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Report 1899: San Diego or Bust

By j3dnight from Maryland, Winter 2011

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Page 7 of 8: Day 4 - Whale Watching

photo by Jeannette

Corona on the boat before the camera died

My heavens this is never like me in the sleep department what are they putting in that San Diego air? Well I'll be nice and chipper for the day’s events. I plan on walking down to the ships, tour Midway then go on a cruise to see whales, that's the plan.

It is incredibly gorgeous out, I make my way to the ticket booth for the whale boat and got a 1:30 time slot, okay I'll go to this outdoor restaurant/café on the water Trish and I saw and get a Corona and suck up some of this sunshine then go tour Midway. The sun is too good to me because I don't get up. I have their fried fish special with French fries, which is actually very, very good.

Okay the sun says, “Sit till it's time for the whale boat,” so that's what I do. Oh and I call home, rub it in to my sisters saying, "Guess what I'm doing right now? Guess what I'm wearing? Guess what degrees I'm feeling?” As you can imagine they curse my good name especially since Baltimore is receiving the coldest temps to date for this winter.

I've got to tell you something I think is really special about San Diego people or is it California people? I don't know since I've only been to this one place. They have hearts of gold when it comes to volunteering. There are assorted people who volunteer at the hostel to help travelers and now I find there are whale expert volunteers. Have a nice chat with one, sweet, sweet lady, who tells me all the volunteers wear yellow jackets and would help us out with any questions or information regarding the whales. I tell her I went to Boston and went on a whale cruise and didn't see any. She says, “I think you are going to see more than one today!” There's been very good sightings.

Elated I board the boat and get a table at the top. I see people walking by with Corona's. Yes my eyes are not tricking me; they have Corona with limes on the boat. I head to the bar and get one and take it back to my table. It is like the Corona commercial you see on TV, blue sky, sunshine and the bottle. The table sort of next to me are having their Coronas too, so I hold up mine and we do a little cheers salute.

The whales we are hoping to see are gray whales. They live in the Arctic till their food sources freeze over. Once that happens they migrate to the warm waters of Mexico, have some babies, fatten them up for the long trek back to the Arctic. The captain explains to us that sometimes the mom can't wait till they are in Mexico so once in a while they get a San Diego whale baby.

What's even more exciting is that there have been sightings of new babies and we are all big-eyed waiting for that blessed event. Pulling out to sea the view of San Diego is pretty incredible and we see quite a bit of seals hanging out on this one particular structure. I take a few photos so I remember where I was on the boat and what it looked like and the battery light starts flashing. No way! Please tell me my eyes are deceiving me? No the eyes are telling the truth; the one and only battery I have taken on this trip is going dead! Are you kidding me? I'm going to see whales all natural and possibly babies and I'll have not one photo of it? Are we going to having it like that? Yes we will Jeannette, no whale photos for you today. I stew a few minutes about this then make my peace. Okay you have sunshine, blue sky and beautiful water and eyes to see a whale, you can't have everything Jeannette, so I don't fret any longer and decide to just enjoy. The pictures will be in my mind.

We're to yell to the captain if we see a whale blow, he teaches us how, "Tharrrr she blowssss!" This is going to be like a four-hour journey so we travel out to sea a good bit before the first shout of "Thar she blows!" rings out and I'm saying to the people next to me, "Do you see it - for the love of God somebody show me where she blows because I'm not seeing it," and I didn't ... until a few more "Thar she blows" this time I dash right across that boat and squeeze my way to the rail and I do see "Thar she blows!" It blows me away! Is that not magic?

I get to see lots more blowing than that flip and the best, best, best sight of all was when I am back at my table and there are two-whales, on my side and this bad boy jumps way up in the air in all its glory not once, but twice! Our boat beams with happiness, cheers and clapping. What a sight! I don't have a photo of course but I will never forget the picture in my mind. Never! Now we are seeing a good amount of whales nearer and nearer to Mexico and I don't know if we are truly allowed but the captain says we are going to go into Mexico's water because it is getting quite active there. We see small blows which we think are from a baby but we cannot make a visual on this ... oh well, keep it safe and hidden.

Somehow I get to talking to the people next to me and there is this older woman, retired, sweet as sugar pie and she wears a hat and so she kind of reminds me of Katherine Hepburn in that movie "On Golden Pond." She smiles like my friend Yvonne in Australia who's going to Venice soon for her 76th birthday, I believe, and who just outsmarted Yasi. This lady makes me miss Yvonne and I get to telling her about traveling and us ladies who travel together from all over the world and she is thrilled with the idea and loves to travel herself. Her husband died she says and doesn't get to travel as much anymore. So I told her, “You can surely come with us anytime you would like.” She tells me she owns a house in Portugal also but doesn't get there much these days either. She has some relatives in the UK who go to it for summer holidays. We decide we must keep in touch and so she goes and gets paper and we exchange emails.

Now some of the people who are visiting her are from Virginia and Washington DC area and we saying to each other is this San Diego weather not a gift or what? She says she lives down by the water near Seaport Village and has great views of the harbor. Man you are lucky I tell her, you've got to love waking up to that each morning. She does...

