Sunday, September 4, 2011

Whale Watch

We had a very quick summer.  What with the late-June Last Day of School (because of the many snow days) and the Before Labor Day Start of School, we really only had 8 weeks of summer vacation.  And then once you deduct the week at the beach, the many camps the children attended and various weekend trips, I found that we did not have as much time for the day trips and exploration that I think make summer so much fun.

So I decided to try to cram as much fun as I could into the last one week of summer - or as I decided to call it, "The Week of Fun."  This ended up being a rather inaccurate description of the week.  My Week of Fun coincided with the arrival of the School Supplies Lists and therefore the week's title was actually "The Week of Never Ending School-Preparation Activity."   It's sad but it's true.

We did get in a couple of fun activities before the week had ended, the most exciting was a sea excursion to commune with the whales.

We boarded a whale watching boat in Gloucester, MA.

It was only a few days before Hurricane Irene was set to hit the Massachusetts coast, and as we were leaving, the biologist on board told us that they were having problems locating whales in large numbers. The whales, it seemed, knew to get the heck out of the way of the hurricane.  The boat crew did have a report of a pair of juvenile whales who, like all teenagers, were ignoring the Hurricane warnings and tempting fate.

We didn't care how many whales we saw, we just wanted to see a whale.

Here we are at the beginning of the journey:

All happy and fresh-faced.

Here is a photo of Josie, enjoying the feeling of the cool, sea-breeze in her hair:

We were excited and eager.  We were looking forward to the trip.

And then the boat ride to the whale feeding grounds began to take a little longer than my children's 10 minute attention span.  Excitement and Happiness moved out of the way for bully Boredom and his rotten brother, Hunger.

For the next 60 minutes, Henry, Georgia and Josie complained about either being bored beyond belief or so hungry that they couldn't stand.

I told them to sit.

Here is Georgia, following my instructions:

It must suck being a young child who is hard-pressed to just stand and day dream for awhile.  I know it certainly sucks to be the parent of children who can't stand and day dream for awhile!

I tried to get them to see the beauty of the sea and the cloudless sky, but they were having none of it.

We needed to see one of those reckless, teenage whales and we needed to see him fast!

And like an answer to my parenting prayers.... there it was!  Voila!

The tell-tale spray of water - we had found the whales!

They may have been the only two whales in the Bay of Maine who were stupid enough to be there days before a hurricane, but we loved them nonetheless.

All complaining and hunger pains disappeared as we moved from left to right looking at the whales.

The on-board biologist gave an amazing talk about what we were seeing and what the whales were doing.  She even took pictures of their tail (which acts like a fingerprint) and identified them by name.

For about a little over an hour, we followed the whales as they dove for food and came up for air.  It was really beautiful and worth the long boat ride (which, personally, I had enjoyed anyway).

As we headed back to shore, we sat and enjoyed the late-afternoon sunshine and my kids finally settled into a reflective quiet.

It was a perfect afternoon.

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