Adele’s Skyfall welcomed me into my last full day in San Diego bright and early at 7AM. We got started on our normal morning routine: Chick Fil A (stop #2) for food and Starbucks (specific stop #4… overall coffee stop #6). Then it was off to H&M Landing for some whale watching! My coffee-fiend friend had scouted Groupon a week or two before I went out there and managed to land tickets for $21.
Another day with animals? Sign me up!
We checked in around 9:30AM or so. As we’re walking over to the pier to board the boat, we realize we’re about to walk behind a guy being videotaped. So we stop, do the polite thing, and sidestep the guy filming on the ground so we don’t interrupt the shot. The cameraman lets us know we’re alright to walk in front, as he’s not filming yet. And the guy being filmed stops us altogether to ask if we’re going whale watching. When we say yes, he lights up, tells us he’s the captain of the boat, and that they’re filming a commercial for the whale watching tour. Naturally, we get recruited to be in the video.
The captain begins talking about the whale watching tour when – surprise! – Bethany and I walk right past him, where he stops us and welcomes us to the tour. She’s sporting her Starbucks cup. I’m rocking my bright purple Clemson pullover. Clearly, it’s the best commercial ever made. So much awkward fun!
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it online anywhere. But I did stumble onto the videographer’s information. So as soon as I found out if a copy exists, hopefully I can get it posted online. Stay tuned!
The cruise was really fun. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone going to San Diego. I’m sure it was because it was a weekday morning but there couldn’t have been more than 25 or so of us total. We started out with a good view of the skyline. The Navy and/or Coast Guard had some of their operation on that side of the water too, so we got a chance to watch some jets and helicopters take off.
The captain then parked us up close to these sea lions camped out on some floating platforms. It wasn’t quite as cool as my Pier 39 sea lion experience in San Francisco but you really can’t go wrong being that close to wild animals. A baby sea lion hanging out helped too.
Then it was off to scout some whales! We headed straight off of Point Loma into the open water. The water was amazingly calm, so luckily no one had to deal with any sea sickness. Unfortunately, everything else was calm too – no sign of animals anywhere. We headed back around the point after the captain got word of some whales heading South. And everything came to life!
We drove right into a school of dolphins heading our way. It was amazing seeing the school of them swimming together, straight for us.
In between the animal-less lulls, the captain was trying to keep everyone entertained. So he made mention to get someone to take a picture of whoever you came with. This Asian lady all but jumped at the opportunity to take our picture for us. We politely declined and went about our business. But then an older white lady walked up and offered to take one too. So I went ahead and said sure, since it was obvious all of the older couples were going to keep asking the only younger couple on the boat until a picture was taken.
The only problem was that the Asian lady was still close enough to watch it all go down. As soon as I said yes, she turns to us and jokingly and sarcastically says “Oh, I see how it is. You don’t want me taking your picture but you will let her take one.”
And that’s how I spent the day being hilariously judged as a racist.
Finally, we got to see our first two whales! The captain said it was a mother and her calf on the way to Mexico. I may or may not have made a comment under my breath about how ironic it was that whales leave the US and go to Mexico to have their babies. Definitely not something I’d say. Nope, not at all.
The routine for the whales is to take three or four shallow breaths every minute or two, followed by a deep breath where they stay under for six or seven minutes. The deep breath is the one most people think of, as this is when they flip their tail on their way down.
The lulls in between were intense. Everyone was keeping one eye on their watch and the other scanning the water for when they would come up again. And the captain kept getting better at judging where they would come up.
The dolphins were friendly and bold too. They kept the boat entertained between the whales’ deep dives. They’re like the ocean’s version of gorillas for me – I could watch them do the same thing over and over for hours on end and never get tired of them.
The next time the whales came up, our captain kept getting us closer and closer. You don’t get a feel for how big they actually are until you’re almost looking down on them.
Then… this happened…
When you get pictures of two whales 20 yards or less from the front of your boat to close out your day, I’d say that’s doing pretty good. I can’t say enough for how awesome our captain was to make that happen. On top of that, we were an hour late getting back to the docks because he was enjoying watching these two whales. It was an amazing experience!
The whales waved us goodbye on our way in.
The ride back in was fantastic. Between the gorgeous scenery, soothing rumble of the motor, and good conversation, it was incredibly relaxing. There are worse things to do than sit back and enjoy the outdoors and your company.
The rest of the afternoon was left to catch up on anything we missed out on earlier in the week. We had passed on Sea World but between the zoo, La Jolla, and the whale watching trip, we thought we had the animal market covered. All that was left was to go scope out Laguna Beach and grab some gelato from my friend’s favorite place there.
Looking back, Laguna was a little underwhelming. It took an hour and a half to get there. It was breezy and chilly compared to the rest of the vacation. It reeked of people who made way more money than I did. I didn’t see Lauren Conrad. There was only a tiny stretch of beach. But on the plus side, Gelato Paradiso was super good, so there’s that! I rocked a cup of half cookies & cream and half strawberry & cream. I’m a cream fan, apparently (I’m sure my brother, mother, sister in law, or any number of other friends or family members are lined up, ready with a “That’s what she said” response). And a stop wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Starbucks (#5), which was ridiculous in and of itself. There are two Starbucks in Laguna Beach. A tenth of a mile apart.
You’re drunk, Laguna. You should probably go home.
After that, we headed a little ways up to Newport Beach, drove around looking at fancy things like malls and gas stations. Then pointed south again to call it an early night. The traffic was surprisingly light for it being roughly rush hour traffic outside of the eighth largest city in the US. I got to DJ the satellite radio on the way back too, which made for an interesting soundtrack. 80’s pop to 90’s country to rap? It’s how I roll.
Once we were back in San Diego, we popped in Talledega Nights (as if we were going to do something other than watch a movie), reheated Sunday night’s leftovers, and closed out my last day in “America’s Finest City.”