Operation Gratitude Care Package Weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rule 5 Fine Looking Country Girl!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Heartless Conservative Bothers Innocent Whales!

"A Three Hour Tour...."
You  wouldn't think it, but heartless conservatives really do have a place in the Green world.
 Take, for example, whale watching. 
Now face it, any hippie can go bobbing around on the ocean staring at a bunch of wet mammals, but if you don't have a couple of heartless conservatives on hand to run the try-works, all that oil and baleen would go to waste on the off-chance the doughty crew of the good ship Paisely actually managed to catch one. 
In fact, it turns out I had an unexpected genetic predisposition to the job; one of the many things I learned about my father on his passing was that he had actually done a hitch on the whale-chasers out of Reykjavik after his tour in Greenland/Iceland with the Army.

The Try-Works: Solid Employment and Not Much Competition 
for the Jobs, for Some Reason...
So when Deborah Leigh decided we should go whale watching out of Dana Point, I jumped at the chance.  I'd seen some whales, at a distance, a pod of greys surging out of the fog along the California kelp as they moved north, an eerie and impressing sight.  Surely the voyage would have good use for my skills and inclinations.
But as we boarded the catamaran Manute'a, operated by Captain Dave's Dolphin Safari and Whale Watching out of Dana Point, CA (1-949-488-2828), I was obliged to make a quick trip back to the car when I saw the "No Flensing Irons" sign on the gangplank.   I caught up with Deborah again just before sailing, and the big catamaran moved out of the harbor.
As it rode easily over the long swells we moved steadily down the coast under auxiliary power.   We passed a small pod of dolphins and the captain gave us a choice: stop and play with the dolphins, or trust his hunch that he knew where he could find us blue whales busy feeding on the abundant krill.  The passengers were unanimous in their cry for whales.
And the captain delivered.  First one, then another, and then we were in the middle of nine blue whales at various distances, rolling smoothly to the surface to spout and breathe, then sliding back underwater.  You'd watch the long roll of their backs coming up out of the ocean in a curve that went on longer than you thought possible, with the percussive hiss of their venting, and then they'd be gone again.  The nearest group of three included a young juvenile just 30 or so feet long.  For the most part the whales appeared to ignore us, going about their business.
Then we encountered another three-pod, and the captain got excited. He recognized two of the whales, "Spike" and "Bubbles", a pair who demonstrated a previously unknown tendency towards long-term bonding.  The majority of blue whales, to hear the captain tell it, were a parcel of sluts and horndogs who put the hump in humpback, but Spike and Bubbles had been traveling together for several years now.
Then an adolescent traveling with them, some fifty feet long or so, approached Manute'a, and in a display the captain said he'd seen maybe five times in twelve years proceeded to circle and dive under the boat over and over again. 
That was when we learned why they're called "blue" whales.  Something about their skin and the sunlight filtering through the seawater causes them to glow a beautiful cool neon blue, so this huge spectral shape was just flying under us over and over again, surfacing to spout and breathe, and then diving and coming back in.  Deborah thought it was simply being entertained by the sound of the passengers stampeding back and forth across the deck above it as it circled. Once it surfaced so close to Manute'a that the mist from its spout drifted over us.  I could wax eloquent about the irridescence of the sunlight on the scattering water vapor but, being the heartless conservative that I am, what I did instead was shout, "WHALE SNOT!" and wig out all the little kids on board.
Finally, the adolescent decided to move on with his companions, and gave us a perfect Hollywood parting dive. It was a remarkable experience and I almost completely forgot to regret the loss of the chance to run the try-works.  It's a trip worth taking if you can.




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