Whale Up

19 Mar

Mendocino Whale Festival – 2012

Being from the midwest, I had never seen a whale before moving to California. The closest I think I ever got was my role as the ship captain in our church production of Jonah. But since heading west I’ve had a handful of opportunities and they are truly amazing and awe-inspiring creatures. My mom is especially captivated by them and has taken me on two whale watching trips during her visits.

Last summer we were just off the Farrallon Islands north of San Francisco and had multiple feeding whales come within 20 feet of our boat.

The guide instructed us to yell out “blow” and then the clock-based location when we spotted one to alert the captain and other passengers that something was close. Everyone would get frantic when there was a sighting and scramble to that side of the boat. Overcome by excitement my mom spotted a whale and yelled out “blow hole” “blow hole” which, although not quite correct, was incredibly cute and hilarious and is now the running joke during any whale experience.

Murder She Wrote

Mendocino is a sleepy little town on the coast about three hours north of San Francisco. They have a yearly whale festival during the gray whale migration and I have always wanted to check it out. The weather was amazing – much clearer and warmer than normal for this time of year. With the sun shinning, we spent a little time wandering into the shops and had an amazing pumpkin empenada and a white chocolate bar with fresh raspberries.

Deliciousness in progress.

One of the main events of the Whale Festival was a chowder cook-off and tasting. Stepping into the town meeting hall decked out in blue, sea-colored decorations I felt like we were in the midwest again. And it felt good. It was a bit chaotic in there and we were hungrily devouring all of the tasty options.

After getting our fill of chowder and treats we walked the path along the coast in hopes of seeing some grays.


Mike loves his binoculars

Mendocino is often engulfed in coastal fog, but that weekend the skies couldn’t have been more clear for whale watching.


Blow hole! Blow hole!

Soaking up the sun was amazing and we saw a few whales passing by.

As we were leaving at the end of the day to head to our hotel, we overheard a docent saying that the most whales pass through in January. Hm, then why is the Whale Fest in March…

Our hotel for the night was in Ft. Bragg which is 15 miles north of Mendocino. Noyo Bay, a small inlet lined with seafood shacks, was just south of our hotel, so we stopped for a beer and to watch the boats come in.

The weather was still so beautiful, hot even, so we moved over to our hotel and enjoyed some snacks and the passing whales from our balcony.

Epic indeed.

It finally started to cool down and get dark so we strolled a mile or so through Fort Bragg for some dinner and beer tasting at the North Coast Brewing Company.

The next morning we drove a few miles north to check out MacKerricher State Park for a future camping trip. Tucked slightly inland and blanketed in blackberries bushes we loved it right away plan to head up there for a weekend this summer.

Lovely weekend. Gorgeous weather. Whale up.


2 Responses to “Whale Up”

  1. Kathy Sonn March 20, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Loved your blog. Sure have missed them. Keep them coming. So glad you had great weather. Mom

  2. Mama March 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Almost like being there with you, beautiful pictures! Blow-hole, blow-hole! xoxo

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