Due to a huge winter storm slamming into Northern California, our planned trip to Yosemite this past weekend had to be swapped with our Monterey trip planned for the following Saturday. The people at the Monterey Bay Aquarium were nice enough to allow us to switch our reservation. They provide us free tickets every year for our Kyoto and Modesto students to visit their aquarium. This is a high point of every exchange, and we often get a few of the host students along for the ride. Each Kyoto student is paired with a Modesto student for classes, this is not the same as their host student that they stay with.
It was a rainy day when we arrived in Monterey. The drive over from Modesto was beautiful. This time of year the hills sprout green and for a few short months we have emerald hills in the Central Valley and though the passes. The sun and hot weather quickly turn these hill brown for last Spring and Summer.
The Kyoto students were wearing their school uniforms for this trip. They are required to wear them for all trips, but this year they don’t have to wear them at the school. They really like this freedom at school to wear casual clothes so they fit in better, and can display some individuality.
The Kyoto students weren’t the only ones in uniform this day, the penguins had their tuxedos on for our visit to their aquarium.
One of the more unusual critters of the day was a dragon sea horse. It was well camouflaged when swimming among the kelp. Most of the students stopped to look at these interesting creatures.
The big kelp tank is always a popular stop at the aquarium. We were not there during a feeding this time, but it was none the less a spectacular view.
After the aquarium everyone went out back on the platform by the water to take a group picture.
Rob Riter (Kyoto, left) and Brad Cornwell (Modesto) pose for a shot. The other two Kyoto teachers were off with students touring the aquarium.
Two of the Kyoto students made a new friend on the way to the bus on Cannery Row.
Once they were back on the bus it was off to Gilroy for the Factory Outlet Shops. The drive is not far, and takes less than an hour. A group of host students were in a van not far behind the bus. There was a heavy downpour and a wreck on the freeway. The students in the van ended up being stuck in traffic for over two hours, missing the shopping in Gilroy.
The Outlet Stores are a favorite stop for the Kyoto students, as they usually leave with bags full of American fashions to take home to Kyoto. This trip the dollar/yen exchange rate favors the Japanese, so they can buy a lot more stuff with their money.
The rain did break from time to time throughout the day. Several really nice rainbows put on a display for the students while traveling on the bus. You can also see a grove of almond trees in full bloom below the rainbow. Now if we could only break the cycle of rainy days, we would be doing a lot better.