Monday, August 01, 2005

Summer Vacation 2005
Part III: Thar She Blows... I Think

After doing our "Rudest Tourist" impression at a local pub by insisting we get served as quickly as possible and shovelling some of the best food we've ever almost tasted down our throats, it was back to the boat to see if we could secure a good seat before the rest of the passengers returned. The weather had brightened up a bit, so we decided to risk sitting on the observation deck at the top, the spot everyone would be flocking to once we got to the whales anyway.

As we sat there, waiting for everyone else to board, the pride we felt at having staked out such an envious claim was only slightly marred but the realization we were with, without a doubt, the worst whale watching outfit in the harbor. Everywhere we turned there were beautiful boats filling up with people positively giddy with excitement. Some were decked out in bright orange jumpers, piling into an ultra-fast zodiac, while others took their places and sipped beverages on more spacious yachts with enormous viewing decks and energetic tour guides fanning the flames of anticipation.

Our boat had more an air of, "Crap. Here we go again." It was a mood that only soured further when the captain annouced where the whales had been spotted... near Bellingham. Essentially, this meant, in order to stay within the time constraints of the tour, we might make it to the whales and, if we did, we'd have only a couple minutes to see them before being forced to return.


To prevent you from feeling as miserable as we did, I'll cut to the chase now... It was absolutely freezing on that upper deck and the time just dragged by. When we finally arrived at the whales, it was obvious that all the other tour boats had been there for quite some time. We, on the other hand, had to turn around almost immediately to head back. We never got closer than about 500 feet to the whales, which was a far cry from the 5 foot proximity of last year. I tried to take photos, but quickly gave up in frustration as all I could get were blurry little black dots on the water. This is the best of the batch, and was only possible thanks to a 10x zoom:

During the remaining 4 hours of the cruise (2 hours back to Friday Harbor, then 2 more back to Bellingham), fate deciced to add injury to insult... We couldn't take the cold any longer on the upper deck and went below to find somewhere warmer. As we did, my girlfriend slipped on a worn spot on one of the stairs and came crashing down into the main cabin, badly spraining her ankle in the process. It was then that the captain discovered his First Aid kit consisted of about 3 Band-Aids, a pair of tweezers, and a roll of tape.

Needless to say, the rest of the way back to Bellingham was grueling, many of our plans for the rest of our holiday were dashed, and our money for the whale watching tour was fully refunded.

Now, whenever I have a brilliant idea that my girlfriend doesn't like, all she has to do is look me in the eye and say one word.

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