Tentacles Invade Monterey Bay Aquariuim

Friday April 25, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 18 Comments

"tentacles" "Monterey Bay Aquarium"

Tentacles invade Monterey Bay Aquarium

Are you an extravert or an introvert? If you are an introvert, perhaps you’ll come back as an octopus, cuttlefish or squid in your next life. These creatures of the deep sea are known to be camera shy and often seek to blend in with their environment. Staff at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have been working over three years to bring these cephalopods to life in an exhibit called Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes. I was on hand for the unveiling of the Tentacles exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Education through entertainment

The staff, docents and volunteers working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are masters at educating both young and old through highly interactive marine-focused exhibits. My parents are fortunate to live in the Monterey area and were kind enough to purchase family memberships to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for our entire family when our kids were growing up. We visited this world famous aquarium every time we paid a visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. From the Splash Zone, penguins and sea otters to the giant Pacific octopus and Jellies Experience exhibits, the Monterey Bay Aquarium folks educate through entertainment with hands on learning, mixed with plenty of enthusiasm. Where else can you find a waiting list of volunteer divers ready and willing to clean the inside of a 28 foot tall, glass-enclosed kelp forest?



"Flapjack octopus"

Flapjack Octopus on display at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Nocturnal animals at the aquarium

While I am not a diver, I’m happy to snorkel in warm waters and observe brightly colored fish and sea turtles swimming in the open ocean. I have yet to see an octopus, squid, cuttlefish or chambered nautilus during my snorkeling adventures and that is fine by me.

These cephalopods hang out in the deep sea, away from snorkelers such as myself. Sometimes divers in the Monterey canyon are rewarded with sightings of these sea creatures, but more often than not they avoid contact with man.

The Tentacles exhibit gives visitors to the aquarium a unique and up close look at these deep sea animals. While I love watching the giant Pacific octopus ripple its amazing arms (they don’t have tentacles), it’s the Flapjack Octopus that charmed me. Its slow up and down willowy dance movements reminded me of a lava lamp from the 1970’s, complete with soft red mood lighting.

Fun fact: octopuses and most cephalopods are actually color blind – quite surprising considering they are so adept at changing colors.

octopus, sea anemone

Octopus and pink sea anemone on display at Tentacles exhibit, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Pretty in pink octopus and sea anenome

Contrary to Captain Nemo’s observations in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, giant octopuses do not attack ships and submarines, instead, these clever creatures capture our imagination.

“This is a great opportunity for people to meet incredible animals and explore ways to protect them for their future,” said Jaci Tomulonis, lead exhibit developer on the team that created Tentacles.

Insider Tip

If you know when you plan to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium avoid the lines, purchase your tickets online.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow Monterey Bay Aquarium @Montereyaq on Twitter.


If You Go:
Monterey Bay Aquarium (831) 648-4800

Article, video and photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Monterey Bay Aquarium. All opinions are my own.

Nancy Brown on Pinterest

Wednesday April 23, 2014 at 2:02 PM | 1 Comment

"Pinterest Nancy Diane Brown"

Horses let out to pasture photo via horseback riding Pinterest page

Are you on Pinterest? As I specialize in luxury and equine travel, it makes sense that my Pinterest boards are heavy on horse and travel imagery.

I have 17 boards featuring beautiful photography ranging from bucket list travel destinations to exploring my home state of California, horseback riding and Western Wear among others.

Favorite Pinterest boards

It’s true that a picture says a thousand words. What are your favorite Pinterest boards? Do you feature your own photography or the works of other photographers?

What’s this code? I’m verifying my website on Pinterest. Happy pinning!

Follow Nancy Brown on Pinterest


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Cancun Wine & Food Fest Celebrates Mexico

Friday April 18, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 6 Comments

"wine & food festival" cancun, riviera mayaAs a food and wine lover from Northern California, I’ve eaten and drank my way through Napa, Sonoma, Monterey, Livermore and Temecula Valley wine country. I’ve discovered the culinary delights of Bellingham, Washington and noshed my way through Oregon wine country. When I was asked to attend the Cancun Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival 2014 I willingly joined in to see Mexico’s take on culinary cuisine. What I’m about to share with fellow foodies may surprise you.

California wine country

Living less than an hour from California wine country has its advantages. There is never a lack of things to do in Napa, California. However, there is a downside to this convenience – I call it “California palate fatigue.” My taste buds have become accustomed to Northern California wines and, to be honest, that’s how I decide if I like a particular wine. This is not a fair way to taste wine. In fact, this approach to wine tasting is limiting my horizons rather than expanding them. I needed the Wine & Food Festival Cancun – Riviera Maya to broaden my horizons.

La Cetto, "Guadalupe valley"

Wine from North Mexico’s Baja Guadalupe Valley

Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley

When I checked into my hotel room at the all-suite Secrets the Vine Cancun, I was not surprised to see a bottle of wine waiting for me. Upon closer examination I saw that the wine was produced in North Mexico’s Baja Guadalupe Valley. Grapes are grown in Baja California? Why, yes, is the answer to that question and they are producing mighty tasty wines, thank you very much!

I tasted quite a few Mexican wines in the Gourmet Tasting Village during the annual Wine & Food Festival held at the Moon Palace Arena. In addition to wine & spirits tastings and celebrity dinners taking place during Cancun Wine & Food Fest, the Gourmet Tasting Village offers guests a chance to sample small plates from a wide array of Cancun and Riviera Maya’s top Mexican restaurants.

Chef Daniel Boulud, Cancun Wine & Food Fest

Chef Daniel Boulud, Cancun Wine & Food Fest

Cancun Wine & Food Fest celebrity dinners

Like Auction Napa Valley, the Cancun Wine & Food Festival attracts world famous celebrity chefs such as New York’s Daniel Boulud, Mexico’s Guillermo González Beristain, Federico Lopez and Aquiles Chávez, in addition to Canada’s Daniel Vezina and Normand Laprise. The final dinner is a veritable who’s who in the culinary food and wine world, accompanied with excellent food and wine.

Insider Tip

Several hotel’s in Cancun – Riviera Maya partner with the Wine & Food Festival. I stayed at Secrets the Vine Cancun as this all-inclusive, adult only resort has a wine focus and seemed a perfect match for the festival.

cornbread, "Cancun Wine & Food Fest"

Cornbread at Cancun Wine & Food Festival

Festival attendees are able to purchase multi-day tickets to the festival or individual event tickets, depending on availabililty. Check the website for details. For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow Cancun Riviera Maya Wine & Food Fest @crmwinefoodfest on Twitter.

If You Go:

Wine and Food Festival Cancun-Riviera Maya

Article and photos by Food & Wine Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Cancun Riviera Maya Wine & Food Fest. All opinions are my own.