Thursday, as noted at the end of part one, we went whale-watching, on a tour run by Bar Harbor Whale Watching Co. (You may have noticed that they go in for utilitarian names around there. Or sometimes the stores have pun names, like all the "Mainely" ones.)
I'd been whale-watching twice before, both down by Santa Cruz. The first time, we "saw" some alleged whales, which is to say a few tiny waterspouty things way off halfway to the horizon, with maybe twenty minutes between spouts. The second time, we couldn't find any whales, so the boat headed out to a pod of dolphins; that was supposed to be a consolation prize for not seeing whales, but the dolphins were way better, one of the high points of my life.
More generally, every time I find myself out on the water, I love it, and I remind myself to make that more a part of my life, but I never manage to do so. Maybe I'll try and take sailing lessons at some point.
At any rate, this time, I spent most of the trip inside the main cabin, keeping an eye on 5-year-old Tivi, because Annie had gotten food poisoning after dinner the night before, and Sarah (who would otherwise have taken care of Tivi) needed to be up on the upper deck to avoid seasickness. Tivi was miserable in the high wind up top, so I took him inside for most of the trip. Which was fine; the boat stopped when we got to creatures of interest, so we could go outside and look then.
The creatures of interest were two ocean sunfish/Mola mola (which I had seen at Monterey Bay Aquarium, where they look much more impressive; from the boat Thursday, all I could see was the triangular fin), and then, later, a pod of pilot whales. I'd never thought much of pilot whales from pictures; their heads are kind of goofy-shaped, and they're not as big as Real Whales or as cool-looking as dolphins. But it was really nifty to see them in person, especially so many at once; not as cool as dolphins, but still cool. I took bunches of photos and videos, many of which will likely end up online at some point.
The ship people played various nautical songs over the PA system to get us in the right frame of mind. J7y and I sang along for a bit to "Barrett's Privateers"; and even though they didn't play it, "Wave over Wave" was running through my head for much of the day. "It's wave over wave; sea over bow / I'm as happy a man as the sea will allow. . . ."
(For a feminist response to the verse lyrics of "Wave over Wave," see the wife's monologue (scroll down to after the song lyrics). But it's not the verses I love about that song; it's the chorus, and the tune.)
Because we didn't see any big whales, the company gave us ticket vouchers good for a free ticket on a future whale-watching ride, which I thought was pretty cool.
After the trip I headed back to the cabins to play DDR with Chaos and Amy. Then there was a group dinner, which I didn't really participate in; made spaghetti in my cabin, then hung out with the group. Roundsing after dinner—not perfect, but good. After that, hung out on the dock stargazing with Michael and various others. Twice, Michael pointed at a part of the sky, we all turned to look, and ten seconds later there was a shooting star. Perseids, I think, given that their trails pointed back toward Perseus, but given how bad I was at identifying stuff in the night sky, I may've been wrong.
On Friday, I considered walking around Jordan Pond, which various people had done and recommended (especially the renowned popovers at Jordan Pond House), but I opted instead to take a voucher and go on another whale watch.
This time I got to stand right in the front of the bow of the catamaran, with a high cold wind in my face, the whole way. It was glorious. I grinned nearly nonstop.
We paused for a sunfish, then continued on to whale feeding grounds, where we found two humpback whales. We watched them for something like an hour. I took lots and lots of photos and videos, mostly at 12x zoom. (I'm glad I brought that camera along this trip!) And then there was another exhilarating ride back. The exhilaration was somewhat interrupted by a 15- or 20-minute chat about the company I work for (I was wearing a company-branded jacket) with another passenger, a guy who makes documentaries for public television, but that was fine; and when the conversation ended, I faced forward again for the last ten or fifteen minutes of the trip.
That whole second whale-watching trip was wonderful. Definitely the high point of the week.
Again, I hope to post my photos and videos sooner or later, but in the meantime, you can whet your appetite with the whale-watching company's Flickr pages. I'm a little unclear on why they refer to the humpback as Spoon there, 'cause I'm pretty sure that's not the name they told us; maybe those photos are from a different trip that day. But I suspect the pilot whale photos on that page are from the trip I was on on Thursday.
After the whale watching, took the bus back to the cabins, where I had a sort of makeshift dinner, and then played in Fred's LARP—he usually runs one each time we have one of these vacations. This time I played a retired Charles Eliot, who'd been president of Harvard for 40 years; I helped figure out that Amy's evil villain was in fact an evil villain, but was nearly duped into accidentally helping her with one of her evil plots.
And that was the last night of the Bar Harbor/Acadia trip. The week kind of flew by.
I neglected to mention various other things above: stargazing from the dock a couple of times, some games (including a game of Pandemic, which we won, and a game of Give Me the Brain), some poi-spinning, some juggling-teaching, a bunch of good conversation and general chatting, spending time with friends I don't see often enough, etc.
It was overall a pretty relaxing vacation; I took things easy, didn't stray too far outside my comfort zone very often, mostly did whatever I wanted to do. I realized on Sunday, after running into Jim and completely changing my plans, that I would be best off being flexible this trip and just going with whatever came my way; that worked pretty well, too. I ought to have set aside some time for work—there's stuff for both magazine and day job that I ought to have done a week ago or more—but maybe I can do some of that this weekend.
Thanks very much, as always, to the organizers! On these kinds of trips and events, I tend to end up relying more than I ought to on other people to organize and schedule Fun Stuff for me to do; I very much appreciate all the hard work that goes into that.
Thanks also to the other attendees! And to the proprietors of Woodland Park Cottages, where we were staying.
Next week I'll be in Boston. Thinking I may spend a couple of days on day job instead of vacation, given that a fair number of the people I would normally visit in Boston were in Maine with me this week. We'll see.
Next weekend, home.