We've been in Mexico enough - the captain says so - it's time to turn the boat around and head back to San Diego. I kind of don't want this boat ride to end. It was truly beautiful and the whales ... just amazing. I'm so glad I bought this ticket and took the ride . I lose track of my new friend but we have each other's information. Pulling up to the docks I get my sticker, "I saw a whale." I'm saving that.

I start walking along the harbor until I get down to the Market Street section, cross over those big intersections, make it to a corner and I hear, "Well look who it is!" It's my new friend and her family who came to visit, so we all walk together down Market street and she stops and shows me where she lives and my heavens what a beautiful place she has. It's gated and multiple terraces and no doubt incredible views. We say our goodbyes and I head to the hostel.

I have lots of food to eat at the hostel that must be eaten tonight because I am leaving the next day. I've got fruit, pizza, dips and leftover TGIF appetizers too, so I decide no dinner out maybe a drink later and head to the kitchen to whip up my goodies.

There's another volunteer in the kitchen, he tells me his name and that he is having movie night tonight at the hostel and popcorn and would I like to join them. I explain I'm not sure yet but I did already see the movie "The Terminator." He's a very nice guy and again hats off to San Diego and their volunteers. I know I have too much food and tell the volunteer how about eating some of this pizza with me? I'm going to top it with some things would you like to try it, sure he says.

So we are chit chatting and cooking with nice music in the kitchen (love that about the kitchen); it's a real upbeat place there. So in walks a Buddhist monk, yep all in orange, a little rope belt tied and kind of like flip flops with an orange cap on and I'm like oh wow, would you look at that and am instantly curious, very curious. I scoot my way near him and decide to speak.

I say, "Hi" and smile, "How are you doing?"

He's a low-talker but I think he says, "Good."

I then go on "how do you like San Diego? What did you do today?" and that's how it started.

We talk and I share my day with him (well actually my whole San Diego stay) and we hit it off like two peas in a pod, sweet, sweet gentle man. We talk about travel and that I want to go to Thailand one day and he explains how cheap things will be for me and tells me what temples I should see while I'm there and then he decides to get on the Internet and show me photos of them. The volunteer is intrigued too.

Now I've finished eating and chatting and decide I'm going next door to Wet Willies and have a Corona and plus the doorman might be there so I'll say my goodbyes to him if he is around. I tell Panya and the volunteer goodbye and we all three exchange emails and I take some photos. Panya will be coming to Washington DC sometime in the near future so we decide we will meet again in DC. He says "Jeannette, why u go?" Bless him he didn't want me to leave the kitchen and I explain I'm leaving the next day Panya to go back home and I swear his little face looked sad. I think we both got a kick out of each other.

So I go next door to Wet Willies and get a Corona and head outside to my usual pub table. It's dead inside and no door man but the air is clean and with a jacket on very comfortable. I just breathe in the air of my last San Diego night. A short time later along come the French boys from the hostel and we speak a bit and I call my friend Kelly. "Kelly, you won't believe who I just met." "Who?" she's asking.

I say, "A monk!"


"Yes, a monk. Kell he was wearing orange and we're going to meet him in DC. Yes you will be going too and you'll like him. He's real sweet and gentle."

"Wait, wait, wait," she says, "You met a monk and became friends with him?" she screams.

"Yes Kel I did. He is staying in the hostel, there are a few of them but I just made friends with one. I just left him in the kitchen to go have a Corona for my last night and he didn't want me to leave. God Bless him Kelly" "What is with you? Really, what is it? What do you do to people?" she asks.

Now this goes into not a fight but this thing I always have with Kelly when we are out and about at home or traveling, she tells people about it all the time. She doesn't understand why all these people come up to me. She says, "They act like they are in a trance and are just drawn to you. No one looks at me or talks to me and I'm sitting right across from you and you look like ****! I took time to fix my hair and cosmetics and you did nothing and look like crap and they come to you, in a trance!" She's always smacking her hands on the table saying, "I don't get it!" So of course she doesn't get it this night either. Though she does tell me, "You know what Jeannette, whatever that thing is in you, bottle it and lets sell it and get rich okay?"

I said, "Listen Kelly, it's not about looks, it's about your energy, people get your energy. It's just the way it is. You are timid and cautious and people get that from you."

A guy in Greece told her once, "You have a pretty face but look like the executioner. Why do you do that thing with your face?" I thought she would hit him but instead she said thank you, thank you for telling me and smiled at him big because she had finally figured out what it was and it had been bothering her for a long time and she told him, "You don't know what it's like to travel with this woman and what I have to go thru being ignored and this witch here with her spells..."

So he said, "Practice smiling," and so she does at times and I have to say, she's come a long way and I tell her too, "I'm real proud of you Kelly you have come a long way. "

She still accuses me of being a witch and it's not right to be taking monks ... bye Kelly I say.

I say goodbye to the French guys and head in the hostel to pack my bags and get ready for departure the next day.

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