Road Trip #5: Monterey

As members of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we have visited multiple times a year most years. Last year, as we all lived through the lockdowns and the global pandemic, the aquarium remained closed and we were unable to visit one of our favorite destinations.

This trip wasn’t quite back to normal (we had to book tickets for the aquarium ahead of time – actually back in April) and we had an assigned 30 minute window when we could enter. Once inside, a few things were different too, though much of the experience was the same. Outside of the aquarium, our trips normally include at least one night in our favorite hotel (the Hilton Garden Inn) where we love the cooked breakfasts, the sheltered outdoor pool and hot tub and the s’mores by the firepit each evening. We also typically enjoy local restaurants for dinners, visit the Dennis the Menace park and perhaps the beach or boating lake. This time we did a day trip, mainly focused on the aquarium visit, though we did get manage to get some other activities in too.

Lunch and the Aquarium,

We parked on the street alongside the outlet mall just around the corner from the aquarium itself, and stopped for lunch, dining outside in the sunshine, at Archie’s Eatery. A quick lunch, and a pint of local beer, and we were ready for the 12:30 entry time we had for the aquarium. Tickets safely stored in my phone’s Apple wallet app.

We assembled at the queuing system area just above the main doors (the member doors are not in use at the moment), and then, at our allotted time, we walked down the hill into the aquarium and showed our electronic tickets at what is normally the ticket booths before being let in.

Inside, we turned left and started to follow the one way route through the aquarium at the kelp forest exhibit.

From there, the route led around by the giant octopus exhibit and though the aquarium to the aviary and touch pools. The touch pools were open, and not too crowded (apart from the bat ray one). The one way system was only half working though. People were doubling back in places, and some were taking short cuts. The section from the octopus to the aviary, and also the area where the icons jellyfish exhibits are located, as well as the outer sea area were also more crowded than felt comfortable.

Ice Cream and Cars

Took just under two hours for us to walk around the open exhibits (the Baja exhibit is now closed as they are working on a new exhibit for that space), grab a coffee from the cafe and sit outside in the theatre seating area to enjoy it.

Once outside, the kids wanted ice cream, so we made our way down Cannery Row to our favorite location for ice cream: Ghirardelli Chocolate. Sitting outside at the front waiting for our ice cream (a banana split to share), we were lucky enough to see an unofficial mini-parade of cool cars drive by. One of the reasons we love Monterey so much is you can never tell when something like this will happen. It seems there is always something fun going on there.

Surrey Ride

Another of our favorite activities is to rent a four seat surrey and take it for a ride up and down the bike path that stretches from the rental place in the middle out to Lover’s Point in one direction and to Fisherman’s Wharf in the the other.

Surreys are the most unlikely vehicles. They’re heavy, have relatively poor gearing, but are covered and provide a lot of laughs as you cruise slowly down the bike path trying to avoid pedestrians, bicycles and anything else along the way. Not to mention threading them through the narrow metal poles that are dotted along the path to prevent cars getting onto it, but are only just wide enough to allow the surreys through. Clipping a pedal will cost you a $20 repair fee when you get back.

We set off just before 3pm and headed out in the direction of Lover’s Point. Once there, we didn’t stop. In the past we have stopped there for ice cream or coffee, and the rental does include a lock so you can easily do this without risk of the surrey being taken. This time, we turned it around, a fun challenge in its own right since they do not have a great turning circle, an headed back. Passing by the rental place and heading out to the beach parking lot (not quite all the way to the wharf as that is a little too far given the hour rental – you can rent for half a day or a whole day if you want to, but with so little path they’re allowed on, it doesn’t seem worth it).

Charging and Statistics

Although we didn’t really need to charge on the way home for this trip, we did need to stop for dinner and there is a Chinese restaurant we like (Ginger Cafe) and a 350 kW Electrify America charger at the Premium Outlet mall in Gilroy.

We arrived at the mall with 39% state of charge, so we did not get the super high speed from the charger – we started at 150 kW which is not bad, but a long way off the 250 kW we got last week when we connected to one with a much lower state of charge, and it looks like we averaged 113 kW over the ~26 minutes we were charging.

A Take of Two Trips

The trip statistics for the trip down to Monterey and the trip back home were very different, mostly due to traffic. On the way down in the morning we encountered very little traffic and averaged 2.9 mi/kWh at an average speed of 62 mph.

Alameda to Monterey

The return journey, we encountered traffic almost immediately after leaving the Monterey, and again when leaving Gilroy, although there the GPS routed us through San Martin and Morgan Hill downtown to avoid the slow segment on the freeway.

The final stats for the return showed the trip was a little longer (mainly from our small detour leaving Gilroy), over an hour longer in duration with an average speed of just 37 mph and, strangely, a lower average consumption of just 2.8 mi/kWh. Strangely because normally EVs do better with slower speeds; in stop-go traffic in my previous EV I would typically see better efficiency numbers. In the Taycan, it seems that it really has been tuned for faster speeds.

Monterey to Alameda

I should add that in both directions we were in “normal” mode. I have not really tried the “range” mode, and “sport” mode probably isn’t the best choice for road trips (though it is a lot of fun!).

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