Our penultimate day of vacation started out early-ish. Of course, we got out to Starbucks and had some donut holes from our new favorite donut shop in California, the creatively named “Jelly Donut,” where I can’t say I ever saw a jelly donut there… I was a little nervous to be going to the wharf today because it was a weekend, so tourist traffic would be high. Our ultimate goal was to get to our whale watching tour by 3:00 which took off at the wharf, and the website gave instructions to places where you could park inexpensively for $50 a day. Being slightly more tech savvy, I found a spot at a nearby garage for $19 using Spot Hero.
Our parking spot was pretty near one of the cable car turnarounds, and the line was not very long, so I quickly squandered our parking savings on round trip tickets on the cable car. Once we got on the car, rode it for a mile or two, and got off in Chinatown, nobody really cared to go back on the cable car, so I have $35 worth of tickets somewhere if you want them.
We walked for a little while through Chinatown. We only stopped at a Chinese bakery for some cookies and buns, which weren’t fantastic by western standards, though I’m sure they were great by Chinese standards. I thought I had heard at one point how differently the Chinese view desserts, including things like vegetables in theirs. Still, it was interesting to walk through that area. We ordered a quick Lyft ride back to the wharf from the north end of Chinatown, which turned out to be somewhat silly since we were only about a mile away, but we did get to meet our one legged Lyft driver who was friendly enough and got us there safely.
After a shore lunch, we headed down to Pier 39 towards San Francisco Whale Tours where our afternoon adventure would begin. We got there around 2:15, and people were already starting to line up to get the best seats. Since we didn’t have anywhere better to be, we lined up as well. By 3:00, our guide, “Whale Girl” and first mate, Tastee Jayke lead us to the “Kitty Kat,” our whale watching vessel.
As we were pulling out of the dock area, we saw a boat with a strange payload. Jenny had read about it earlier in the day. A local group was doing a minor demonstration against our beloved president (cough) and were flying a hot air balloon inspired by the one flown in London a few weeks ago. We were amused.
The trip out was chilly and rough, since we were heading directly into the wind. But the views were spectacular! Mireille tolerated about 30 minutes of the boat ride before she decided she was going to take a nap, which she did for the remainder of the trip. Too bad, too, because it wasn’t long after that when Whale Girl spotted our first whale, a humpback. Before long the boat had spotted as many as 6 different humpbacks in various proximities to the boat, and it was amazing! We found that the way to spot them was to look for the spouts of water they blew out when they crested the water. Once you saw that, you almost always saw them breach the surface in one way or the other. Broadside was impressive because you could see just how humungous these things were, but my favorite was when they did “lunch meat,” (I think it’s actually lunch feeds, but whatever), which is where they would swim straight up, gathering in all of the anchovies on their way up, and breach the surface vertically, head first, and would come out of the water showing the top third of their body. Very impressive!!! I believe Whale Girl said at one point that humpbacks can get as large as 80,000 pounds, or 40 tons!
My pictures weren’t great, but Whale Girl had a better camera and frequently posts her pictures. I don’t know for sure if she posted pictures from our trip, but these look just like what we were watching: Whale Girl’s Website.
After about an hour watching the whales, our captain turned us around and headed back to the pier. The ride back was much warmer since we the wind was at our backs. We disembarked the boat, got in our car, and headed back across the bridge under which we had recently floated, towards Tiburon where we would eat dinner at a Mexican restaurant. After that, back to the hotel for the typical evening activities, more swimming while Jenny packed us for our return trip tomorrow.