Thursday, March 17, 2016

Whale Watching from Dana Harbour

It’s hard to believe that our great adventure is coming to an end.  21 days we have been away, the last time that happened was 1997 and all the kids were with us.  Since then Jim and I have been on many a trip where half way through I would get hit with the homesick bug and want to head back and they were short trips.  Neither of the 2 of us were sure how this was going to work out.  But I have to say very successfully.  Having the internet and phone packages made it so easy to keep in touch with everyone at home.  Not worrying about parents and babysitters definitely eased the stress and knowing my kids were taking care of my cats and sending me catchats every day helped.  Amazing how knowing the weather was good at home also made me more relaxed, once again I didn’t have to worry about kids driving up and down the highway.

Hawaii was a true holiday and so amazing, we were pretty busy and our off days lying on the beach were wonderful.  Thank you to Doug and Lindsey for joining us and bringing a touch of home to Palm Springs.  Felt like we were enjoying a week at the cottage with lots of laughter.  

We woke up our last morning to the dolphins frolicking (I love that word) in the ocean outside our balcony.  Temperatures were around 65, but with the sun shining and a coffee it was a great way to start the day.  Jim and I then did 3 to 4 hours of work work, so convenient, it did mean having to carry two heavy laptops around but our packing skills are getting much better.  Then off for our 6000 step walk.  One of the big benefits of this trip was getting us both back in the mood to walk, we actually did some full fledged hikes this vacation.  Now if I can just get Jim to keep doing it, without a golf ball.  Sunny and warm temperatures without icy sidewalks sure do help.  

Next up was our whale watching trip, ½ price Tuesdays, so only 22.50 each (double bonus).  Dana Harbour has a large commercial fishing fleet.  Ferries over to Catalina Island, whale watching and lots of fishing.  As we were waiting for our whale boat to come in, a fishing boat came back and for 30 minutes we got to watch the wonderful skills of a fisherman filleting a gigantic fish (possibly a large halibut).  As the boat pulled in, there was one old pelican waiting for it.  Before long he was joined by a few of his buddies.  They reminded me of my cats begging for treats.  And they were definitely spoiled as the fisherman kept throwing them tidbits.  The seagulls knew better, they were trying but they weren’t getting into a fight with the pelicans.  Lol

Hello Hello, treats please

Yes I'm still waiting

Success, yum  (ick)

Serenading the harbour or the fish ??

 Our cruise left at 4 pm, this time was just added in because of daylight savings time, so we had an extra hour of sunshine.  The boat wasn’t too busy and the water wasn’t too rough and the sun was shining which helped warm up the brisk breeze that was blowing at us.

Along the harbour walls were lots of sea lions – not seals, they have different ears and different flippers so they can climb.  They seem to be able to rest anywhere they can find including moving buoys.  

Nothing better than a boat ride. 
Heading north from the harbour and our resort gave us the opportunity to see the amazing cliffs that have been cut out by the storms and the incredible houses and resorts that have been built on these cliffs.  Can’t imagine living in some of these during a big storm. 

 Wasn’t long before we came upon 3 gray whales averaging 40 to 60 feet.  In October the whales leave Alaska and head down to the Sea of Cortez area off Baja to feed and have their babies.  There they stay until February/March when they head back up to Alaska, a 10 to 15000 mile trip, done every year.

The white marks on the whale’s skin are from barnacles.  Rumour has it that one of the reasons they like to breach is to try and break them off, the other rumour is that they just do it for fun and to showoff.  Usually when they get to Alaska, the colder waters cause the barnacles to fall off and die.  And then the whole process starts over again. 

Nothing more exciting than watching a 40 ton whale decide to frolick :) in the water.  This pod was showing off for all the cameras on the boat, usually they will breach 3 times, but this one just kept going or else they were taking turns.  The Captain could always tell, usually it starts with a blow of their spout, their tail flip and a pause (seems to go on forever) and BOOM, out of the water they burst.

I think this was the scout gull checking to see if we had caught any fish to let his friends know.  The boat had a drone on it so they could film the whales and us.  $$$ trip always ends with the buy the video pitch.


 The coastline so reminded me of the Amalfi coast.  

We came across a pod of about 100 dolphins (which the captain said is a small pod compared to what they usually see), but they were feeding and frolicking so way too quick to get a picture of.  The Captain was very careful to stay far away from the gray whales so he wouldn’t hurt them and they wouldn’t hurt us, even though they now have the reputation as “the friendly whale”.  Dolphins not a worry they are so fast and can zip about so much there is no chance his boat could hit one of them. 

Back to the harbour where it was a calm as can be.   

The harbour has quite a good size mall on the water with everything from clothing, coffee shops, jewelry, restaurants and a Fish Market where Jim and I decided to settle for some fresh fish (cod) and chips eaten on a picnic table.  



All of a sudden those 21 days have flown by, back to the room for a glass of wine and finish up the packing and planning our next adventure. 

 Hawaii was the garden of eden, California is paradise, but even so, my ruby slippers were starting to click as there is no place like home.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

A walk to Dana Harbour - a little jewel on the coast

Dana Point and Capistrano Beach run into each other.  It is 5000 Steps to the Dana Point Harbour.  Not only does it have the best fish and chips in the area, you can also go whale watching and take a boat to Catalina Island.  The history of Dana Point and it's huge harbour is quite interesting.  Click here to find out how it was named.  Richard Henry Dana Jr named it the "only romantic spot on the coast".  And it is beautiful.

Paddle boarders, boats and surfers all share the harbour.  I always thought that paddleboarders were yoga type relaxing exercises, not in Dana Harbour, they were racing through the harbour.

You think that the rain is dangerous to these houses on the cliffs, but the drought of the last 4 years has done just as much damage as the foliage which holds the cliff together is drying up which then means the cliff has nothing to hold it together.

This coast had the best surfs in the world until the 1960's when the harbour was built.  It also was known for the most dangerous waves along the California coast.

Our timeshare is one of those white buildings on the coast.  You have to close the door to hear the TV as the waves are so loud.

I've been reading up about sunset pictures and it said to make sure to have a focal point in the sunset and/or a silhouette.  I was hoping for a sailboat but this was all I could find.  Not sure if the following works :)  LOL

Another pretty beautiful night.

Jim and I keep talking about how great it would be to buy another house in the south and this is definitely the state we would love to live in.  The people are wonderful, there is the oceans, the mountains, the desert, wine country, everything you could ask for as you escape another Ontario winter :).  It is also close to Hawaii :)  btw we did 15000 steps in less than 3 hours, amazing what you can do when you aren't hitting a little white ball around.  Another thing California has in abundance, golf courses.