I haven’t been whale watching since I was a kid. It seems counter-intuitive, seeing as how I live right along the path of the gray while migration, and I have a marine biology background, but I guess it’s one of those things I keep meaning to do but never get around to. Just like people who live in Las Vegas never go to the strip, or those in LA stay away from Universal Studios, you tend to avoid the touristy stuff in the area in which you live.
So when a friend of mine asked if anyone was interested in joining her family on a whale watching trip on Monday, I said, “Oh! We totally need to do that!” The kids were excited, I was excited, we were good to go.
It was a gorgeous day in San Diego, albeit choppy as heck on the water. While we boated out of the harbor, a volunteer naturalist from the Birch Aquarium told us all about the annual gray whale migration.
We lucked out. A mere twenty minutes into rolling around on the 10 foot swells, we saw a spout. Then, two spouts. We followed the pair for a good 15 minutes, the boat miraculously staying level despite the entire payload crowding onto the port side with their cameras out and ready. And when the whales were sure we were ready for their closeup, they obliged with a hello. And not just any hello, but full-on breeches:
And, before he descended back below the surface, a little wave goodbye to the delighted boat:
My kids were interested for about half an hour, but going on the advice of the captain as he surveyed the conditions out on the open water, I had given them Dramamine, so by 45 minutes in they were yawning and trying to sleep on the benches. So I watched the rest of the nature show by myself, with a sleeping head on my lap. Even after leaving the whales behind, there was plenty to see.
The boat LIES. Those are sea lions. (Thanks, R.)
We saw the yacht America, a replica of the original yacht that the America’s Cup is named for:
And the USS Midway, slightly larger, heavier, and more imposing than its lithe sibling racing out on the waves. Retired from service, it floats permanently at dock, continuing its service as a maritime museum.
It’s amazing how interesting your everyday world is, when you take the time to actually look.
The kids woke up, groggy and ready to depart, right as we pulled up to the dock. I’ll take groggy over seasick any day. As we made our way off the boat and back to terra firma, one last fascinating treasure, nestled on the doorway of a harborside ticket booth:
A miniature Banksy. What wonders there are, hiding right in plain sight, and we so often float about on cruise control missing most of it.