National Geographic Venture docked just before dawn broke over historic Mare Island near Vallejo. General Vallejo himself named the island “Isla de la Yegua” (Mare Island) after a raft carrying livestock, including his prized horse, capsized into the bay. The mare was feared lost until she was discovered on the island, having rescued herself. It was the perfect launching point for a day of wine tasting and culinary delights. Our taste buds became the explorers first at Bouchaine winery in beautiful Napa Valley, where they were treated to fine chardonnays and pinot noirs. With palettes awakened, we moved on to the Culinary Institute of America and enjoyed a spectacular lunch in their barrel room. With just enough room for a few more tasty treats, we enjoyed the afternoon at the Markham tasting room, sipping merlots, roses, rich cabernet sauvignons (Napa is famous for these) and crisp sauvignon blancs amidst oak barrels and history. Tired and satisfied we enjoyed a stunning sunset on our way back to the ship to settle in for our final evening together.
National Geographic Venture
Sea lions barking, foghorn blaring, and the quiet breaths of Risso’s dolphins greeted us with the sunrise this morning in Monterey Bay. After learning about the natural history of the area yesterday, we headed towards Sand City to help with a local conservation project; Return of the Natives Restoration Project is involved with restoring native dune plants to the sand dunes found along the coastline. After placing bull, giant, and feather boa kelp around the newly planted beach pea, toadflax, and pacific silverweed, we headed back to National Geographic Venture for lunch and a presentation from local guest speakers on their research with MBARI and the ocean sunfish ( mola mola ). Lifting anchor and turning north, guests enjoyed views of north pacific humpback whales and a beautiful sunset on the Pacific Ocean.