Wrote this a few days ago, July 9th, 2016. It was a four part message.
Stayed over in Stinson Beach last night, then this morning moved to the public parking area and backed the car into a space right at the beach. Had some excellent Prius brew coffee and a crock pot stew of chipotle sauce with tuna on previously home toasted corn tortillas. Then I headed out walking north on the beach. Hadn't really explored that previously. Took some photos along the way, one of a ocean surge wall to protect the beach property next to a home with PV panels. Two different strategies for climate change. It was overcast but burning off, cool ocean breezes.
As I was contemplating the waves, each new wave sweeping out the old and bringing in a new event, new opportunities, new reality, I noticed a paddle boarder up ahead. Not much happening that time of the morning. Earlier I had seen some boats close to shore, couldn't tell if they were tour boats or fishing boats. There was some bird commotions too. And then I saw a whale's back. The paddle boarder was right near it, and paddling in the direct the whale was heading. Then I saw a clearer sighting, took my phone out and started shooting photos. Some really good views of the whale(s) feeding very close to shore, possibly 100 to 200 yards off shore. The feeding died down, whales gone, and the paddle boarder was moving along in the same direction as I was and then came to shore in front of where she was staying. Her camera battery had died, but I sent her some photos I had taken to her e-mail account. One very excited paddle boarder.
Continued to walk as far as I could north, 2.5 miles, then turned around. I began wondering why I didn't go into the ocean when I saw the whales? They were so close, I could have swam with them. People travel the world and pay enormous fees for such an opportunity. How would that work? Is it too cold? Would it be safe? How far out would the whale need to be for me to go swimming? Could I strip down to my underwear, they are black and look like swim trunks?
Let me know if you want to know the rest of the story.
Whale Story, Part II
Where was I, oh yeah, walking back. Planning, thinking if I see another whale what would be the conditions that would get me into the water. If I was to take off my clothing I would need to weigh them down because it was getting a little windy. I picked up a rock and continued walking carrying the rock.
Well guess what?
Up ahead there were more people on the beach in one place. This was noticeable because the beach was quite empty. They were looking out into the ocean. And again, the tell tale signs of birds. Then, again, spotting of a whale back's. It was feeding time again, but the whale(s) were a bit out, possibly too far out to safely go swimming closer. As I walked towards the people, a humpback came up out of the water filling it's mouth with fish. It smiled, it's head two yards out of the ocean surface. And it was closer, possibly a football field away. The people watched, and I did too. It seemed like things were dying down as I passed the people. They were dispersing. I sat down on the high side of the beach, took my shoes & socks off and removed my hat, sat down. Waited..waited, like coyote waits. Then it happened, a whale, closer, came out of the ocean heading my way. I made my move.
Took off my long sleeve highway-orange shirt, dropped my pants, packed them into my hat along with the rock and went into the ocean. I swam out as far as I could still stand in the water. Waited. Yes, it was cold. Colder than I would have thought, but not the coldest ocean I've experienced. A whale, again looked like a humpback, was slowly going down the shore line feeding. It came about 100 yards away. Nice to see up closer. Of course I was sending it telepathic messages to come see me. It seemed like I was in water that was too shallow for a face to face meeting. The whale(s) came up a few times.
It calmed down again, and to keep from getting too cold I rode a wave to the shore and got out drying myself next to my tiny beach camp site.
Again, whale(s), so I went back into the ocean. Why not, I was still a little wet, and this time the whale looked even closer. So I ran in, yelling to a couple standing there "It's headed this way!"
I went a little further out, still able to stand, on my tippy toes and still breath air. I noticed the whale was breathing too, heading right towards me. I was 50 yards out, and it was another 50 yards. Birds were flying above, feeding on scraps a whale might have missed. It was now perpendicular to me and the beach, rising up out of the ocean, more than usual, crusty mouth of what looked to me like a humpback's head. We said hello, and it was on its way past. A few more feedings, then gone. I rode an excellent wave back to the shore, standing up after the ride in one foot of water. Walked back and dried off. As I left my beach site I remembers to look back and my hat was still in the sand. Further down the beach I couldn't find my sunglasses. So went back to my camp but they were not there. A pair of sunglasses I had found were now lost. Funny, I had just picked up some broken sunglasses off the ground at Heavenly Valley ski resort the day before. Waves of ownership. No worries, I have one more pair of sunglasses that I had found still in the car.
It feels like I have good whale karma. I remember seeing a whale every day while in Hawaii at each of the different islands. It just seems to happen. Like it did today. Maybe someday I will be able to ask a whale if we have met before?
But the story doesn't end there, something else just happened....
Whale Story Part 3
So the other thing that happened later on in that day was after I had taken a nap in the car.
But first I have to explain a little bit more why I got out of the water the last time. You remember, I had been swimming within 50 yards of the whale? Well, at the same time I saw a dorsal fin. Now, I am no Marine Biologist, but I thought to myself that is either another whale or possibly a shark. Well, seeing as there was feeding going on, and again I am not a marine biologist, I thought it would be a good idea to get out of the water.
Now, back to the afternoon event after I had taken a nap in the car. I walk out to the ocean, and right there and then there is a whale with its nose sticking up out of the ocean having just grabbed a mouth full of fish. Ocean water running out of its mouth. More wales were feeding up and down the coast. I tried to get a selfy photo of myself and a whale. You have any idea how difficult that is? Getting a picture of a whale back or a whale coming up out of the ocean is tough enough. I don't know if I was successful, many photos but I can't see off my phone if there are any successful whale selfies. Will let you know...
The next morning I got up early and drove away from Stinson beach, but not before going out to the beach. Deserted except for a person sleeping on the life guard stand. No whales, no boats, no other people.
However, as I drove up, up and up out of the low lying town I noticed something else. Let me know if you are still interested in one more installment of this story.
Whale Story Part 4
As I was saying, I was driving up up and up out of the town of Stinson Beach after having spent a day with whales.
As I drove up, I notice boats heading towards the beach, and more boats, and in the distance even more. Then I noticed the tell tale signs of blow holes spewing water out into the air above the ocean surface. From the high vantage point I was able to see many different areas where whales were coming above the water. And then I saw it, for the first time, a tail. The ocean was so calm that morning not like the day before when it was choppy. I hadn't seen any tails. I didn't see any mouth above the ocean, but lots of black backs. At one point I counted five blow hole events at the same time. Hard to say how many of the majestic mammals where under the surface that day.
There seemed to be a mad rush for the boats of all different sizes to get to see the whales. I don't know how long the whales had been there, and don't know if they have left, but I did. And feel blessed to have been so close, so lucky to have seen this event. That is my whale story.
And then this happened a few day's later in the San Francisco Bay: