Monterey is a city I associate closely with my childhood memories, since it was extremely often that my family and I would drive South of our home near San Francisco to explore the natural beauty of this beachside area.
The trip is one of ever-changing views, especially when getting closer to the bay. About halfway from my home to the city, we fly past various produce markets, vast fields, and a couple of outlet malls. We would frequently smell hints of garlic as we passed through Gilroy, resolving to revisit Gilroy Gardens and vowing to never again eat garlic ice cream. I distinctly remember the part of the trip that is along highway 156, feeling excitement swell at the sight of the large red antiques barn and a giggle escaping when I always notice the ad for Bubba Gump’s prime seafood and family fun (even though neither my family nor I eat fish). As we drove this time, I experienced many of the same sensations. Additionally, I noticed new roadside interests and rediscovered older music favorites thanks to my cousins riding in the backseat with us.
Monterey is home to about 28,000 people, 35 parks, and 3 beaches. I am always able to sense the fresh air before we even step out of the car, and the cypress trees, winding trails, single or multi-person bicycles, and many one-way streets immediately beckon to me upon our arrival. It definitely feels like a smaller town, especially compared to home, but it never feels cramped. With the water in such close proximity, Monterey is endless.
The aquarium is a crown jewel of this city, and to this day it remains one of my favorite places to visit and explore things I wouldn’t be able to experience on a normal basis. When I was younger, one of my aspirations was to become a marine biologist. For a while, I forgot about it, but when my family and I visited Monterey again for the first time in forever a couple days ago, my love for marine life was rekindled and I started to remember why I once so badly wanted to study the ocean.
The daunting task of college applications is approaching me at breakneck speed, and going to the aquarium that day gave me a little bit more insight into what I may want to study. Nothing is set in stone quite yet, but at this point a part of me is leaning towards a career in marine biology.
I’ve been about 90% sure that I want to stay in California for college, and visiting places like Monterey further affirms this notion. Even though I may not necessarily go to school in Monterey, the thought that such incredible places are within reach makes me want to continue life in this state. I love the general diversity as well as sense of community in so many places throughout California- for me, West Coast is truly Best Coast.
I am endlessly glad that we were able to sneak in a trip down to Monterey this past weekend. It momentarily took my mind away from the stress of standardized tests, college apps, and summer homework- I was able to regroup my thoughts and get a little inspired, as well. It was a short visit this time, but the summer is still young… and I definitely plan on returning soon.