July 1, 2011
Earlier today a moment arrived at the new Open Sea exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which debuts for the public tomorrow, which stopped my ocean-loving heart for the tiniest fraction of a second.
It happened as one of the triumphantly returning sea turtles dipped smoothly deeper from the surface of the million-gallon tank, traversing pale golden shafts of sunlight. (Two relevant notes: 1) This smartphone shot doesn't do it justice; the other pic, from MBA photog Randy Wilder, is much better; 2) check the above link for more on how the turtles' departure triggered the larger reinvention of the award-winning exhibit.)
As he glided downward, banking in a lazy, graceful spiral, a sheet of silver snapped in half before him as a jittery school of sardines sought escape. The communion and collaboration of sunlight, sea turtle and sardine was, in a word—OK, two words—damn beautiful.
Another comparable collab also starts tomorrow with the seasonal debut of "Evenings by the Bay," the Aquarium's increasingly popular extended-hours summer promotion that ropes in wine, cocktails, snacks and live jazz. Instead of closing at the standard 6pm, Aquarium exhibits stay open until 8pm Saturdays and Sundays.
As part of the proceedings, Estancia will taste visitors on its various varietals for free from around 6-7pm. A bar by the cafe-restaurant entrance will proffer some classics that will almost certainly materialize in more creative versions than most mortals could conjure with Cindy Pawlcyn and Jeff Rogers at the controls.
Think antipasto and fruit-and-cheese plates ($8.50 each), shrimp cocktails and crab louis ($12), little pizzas ($11), sweet potato fries ($3.50) Pawlcyn's deservedly famous cookies (two for $4) and creme brulee ($4).
There will also be a coffee cart and live jazz curated by Monterey Jazz Festival power brokers from 6-8pm.
All of the festivities center in the Marine Mammal Hall where whales hang from the ceiling.
Here's a look at the scheduled lineup, which runs through early September:
Saturday, July 2: Roger Eddy Sunday, July 3: Gary Meek with Eddie Mendenhall, Dan Robbins, Kim Edmundson
Saturday, July 9: Roger Eddy Sunday, July 10: Kenny Stahl
Saturday, July 16: Pete Lips Sunday, July 17: Bill Spencer
Saturday, July 23: Stu Reynolds Sunday, July 24: Kenny Stahl
Saturday, July 30: Pete Lips Sunday, July 31: Gary Meek with Eddie Mendenhall, Dan Robbins, Kim Edmundson
Saturday, August 6: Stu Reynolds Sunday, August 7: Bill Spencer
Saturday, August 13: Roger Eddy Sunday, August 14: Kenny Stahl
Saturday, August 20: Stu Reynolds Sunday, August 21: Gary Meek with Eddie Mendenhall, Dan Robbins, Kim Edmundson
Saturday, August 27: Pete Lips Sunday, August 28: Bill Spencer
Saturday, Sept. 3: Monterey Jazz Festival student musicians Sunday, Sept. 4: Monterey Bay Jazz Orchestra