I was able to go to conferences every three or four years when I worked at the hospital. The trips were in some way like a retreat and I enjoyed having a few days off at the company’s expense. I always learned something interesting from the lectures, checked out the new equipment and renewed old friendships.
The last trip I went on was to the Western Regional of the Society of Nuclear Medicine held at Monterey, CA. in 1994 and I traveled with Helen Sawyer who was a cohort of mine at Kaiser. We flew from Portland to San Francisco by United Airlines and then from San Francisco to Monterey by Sky West. The Sky West plane reminded me of an oversized guppy. There were two seats on one side of the isle and one seat on the other and the cockpit was separated from the passenger area by a blue flowered chintz curtain.
Monterey is a tourist town of about thirty thousand and it is of course, on Monterey Bay. It was the capital of California from 1777 to 1849 and it has lots of interesting historical sites to visit. Fisherman’s Wharf has numerous restaurants and shops and we lunched on crab cakes and suitable beverages while sitting at a table on the pier. Eating outdoors on a warm day with a great view and a nice sea breeze is something I could get used to. The Defense Language Institute is in Monterey and the troops get to study here for two years but I suspect their next assignment isn’t nearly as rosy.
The Aquarium is less than a mile away and it was a pleasant walk along the bay. This is one of the premier aquariums in North America and for me it was a must see. They have a huge glass, walk around tank that is thirty three feet tall and they have another tank that holds over a million gallons that continually re-circulates water from the bay. Monterey Canyon, which is the deepest underwater canyon off the Pacific Coast of North America, is located just a couple of hours from the aquarium and they are able to collect everything from sun fish to white sharks. Sun fish appear to be just a large head with enough body for the attachment of a couple of fins and a tail. In the ocean, they generally grow to be over 2,000 pounds. Their diet is primarily jelly fish and that probably demonstrates what happens when you eat only desert and no veggies. White Sharks don’t thrive in captivity but the aquarium has been able to keep them for up to six months before returning them to the ocean. They eventually exceed 5,000 pounds and I suspect that they eat whatever they want.
Cannery Row is located between Monterey and the aquarium and it was at one time the location of a large sardine cannery but they eventually they depleted the fishery. John Steinbeck memorialized this area and the era with “Cannery Row” and “Sweet Thursday”. His books didn’t endear him to the locals however, and he ended up moving out of the area. The original locations cited in the story are still there and you can see Doc Ricketts office, Lee Chong’s Grocery and Dora’s Flood’s bawdy house. I felt like I was walking through history. Incidentally, Doc Rickett’s wrote a book called “Between Pacific Tides” that is still quite a usable book.
We had a clear view of the snow capped peaks along the spine of the Cascades and the blues of the larger lakes on our flight back to Portland. At this point of my life, I don’t remember much about the agonies of the day to day but I still enjoy the memories of my adventures.