Dave wanted to do something special for my birthday and he gave me the choice of going up to Boston for the day and doing a whale watch or going down to NYC and spending the day at the Met. I admit I was tempted to do the day at the Met, but it would have been a shame to waste such a gorgeous day inside.
In order to make the 10am boat, we had to leave home at 7:15. Believe it or not, I was up and out of bed before 5am. Dave thought this was hilarious and kept pointing out how I *can* get up early when sufficiently motivated. Maybe I need to get a job as a whale watcher…
Did I metion how perfect the day was? Not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was probably not more than 80. The water was incredibly still – there was barely any wind.
As soon as we got on the boat, we got snacks to fill our bellies so we wouldn’t get seasick. When we’d finished snacking, we went out onto the deck to enjoy the day. Holy smokes, it was windy! I was wearing a hat to keep the sun off my face and if I didn’t keep my head at the right angle, it was about to blow off. In fact, it did end up blowing off but luckily my tangled mess of hair held onto it so it didn’t blow away.
We stayed out on the deck for the whole ride out, being battered by the wind the whole time, but I didn’t care. I wanted to smell that saltwater and enjoy every minute of it. It took about an hour to get out to the marine sanctuary where the whales hang out. Not being terribly familiar with the sea, I expected that we must be somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, but when I googled it later, it turned out that we’d only gone about as far east as the Cape.
The boat slowed down as we got to the general area where they expected the whales to be. Everyone looked around with anticipation while the tour guide explained what we should look for, which was basically spouts in the horizon, or, if we were lucky, whales leaping out of the water and splashing around.
The first whale we came across was actually lying on it’s back, floating belly up in the water and it’s pectoral fins were up and flapping around. It was hard to tell that’s what it was, so we took her word for it. The boat turned and we couldn’t see it anymore from where we stood, but before long there were whales everywhere!
There were two swimming side by side next to the boat on our side. We could hear them breathing. Then they dove gracefully underwater, barely even rippling the surface. Whales were rising up out of the water with their mouths open. They were blowing bubbles in the water, slapping the water with their tails and leaving slap marks, which kind of look like a big footprint. The tour guide explained that the behaviors were all part of how they would trap and stun the plankton they were going to eat.
We mostly saw humpback whales, but there were a few minke whales, which I couldn’t see from where I was. We also saw a seal that was further away in the distance. Of course there were lots of seagulls too, hanging around to collect whatever the whales may have left behind.
The tour guide was flabbergasted by how many whales we were seeing. She kept shouting with glee when she’d spot another one, and excitedly talk about some feature or other. We stayed in pretty much the same area for a whole hour, and the whales were just doing their thing all around. A couple even breached on the other side of the boat. Sadly, we didn’t see the actual jumps, but when everyone on that side of the boat yelled, we’d turn and see the splash at the end.
After the hour of magical whale-time, we had to turn back. Most everyone retreated inside, away from the wind. After a little while, I went back outside. It’s not every day I get to glide through the water with the wind in my face, so I figured I’d enjoy it while I could.
Once we were back on dry land, we went to Quincy Market and grabbed some lunch, which we ate on a bench near a charmingly talented busker.
Then we headed to the aquarium, which wasn’t the brightest idea considering it was a busy summer day. The place was, not surprisingly, packed with droves of children and their exhausted parents. Fortunately we managed to find spaces to squeeze in so we could gaze into the tanks and look at all the cool fish and aquatic life.
I like the Boston Aquarium. It’s not big and spread out like other places, but instead it has this huge central tank that’s 4 stories tall. You walk around it on a spiral ramp so you’re gradually rising from sand-dwelling creatures up through colorful coral-dwelling creatures and then up to the surface, where turtles and sharks roam. Of course the rays and the turtles and the sharks will swim down to the lower waters too. We even saw one of the eels, which don’t usually come out during daylight.
When we had seen all there was to see at the Aquarium, we got some ice cream and went to sit on the dock for a while. We watched the boats coming in and going out, and observed the various passers-by. Dave was getting pretty tired by then, as he hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. We made one last trip to Quincy Market to get some dessert items to take home with us, and then we left.
All in all, it was a great day trip and a nice way to celebrate my birthday. It also had the happy memories of being there just a few months ago and getting to see Norma and Joe and Elizabeth.
Where will we go next?