Wednesday, March 25, 2015

San Diego- Oh What a Time! Part 2! (also known as the BEST DAY EVER!)

To see part one, please look here.

San Diego is a magical place.  It really is.  The weather seems to be perfect.  All the time.  The people are friendly.  Walking is easy to do to get places.  It's just an all around great place.

I've mentioned it before about our amazing times in San Diego.  I feel like I'm becoming a spokesperson for their city.  But seriously, if the opportunity presents itself for you to go, please don't pass it up.

On our most recent trip to San Diego, while we did visit the Maritime Museum in the bay, that wasn't enough.  It was Gray Whale migration season and the previous time we were in town Gonzo and I had both said we wanted to go on a Whale watching tour.

So we did.

The Hornblower Whale and Dolphin Watching Adventure was just what we did.

Keep in mind, if your tour does not see a Whale during the outing they will offer you a "Whale Check" for you to come back at another time to try to go out and see one.

I highly encourage you to do this as opposed to going to Sea World.  #1, the Whale watching is cheaper.  #2, you actually get to see them in their natural habitat- which I think is a much happier way to go about seeing wild animals.  No, your kids probably won't be as impressed because they aren't trained to jump out of the water to put on a show, but it's a better alternative to witness a creature in it's natural habitat than crammed in a tank and forced to perform (In my opinion). 

Just keep in mind this tour does go out into open Pacific Ocean waters.  Which I was scared of.  Prior to being out there.  Now I can't wait to go back.  Gonzo has always wanted to go on a cruise- now I can't wait to join him!

Some things to remember.  Bring a jacket.  The Pacific Ocean is a lot more chilly than you think.  Bring Sunscreen.  I forgot.  My face is now paying for it.  Take your motion sickness meds if you need to- the boat will be-a-rockin' at times.  

I want to first start off by saying that I would have been perfectly fine if all we had seen were the sea lions in the bay and the dolphins in the ocean.

That is not all we saw.

I do apologize for the lack of photos I took.  Keep in mind, some of the whales are fast.  Running from the Starboard side to the Port side and back just for photos didn't always work out.  In fact I didn't even get photos of the first two whales that seemed to be playing with the boat within the first 40 minutes of the tour.

2 Minke whales, which according to the captain were rare sightings in the area, kept popping up for us to see, but they were quick!  I have no photos of them.

The second rare treat that even the Captain was amazed with, was the Humpback Whale that put on a fantastic show for us.  We figured out it's pattern of up for a few seconds to breathe; up for a second time to breathe; and then up for a third time to breath and do a tail flip before going back down for 5 minutes.
Let me enhance that for you (we never got close to the Humpback whale for various reasons.  In fact the other ships that were close didn't get as close as this.  We all kept our distance)
Sorry this one doesn't want to be blown up without getting pixelated.  So I've drawn a circle around the tail here:
I know we followed this Humpback for a while, until it started to head for the warmer Mexican waters (which we could not drift into for various legal reasons).

I lost all track of direction while in the Ocean so I have no idea if we were heading west or south or north, but after our meeting with the Humpback we started making our way in some direction and came upon a school of dolphins.  The dolphins were referred to as common dolphins by the Captain of the ship and some had been with us since we had transitioned from the bay into the open waters.  We could see them in the distance from the bow of the boat and I didn't think much of it

video

...until we got closer and the Captain said it was the largest school he had seen this year.  There was at least 500-1,000 dolphins. (in the second video- all of those black spots that keep popping up are dolphins- I promise)

video
  Apologies if the video's aren't working, I'm attempting to get that fixed. Also apologies for the shaky camera...wind was blowing; boat was rocking.  I also want to apologize for the fact that I video'd my finger in that first one...I didn't want to drop my camera and held on wrong.

At one point there was even a sea lion who kept poking his head out of the water as if to either say "don't forget about me!" or "Is there a dolphin show happening?"

On our way back to the bay the Captain was notified of the Gray Whales that were migrating in the area...you know, the ones we originally took the tour to see.  We did not get close enough for any good pictures or video, but there were two adults and a baby gray whale migrating north.  We tried to follow them for a bit, but they can hold their breath for so long our tour was running out of time (but believe me, the Captain followed them for quite a while before finally deciding to bring us back).  

But that's not all!

As we were reentering the bay we found out we had an Atlantic bottle nosed dolphin playing with the front of the boat.
Why an Atlantic Bottled Nosed Dolphin when we were in the Pacific?  Those are the dolphins that the Navy trains in San Diego.  I couldn't help but think that these dolphins must think they are on some sort of awesome vacation every day that they get to hang out in the Pacific ocean. 

It was really one of the most spectacular days I have ever had.  Gonzo and I both got to take "Seeing a whale in real life" off our bucket lists, and I got to take "getting over fear of open ocean water" off mine as well.

After all the excitement it was time to leave.  Leaving San Diego, for us, has become what leaving Austin was like when we lived in Dallas.  We don't want to leave, and we can't wait to come back.

But our brief stop in Temecula, CA made leaving San Diego completely worth it.  They have a Rosa's Cafe and Tortilla Factory.  For those that may not be aware, this place has Tex-Mex food.  Something we haven't had since leaving Texas.  They have liquid gold- otherwise known as queso.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, just freaking order it and try it- you won't be sorry- unless you are lactose intolerant. I've missed it so much we brought two large orders of queso back with us.

Now we are back in our obnoxiously loud apartment, just awaiting the next adventure we can have.  

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