My introduction to the bay

My fascination with the Monterey area began when I was a teenager and developed in stages over many decades.

I grew up in San Diego. During one summer family-camping vacation, we drove up the California coast. When we reached Big Sur, I was in awe (as most people are). I had never seen forests growing to the ocean’s edge. And, what an ocean — wild and beautiful. I remember sitting at the base of a large redwood just watching, forgetting the time. I later got into a bunch of trouble for being “lost” for so long. But I never forgot.

My introduction to bay waters was about a decade later. I was on a grueling dive-certification trip for the California Department of Fish & Game (now Department of Fish & Wildlife). We started with a dive in the American River, then in Lake Tahoe, and finally in the ocean. The plan was to dive north of Santa Cruz, but we were warned off by Park Rangers because of a people-curious great white shark (as it turns out they’re rather common). We settled on diving in the Santa Cruz Harbor. I remember it being cold, rough and dark. I could barely see the edge of my mask. The only delight was discovering a small Pacific angel shark (or so everyone said based on ID-by-feel) and drinking margaritas in Monterey.

About ten years later (I didn’t realize this was a decadal transition until now) I moved to Monterey permanently to a dream job — working to open the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I was hired temporarily as a writer and spent nine months learning quickly about bay life, then sharing that info via the text accompanying the amazing living exhibits. Everything was exciting and new (in many ways), and we worked hard. The result turned out to be world class, and I decided to stay on after opening. I worked on school curriculum and training the incredible cadre of volunteer guides (docents). I remember the place and people were wonderful.

After a few years I left my job to pursue the challenge of starting a business. Building my business required so much time away from Monterey Bay that I lost my connection. It wasn’t until my sweetheart’s mother passed away that I found my way back to the bay. With my portion of her fun-money gift to each of us, I bought a kayak from Monterey Bay Kayaks. In 2007 I began kayaking the bay regularly. My kayaking is slow and easy, much like the way I was taught to dive. Take your time and enjoy the view. Even though I visit the same places, I see something new on every trip, which I plan to share with you.

Most of my Monterey Bay experiences have been on the south end. Earlier this year I decided to get acquainted with the entire shoreline. As part of a Slow Adventure tour, I walked (mostly alone) the beach from Santa Cruz to Monterey over four days. It was so amazing to experience the shoreline as a single entity rather than  a beach here and there. It gave me a completely new perspective.

Monterey Bay is an incredible place but, like most places, it’s easy to loose touch during busy lives. These blog posts are to help keep me exploring, keep me connected, keep me writing about my home.

Stop and take the time ~
to watch clouds, waves, birds, people ~
it goes so fast

About Chris Parsons

Science writer/educator exploring ocean coastlines and sharing via words, photos and stories to connect, inspire and conserve.
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