The last few days = crazy.
On Friday night, I returned from a great white shark expedition at Guadalupe Island with Great White Adventures (after a rough 24.5 hr crossing back to San Diego!), and was invited late by Douglas Seifert to a dinner with Howard & Michelle Hall and Peter Benchley and his wife. Unfortunately, because our crossing was so rough, our vessel returned late and we passed Mr. Benchley in the hallway (leaving) as we approached the restaurant. STILL, it was a pleasure to dine with Howard and Michelle -- even though I had almost nothing to say (indeed, what is there to say??); instead, I focused on muting my knee-jerk reaction, which if left unchecked might have been to gaze upon them with adoration and awe. They were very nice, and I enjoyed Howard's sense of humor very much.
Jimmy, Anna and I spent the night in San Diego, packed hundreds of pounds of gear into my little WRX Wagon (I still can't believe it all fit, although it certainly was no match for the IMAX 3D camera Howard has been using, which weighs 1400 pounds when housed!), and drove up to Oakland in the morning. On the way up, I was handed a speeding ticket for going 80 mph in a 70 mph-zone, which is just stupid. Driving 80 mph on the grapevine might only be dangerous because you would be passed by so many vehicles.
On Sunday, we spent the day with Clark and Virginia Miller at their beautiful home in Fairfax before heading over to Fort Mason for the NCUPS SEA 2004 awards presentation (Jimmy was the featured guest, and I was a contest judge). After the meeting, we had dinner at Chow, one of my favorite restaurants, with Herb Ko. I think Jimmy enjoyed hanging out in the Castro and eating "California" food. He kept exclaiming, "We're not in Florida anymore!" :)
And on Monday, I took them both to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we oohed-and-awed over the cute little female white shark they have in the Outer Bay tank. She is *really* cute, and seeing her was especially cool because we had just been in the water with her 14 and 15-foot sisters down in Mexican waters! We took advantage of our time down in Monterey to have lunch with Berkley White of Backscatter, drinks with Brian Skerry and Mark Conlin (down there on assignment for National Geographic), and dinner with Norbert Wu, whom I had been planning on meeting with for some time now. Quite the list of UW luminaries. Norb is a master at the grill -- I think the meat he cooked up was the best I've ever had. His dog, Max, does that cool trick that every male dog owner wants his dog to do: he will sit with food on his nose until Norb gives him a signal to eat it -- and then he's so fast that you can't see him snap it up.
I enjoyed hosting Jimmy and Anna a lot, and was glad to have the opportunity to show them around after being hosted at their place in Florida so many times. :) [see some photos]