Friday, still in SF, we met with another old friend living in the Bay area and went to the Golden Gate Park where there is the Japanese Tea Garden (good tea, albeit more Chinese than Japanese) and the De Young Museum of modern art where there was an exhibit of stunning glass creations by a chap called Chihuly …. flowers and forests and bowls of coloured glass of which we took many photographs that will be posted once we rea back in touch with the technology again. I admit to being a philistine when it comes to modern art but this was quite something special.

Then for a snack and a beer at the Palace Hotel … it could have been Euro-style circa 1850 with a glass domes dining room and marble corridors. Gorgeous and very surprising in a city such as this.

The forest fires are still filling the air with smoke but towards the end of the day it started to abate a little bit – with luck tomorrow once we leave the city and start southwards the air will clear.

Sunday = Monterey.

Quick notes and time for some bird sightings …. despite the cold winds and the smoke from the fires we spent today visiting the Mnterey aquarium and then dropping in on some nearby coastling where we saw Surf Scoter, Heerman’s Gull, Barn Swallow, Pigeon Guillemot, California Quail, Western grebe, Brandt’s Cormorant, Black Oystercatcher and a host of more common species.

… and plenty of Sea Otters out in the wild. Beautiful as they are close up in the Monterey Aquarium they are impressive in the open sea. They used to be endangered but that seems to have changed hereabouts. we have pictures to prove it.

Food in Monterey is excellent with stellar seafood and some of the best sardines ever eaten by us. This is the town for quality maragaritas as well – we had o0ur first here many years ago and somehow they don’t taste the sqme elsewhere.

As a side comment … one of the main reasons for coming to Monterey was to visit the Aquarium again – we first visited it in 1987 and again in 1992 subsequent to which it was extended. It truly is a wonderful place and perhaps unique in the world in the quality of its collection and the research they perform but we were somewhat disappointed this time to discover that they have caught the modern museum disease which seems to necessitate dumbed down information panels, screaming children and loud (LOUD) announcements and information sessions, way too often interactive, aimed at idiots … OK, they want to educate the ignorant but do they need to alienate the rest of us who already can tell the difference between a ray and a shark and woulo like to add to our knowledge. Bizarre and annoying – but it’s a terrific facility for all that.