Asilomar, Pacific Grove California.

While there, we would usually drive an hour south to go to Big Sur-it is so majestic!Big Sur California coast in fall 2015 Highway 1 road(Editors note:  You may ask "Bruce, WHY do you watermark your photographs?"  Because I hate theft. And I'm well aware that people -mostly from overseas-are pilfering photographs at an alarming rate for a variety of reasons.  This watermark causes them to lose interest and find easier pry.) Big Sur California coast in fall 2015 Highway 1 roadBig Sur California coast in fall 2015 Highway 1 road

Big Sur California coast in fall 2015 Highway 1 road

While there we'd always stop and eat at Nepenthe-with its' great burgers and view:IMG_4065 We'd sometimes go to Pfeiffer Beach State Park (below: with my daughter this fall):Julia Pfeiffer Beach State Park sunset, Sur Coast California Highway 1 (36) Julia Pfeiffer Beach State Park sunset, Sur Coast California Highway 1 (20)

Julia Pfeiffer beach state park Big Sur California on the Pacific ocean coast. Sunset and cool rocks near Monterey

Julia Pfeiffer beach state park Big Sur California on the Pacific ocean coast. Sunset and cool rocks near Monterey

And sometimes, we'd visit the Carmel Mission (the image below is taken with a color infra red camera):Carmel Mission and monestery order, church, Monterey Penisula, California (2 a)

Carmel Mission in Monterey Bay, San Carlos Borromeo, penisula California.  Old monestary and buildings great for tourists. Mission style architecture.

We would usually visit the Monterey Aquarium.  Our kids loved being there.

Monterey Bay Aquarium in Pacific Grove California is a renowed facility of fish and aqua life.

Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (56)

Look at the expressions from that exhibit!

Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (69)

Sea Otters were always some of our favorites:

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But the other wildlife was cool too:  Puffins:Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (196)Squid:

Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (201)

Turtles: Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (94)

Penguins:

Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (189)

Seabirds

Monterey Bay Aquarium in Pacific Grove California is a renowed facility of fish and aqua life.

Sharks Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (132)Octopus:Monterey Bay Aquarium in Pacific Grove California is a renowed facility of fish and aqua life.

And a host of other engaging creatures.Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (185)Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (138)

Monterey Bay Aquarium in Pacific Grove California is a renowed facility of fish and aqua life.

Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (146)

Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (113) Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (13) Monterey Aquarium, Pacific Grove fish tourists Monterey Penisula, California (9)

Sherri and I celebrated our 25th anniversary at the La Playa Hotel, ate at Tommy's Wok-her favorite Chinese restaurant-and watched the sunset on Carmel Beach (Something we typically did on every trip-as she grew up watching sunsets on this gorgeous beach).

It had been 10 years since our last trip to Monterey, and earlier this year Sherri was talking about breaking up the 13 hour drive by taking it in two days, as she wanted to back to her hometown.

After Sherri went to be with Jesus, her sister (who still lives in the area) asked to spread some of Sherri's ashes at the same location we spread their dad's ashes 30 years ago.  So I thought it was appropriate that our kids and I made the trip  and invite Sherri's siblings as well.

We started the trip by camping at Big Sur right near McWay Falls Humpback whales off the Big McWay Falls, Sur Coast California Highway 1 (4)Our camping spot was near Big Sur River ("stream" to us Oregonians). Here is an image of some reflections:

Big Sur River, California, Pfeiffer State Park campgrounds, Highway 1, water

And enjoying the sights at the southern end of Big Sur, where Humpback whales

Humpback whales off Big Sur Coastline California frolicking

and Elephant Seals hang out.

california elephant seals pups near Big Sur off highway 1

california elephant seals pups near Big Sur off highway 1

Then we went to Carmel Beach with her family.  It was a beautiful Saturday--right below the 17th hole at Pebble Beach golf course-to spread Sherri's ashes in the Pacific Ocean.... (L-R Kathleen-her sister, Randy-her brother, Patricia-her late fathers' wife, Sophia and me.)ash memorial service at the beach Carmel California photosWe also rendezvoused with Sherri's best friends growing up.  During that time, Judy (her friend since 3rd grade) suggested we go whale watching "It's like Whale and Dolphin soup out there".  She was right, and so glad we did. The warm waters have brought an abundance of sardines back to Monterey Bay, along with hundreds of Dolphins, which is highly unusual.

watching boats and Humpback whales and dolphins

We got the sunrise boat out-and just 15 minutes from Moss Landing, the Humpback Whales were everywhere.

At one time we counted 11 together. Moss Landing, whale watching boats, humpback, dolphins, harbor, Monterey Penisula, California (95)

The tail with Dolphins nearby. Moss Landing, whale watching boats, humpback, dolphins, harbor, Monterey Penisula, California (146)

This was great luck, to get a real rainbow from its spouting. Moss Landing, whale watching boats, humpback, dolphins, harbor, Monterey Penisula, California (154)

Three of them right next to our boat. Moss Landing, whale watching boats, humpback, dolphins, harbor, Monterey Penisula, California (115)

Quite a great trip.

To honor Sherri, we ended our stay eating at Tommy's Wok and watching the sunset on Carmel beach. Carmel Beach, Monterey Penisula, California Highway 1 (36) It was only then that I realized while I sat staring out at the oceanCarmel Beach, Monterey Penisula, California Highway 1 (104) that this view:

Carmel Beach, California sandy area by the Pacific and 17 mile drive, Pebble Beach golf course, Monterey Penisula

which was embedded in Sherri's soul, was reminiscent of the view she had from her favorite place: our Cottage in Pacific City Oregon sunset Pacific City Oregon Cape Kiwanda picturesNow I understand why she loved Pacific City so much.

I'm still discovering things about her.

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Personal segue:

I still can't fully believe that I've lost my best friend, my wife, my partner.  There is a part of me that still thinks she is coming home.  I know that may sound ridiculous after five months, but my guess is that I'm still emotionally tied to her that way after 35 years.  I'm trying to grieve and move forward, but I know it's going to take time.  I still check out a lot, but I'm guessing that is pretty normal. sherri b (3)

Fortunately I'm involved with 2 groups that deal with losing a loved one.  One is called Grief Share-which is a nationwide group.  If you know of someone who lost a spouse, sibling, parent or child, gently suggest to them to search this group out-they usually meet a local churches.

One can think "Time heals all wounds", but that is not true.  We have to do the work and this group can be a great resource.

I am grateful.  Many people have been so kind to me.  To not judge me when I cry or when I space out or forget things.  To reach out and not treat me like some sort of leper, but to offer gentle words, hugs, cards, sympathy, food, money, prayer, support, and yes, work.  Being a photographer is a joy to my soul and taking photographs not only gets my mind off my state, but inspires me too.

Above all, God has been so good.  He's shown me little things that He IS here.  It has gone beyond spiritual and emotional support to practical things.

It's often easy for us to think of the Creator of all things to be so big, that He doesn't care about us and our little petty stuff, but I've experienced first hand that He does. In Luke 12:7, Jesus says: "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered."  With over 140,000 hairs on a typical person's head....that is pretty amazing.

In the months to come, I'll share some of those things on a blog.  Until then, may the Lord of All, let us all see this life just a little bit differently....and have a little more hope.   <3

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California's Monterey Peninsula