in june 2010, our lives got turned upside down in the best possible way: the birth of our awesome kiddo, john. in october 2013, brother charlie charged into our life to change the status quo again. and june 2016 brought us brother ben to round out our trio.

i'm proud to have "mom" at the top of the list of titles on my resume, but i'm also still a hard-working professional. how does a working mom juggle work and family? ride along with me and see if i can figure it out!

Friday, July 13, 2012

travelogue: excursions (icy strait point)

day 4: icy strait point, alaska
icy strait point is a completely fictional town. it is not too far from hoonah, an actual small town, but it is in fact an old cannery that the cruise line purchased to use as a docking station for this particular stop. 

icy strait point! looks like ... a ... cannery.
there's no population at icy strait point. there IS the "world's tallest zip line," but i didn't partake of that. instead, we elected to go whale watching. when i was a kid, my grandparents used to take our family whale watching off of cape cod, so that is something near and dear to my heart. i was really hoping the whales would put on a good show, especially since john was with us for this excursion.

we got on our little whale-watching boat and set out.

john and grammie exploring the boat.

within literally moments (maybe 5 minutes? maybe less?) we saw a whale off near the shore, splashing and playing. he wasn't super close, but we checked him out for a little bit, but the captain (and the passengers!) were anxious to venture further out and see what kind of action was going on, so we moved on pretty quickly.

and we were quickly rewarded for exploring, because not much after THAT we encountered some rare whale behavior: a large humpback whale leaping and breaching! if you've ever seen this before, you know how breathtaking it is to see a 60,000 lb behemoth launch itself out of the water. they're fast, nimble, and agile - which you don't expect for their size. fortunately, my husband managed to snag a pic:
he wasn't QUITE as close as this looks - god bless the telephoto lens
my husband rented for the trip! - but it was still an amazing sight.
now, i can't lie about this one. i did not get to see that whale breaching. john had decided he wanted nothing to do with whales, so i was frustratedly chasing him around the boat, always on the wrong side at the wrong time to see anything. i was feeling pretty left out and annoyed as everyone else ooohed and aaahed, and i will even admit to some resentment as my husband got to snap away and take it all in.

but the whales made it up to me - oh how did they make it up to me. when we finally parted company from our breaching friend, we headed farther out, and soon encountered an even rarer (more rare?) whale behavior: bubble-net feeding. you see, humpback whales are mostly solitary critters. but for some reason, certain populations of whales have groups that have developed this ability to bubble-net feed, where groups up to as many as 20 whales work in concert to lay a net of bubbles and swim up through the middle to catch the trapped fish in their huge mouths.

our captain guessed that the group we saw might have been training to bubble-net feed, as some of the whales seemed to be younger and less adept. but there were eleven of them. at least. they couldn't get a better count. it could have been even more. here's what that looks like:

the one in the middle is the leader - she jumps up higher out of the
water and gives signal commands through her singing.

we watched them do this for probably two hours. they started close enough, and got EVEN closer. in between launching out of the water, we watched them swim and dive and play together. it was so amazing. you see these things on nature tv, but here it was right in front of us.

four blow spouts

five or six of our whale friends
diving all at once
waving goodbye - so amazingly
close to the boat!
even the crew of the boat were dumbfounded at what we were witnessing. several crew members told us this was the most whales and the closest they'd ever seen. and the captain even kept us out for 30 minutes longer than he was supposed to, because he kept saying "we'll just watch them come up one more time," and then "the first mate just persuaded me to watch one more after this!" it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime thing to observe.

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