Call Me Ishmael

When Bill and I first began thinking about our summer trip to Vermont, we thought a trip to Montreal — only a couple of hours from Montpelier — would be fun. We discovered, however, that our passports had expired. Well, this led to that which somehow didn’t lead to us sending in our passport applications in enough time to get our passports back before we left.

Oh, oh. New plan. Moules e frites atimage an outdoor cafe in Montreal some other time.

Friday we got a text message from Heather asking if we would be interested in a whale watching tour out of a beach near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Now THAT sounded like some kind of fun.

So Saturday morning we all arose at 4:15 in order to arrive in time for an 8:30 sailing of a whale watching boat. Do you have any idea just how lively and happy 3-year-old and 6-year-old boys are at 4:15 a.m.? Very chipper.

And so we all were after some coffee and a Dunkin’ Donut. Or two.

It was the first such tour for any of us, and we were not disappointed. The tour boat was not large but we had plenty of comfortable space up on the top deck. I am not ashamed to admit that I had some serious concerns about a very busy 3-year-old boy on a four-hour whale tour. My concerns were unnecessary, as both boys were engaged and happy to be part of the whale watching team. For our parts, we hung on very tightly to 3-year-old Micah who — I’m happy to report — did not even come close to going overboard.

We motored for quite some time — long enough to generate concerns that maybe our whale watching would be a bust — before the crew told us that there were dolphins up ahead. I expected perhap a few dolphins to provide meagre entertainment. However, what we got was an amazing dolphin experience featuring somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 dolphins. Seeing dolphins at all is not a given. In fact, the tour guide (a somewhat misleading description since she clearly was an educated biologist) said this was only the third or fourth time this summer that she had seen dolphins at all. She went on to say that the average pod size (pods are the term for groups of dolphins) is 40, and there were literally hundreds. They swam and jumped and surfed in the wake left by the boat. They entertained us for probably 45 minutes before the crew said we would continue on in our search for whales. It was awesome, and had we only seen the dolphins, I would have been content.

However, we saw much more than merely dolphins. We saw two separate humpback whales who, suffice it to say, were nothing short of magnificent. They blew water through their blowholes. They entertained us by swimming a bit and then coming to the surface to make sure we knew they were still there. After a minute or so, we would see them do a deep dive in which their tails would be the last thing we would see go into the water, indicating they were going for a deep dive and we wouldn’t see them for a minute or two until they would come up for air. And they would come up very far away from where they went under. I’m making it sound like a choreographed show like you might see at Sea World, but it was all natural and entirely fascinating and entertaining. We also saw a fin whale and a Minke whale, two varieties I had never heard of. But in my book, the humpbacks were the stars of the show.

The two boys were as fascinated as their parents and grandparents, and couldn’t have been better behaved. They did take time out for a nap…….

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imageAfterwards we went into Portsmouth and had lunch at a place called the Beach Plum, which served a variety of food, including the most amazing lobster rolls I have ever tasted. The lobster came out of the nearby waters, and you could taste the freshness….

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Our day of whale watching is one I won’t soon forget. And I was happy to share it with our family…..

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