Thursday, March 15, 2012

“Tha’r She Blows”

We arrived at the Thousand Trails resort “Pio Pico”. It is just south of Jamul California. It is very close to the US/Mexico border and the US Border Patrol has a strong presence here. Helicopters overhead is a common occurrence, along with vehicle patrols. Our only un-invited guests so far, have been a pack of wild bunnies. They are cute and fun to watch.

We are down in a valley with mountains all around. We do not have any cell service and internet is very slow even with our Wilson Amplifier. The park gives us 30 minutes of reduced speed internet free every 24 hours. I could pay $35 for three weeks but we can live with our slow connection and their 30 minutes a day.

One of the things that we wanted to do while we are here in San Diego area was to take a “Whale Watching” tour. We decided that we would do that yesterday (Wednesday). It is suppose to rain this weekend and cool down next week, so we thought we better go this week. We have never spent much time around the ocean and since it is the migrating season for the Grey Whales, this is a perfect time to go.

There are a couple of company’s that offer trips,   one that offered guaranteed whale sightings, If you did not see whales, they would give you a pass for another trip. The other company offered that if you did not see whales or dolphins that they would also give you another pass.

We chose the first one that guaranteed whales. The cost was not bad, $35 per person for a 3 and half hour tour. The cruise would go out about 9  to 11 miles from the San Diego Bay where the ocean is deeper.

The Grey Whales migrate down from Alaska starting in November  and head towards Baja Mexico where they deliver their young in the warm shallow water. Then in March they start their migration north back to artic waters.

After purchasing our tickets for the afternoon tour, we walked around the harbor and looked at the boats and ships. We were right next to the Maritime Museum where they had several displays. Their crown jewel was the “Star Of India” Launched in 1863 and is the oldest active merchant sailing ship in the world.



We did not go into the museum but we could take pictures from the shore.

Replica of a California Gold Rush Cutter and behind it a B-39 Soviet Attack Sub


We ate a picnic lunch at the Broadway Pier and watched the ships go by. We were also sitting across from the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum.


We boarded our tour ship the “Adventure”. The ship is a basic tour boat with about three levels. We opted to go to the top level to be outside. It was cool but nice and sunny.

San Diego skyline as we exited the bay


As we headed out we passed the U.S.Naval base.


There was a lot of activity going on.



Behind the grey wall there is a US Nuclear Submarine at dry dock. The captain said that this  facility was used for the movie “Hunt For Red October” . Really cool for me because I am a huge Tom Clancy fan. I read that book over and over.


Once we got out 9 to 11 miles from the bay we got our instructions from the captain on what to look for. He told everyone to look for the “Blow”, the whales will blow a water spray 8 to 12 feet into the air just prior to surfacing.

Here is a profile picture of a Grey Whale. They look really prehistoric, notice that there are no dorsal fins.


It is really hard to try to get a picture when you are not sure when or where they are going to surface. None of the whales that we sighted “Breached”, where we could see the whole head, but we got a few “Tail Flukes” and a few Blow Holes along with their  backs.

Tha’r She Blows! That is what we had to yell out along with the position from the boat. Here we had two Greys surface.



With the whitecaps on the water it was hard to tell when they were surfacing, but after a few sightings it got easier.

A Tail Fluke and a Blow!



The Blow Hole looks like a volcano!



It would have been really cool if we could have seen a Breach, but what we saw was pretty special. The pictures do not even come close to what we actually saw.

Brown Pelicans flying in formation


Racing Yacht and crew practicing


Sea Lions sunning on the dock


We really enjoyed the tour and highly recommend it. Some days are better than others and we were lucky to have a very good day. We saw about 7 or 8 Grey wales with a few Calf's and 2 Humpback Wales. Unfortunately I was not quick enough with the camera to get the Humpbacks.

We made it back to the harbor in the late evening and decided to head over to “Old Town” for dinner. Old Town is a historic area with plenty of shops and restaurants. We chose Café Coyote for its patio dining and Mariachi Band.



We had a nice dinner and relaxed from a full day of fun in the sun. There is so much to do here in the San Diego area. We have to remember that we are not on vacation and have a budget to keep to. We will pick and choose what we want to see for sure this trip. Exploring is fun!

Enjoy Your Day!


Mike & Christine Shields said...

We are so jealous you got to go on a whale watching tour! We ran out of time and money before we got to do everything we wanted. At least we know we can return to San Diego whenever we are ready! Enjoy your time there. Maybe we'll see you guys down the road!

Laurie and George said...

Nothing better than seeing a whale! They are so graceful in the water.

Oldtown is nice too! You guys are enjoying one of the nice parts of California.

Mike and Terri said...

Sounds like an awesome day!

John and Carol said...

What an exciting day! You captuired some great pictures and memories to last a life time. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Dan and Tricia said...

Very very cool whale pics! Love them all. I am going to share your picture of the USS Midway with my Dad! Thanks much. Yep - that looks the the restaurant that we went to that had the awesome 'ritas!

Catherine, Jo Beth and Grace said...

You would be surprised at how much cotton those cute little bunnies can eat. The WW tour looked great, we have to put that on our list.