A Travellerspoint blog

La Jolla Cove

A Game of "I Spy" in the Tide Pools

sunny 67 °F

There were two important items on The Kid's agenda for this California trip...1) go to the beach and 2) see tide pools. When I was a kid, we would visit my Grandparents in Concord and every once in a while, we would go to the northern CA beaches in Carmel, Monterrey, and Morro Bay. I remember seeing starfish, crabs, mussels, urchins and other tidal dwellers. I just knew the kid would love seeing what I saw, and again, I was absolutely thrilled with the real-life experiences that reinforce his book learning.

Our friends with whom we were staying suggested a trip to La Jolla Cove for optimal tide pool viewing. The Kid was giddy when we told him we were on our way to the beach. I wondered how enthusiastic he would be when he dipped his toes in the chilly water. My Arizona boy is accustomed to 80+ degree water and his most recent beach experience was in the Caribbean. California is not the Caribbean. I, of course, froze. 72 degrees is my threshold. Anything below that and I need my winter gear. The Kid on the other hand, saw the waves and jumped right in. No hesitation. Even when his teeth were chattering he swore he was not ready to leave, or even get out of the water.
After romping in the surf for a while, we explored the rocks and pools in search of life. We mostly saw little barnacles and other bivalves clinging to the rocks. No Starfish.
The Kid dove in, up to his neck in the frigid ocean, and found a school of minnows.
He climbed the rocks of the cove, in and around a cave, and discovered some species of anemone. That was exciting.
But most thrilling for him was when he saw a little pink crab scurrying along the sand.
When he saw all that there was to see, he returned to the shore to brace himself against the waves. He was joined by some body surfers further out and a playful seal who ventured very near the beachgoers. That was fun.
I watched my boys play and was grateful that The Daddy was such a good sport to endure the cold water with The Kid.
I just got to observe and relax and warm my toes in the sand.
The Kid's tide pool experience was not quite what I remember, but a worthwhile memory all the same.

Posted by TamB 08:51 Archived in USA Tagged beaches ocean california surfing seal crab la_jolla tide_pools Comments (0)

From Quail Watching to Whale Watching

Mission Bay Grey Whale Migration

semi-overcast 65 °F

We left our courting and mating quail pair behind in AZ and headed west to California for the Grey Whale migration. I was very excited about the ominous sounding three hour tour, as anyone who grew up watching Gilligan's Island might be. But, the clouds burned away by the time we boarded the Privateer. My kid had been studying the ocean at school, so he was equally enthused about watching the whales live and in person.
The night before the tour, visions of whales breaching danced in my head. My fantasies may have resembled Life of Pi. I may have had unrealistic expectations.

We arrived in Mission Bay at San Diego Whale Watch in plenty of time to check out the seals and sea lions lounging on the pier,
while we listened to the safety regulations and other instructions; the most important of which was for anyone prone to motion sickness to TAKE A PILL! Having sailed on all types of boats from sail boats to cruise ships, we were unconcerned. We set out and I was surprised that we turned south and followed the coast. I imagined that we would need to venture way out into the open sea far from the shore to see whales. We promptly learned from our tour guide that these whales, on a 10,000-12,000 miles journey, are tired and vulnerable. They stick fairly close to shore for the warm water and the protection against predators.

Roughly 45 minutes into the tour, my Husband asked if I brought any candy or sugar or water. I apologized and felt terrible when I looked at his rather green face. Poor guy. His tummy succumbed to the motion of the waves. He left me and the Kid to go to the back of the boat to lay chum. The boy, still in the realm of fantasy, asked if I heard the humming of a whale song. I said no. He mimicked the sound of the engines and said, "That means we're close!" I couldn't bring myself to burst his bubble so I let him believe the engines were whales humming. Right on cue, the guide announced that there was a trio of whales off the bow at about 2:00. The Kid was validated. "I told you!" he said.

Like clockwork, everyone went to the right hand side of the boat to see the spouts. I panicked briefly, fearing the boat would capsize, but then I figured that if it were a real danger, they would have warned us against such action. The accomodating Captain Rick manuevered the boat so we could watch the whales from all sides. After the first spouts, people generally stuck to their places. I'll admit, seeing the whales spout was thrilling. The young tour guide either really loves his job or is well trained in maximizing his enthusiasm for the tourists as he giddily exclaimed "There's a spout! Oh! Another one! Watch for them to breach...YES! And a fluke! If you guys are having as much fun as I am, then this tour is a success!" he said.
Sadly, my little point-and-click camera was not powerful enough, nor was I fast enough on the trigger to get any good or up close shots of the whales. This was the best I could do. (Wish list alert...Mother's Day is coming up!)

A little while later a mama and a calf joined the trio. We watched them for a good half hour, learning about their taxing journey from their feeding grounds near Alaska to their mating grounds near Mexico and back again. While some of us may have hoped for a high adventure on the high seas, we were informed that this ain't Moby Dick. There are moral obligations to observe when we share the waters with these creatures. This population, we learned, is on the rise. They were recently removed from the endangered species list. The last thing we wanted to do was to distress them and cause them harm, either directly or indirectly.

We stayed near the whales as long as our time allowed then headed back to the bay. We were treated to a group (herd? pod? school?) of about 100 dolphins feeding and playing.
Even if the whales didn't quite measure up to our expectations, the dolphin show made the trip worth it. For me. And my Kid. My Husband, I'm sure, just wanted to get back on solid ground.

The crew members of The Privateer were all courteous, friendly, informative, and accomodating. This trip was well worth it, but next time we'll definitely take some dramamine.

Posted by TamB 13:55 Tagged boats san_diego california dolphins sea_lions whale_watch grey_whale_migration Comments (0)

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