Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Whale watching in the Strait of Juan de Fuca Sept 19

Sept 19.....With the weather changing and rainy days becoming more common, and sunny days becoming very few, decisions have to be made about how to spend the great days. Today was absolutely beautiful, and it would have been a great day to put a lot of miles down on the bike. But....there are things to see here that we may never get to see again. I have decided that the good days will be days to enjoy the local attractions, of which there are many here, and the cloudy, rainy, cool, days will be days to ride. I have ridden two days in a row now, and my legs feel like I've been working a desk job. They are really broken down, after basically three weeks of bed rest. A day to take a whale watching tour in the sun and flat seas, as well as rest rebuilding legs was the ONLY correct decision. I guess that wasn't so hard after all.
It was in the 70's with beautiful sun, and Pam used the Internet to book a whale trip. It was the only day that spots were available because it was Thursday, and the weekend is the busy time now. The luck we have had on this trip with things like that has been amazing. We Jeeped it to Port Townsend for a ten AM departure, and parked  at a beautiful marina. We boarded the Glacier Spirit, which seated about thirty people. We shared a table inside with a couple from Denmark, and alternately spent time inside and outside on the deck. The boat traveled quickly, creating a pretty strong wind, and it got damn cold. Even in the sun, that North Pacific water is just really cold, and so is the wind. We headed north to the San Juan Islands, which is where Pam and I wanted to visit on foot, but my infirmity prevented that from happening. Victoria, Canada was visible on our left, Totally snow covered Mt Baker was visible on the right, and  14,400 foot Mt Ranier was visible 90 miles to the southeast. That's how clear it was. 
On the way north, in pursuit of resident orca whales ( like Shamu), the captain and his spotters picked out two humpback whales. These are not something that they see every time out, so we spent some time searching them out and watching them break the surface of the water. There are laws regarding how close a boat can get to a whale, so we watched from an appropriate distance. Everyone was on the same side of the boat of course, and I could feel the list of the boat, but I guess it's built for that. After fifteen minutes or so, we departed to find the orcas. When we finally caught up with them, we completed a rare double in whale watching. Our guide said that they only saw humpbacks and orcas on the same trip about a dozen times this year. Now, back to the orcas. There were about a dozen, spread out along the shoreline, and they were jumping out of the water and rolling in the air, just like on National Geographic. We could not get too close, but there were some kayaks out there that probably could have reached out and touched them as they went by. There was also a research boat out there that was very close. A few other tour boats out of Canada were also in the area. It was very difficult to get a picture because they were spread out and far enough away that you had to zoom in, so we spent our time just watching, rather than trying to look through a camera lens.   In the end, there were 3 pods of orcas traveling in the same area.  They are beautiful, graceful animals.  A once in a lifetime experience!  We followed them for about half an hour and Pam really seemed to enjoy them, which made me feel good about our decision to take a boat ride. On the way back to port, we took a side trip to see some Stellar Sea Lions. They were very big and didn't move much, so I got some real good pictures of them. 
After the tour, we hung around the pier and enjoyed the weather and the scenery, before driving back to Sequim (pronounced Squim). We then spent the evening back at the Railroad Bridge State Park watching the salmon heading upstream, and we ate at a 60's Diner called the Highway 101 Diner.

Hanging out before we load up the boat for our whale watching trip.

Heading up to the San Juan Islands

Mt. Baker

Just a bit windy!

Humpback whales

Kayakers out whale watching - the whales came right by them!

This is all we have of the whales - never could catch them in the air!

Stellar Sea Lions - these are the young males hanging out on their island


This was our boat - Glacier Bay
This is the company we went out with - it is family owned, and they are the nicest people.  Definitely recommend this company.

After the cruise, we walked out on the dock - how's this for scenery?!

Ok, one more try at photographing the salmon.

Here's a good picture!

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