Bethany:It all started with an innocent wish to go whale watching. I had this rosecolored image in my mind of standing on the deck of a large ferry, holding hands with Kevin, oohing and ahhing as great sea creatures meandered by us. Ha.
So when the activity showed up on Groupon, I excitedly booked tickets for all of us, including my in-laws, mom, and grandma.
I did wonder briefly about seasickness, since I was prone to it as a teenager, but that was deep sea fishing on a small boat. I had no problem crossing the Puget Sound on a larger vessel.
*Cue ominous music*
We arrived in Monterey and made our way down to the boats, only stopping for a few different samples of clam chowder. The boat was a little smaller than I had expected, and there were only about twenty people on board, but it was still a good size.
If we had been in a novel, the inauspicious first event of the trip might have provided some foreshadowing of what was to come. As the boat pulled away from the pier, it slid past a floating wooden box. The box had a small ridge around it on which several small sea lions were lounging. All but one of them had taken off at the sight of the boat approaching, but one stayed to watch us pass. Unfortunately for him, the ridge was not quite as wide as he was, so when the boat scraped the box, it also very much scraped him. He looked and sounded quite aggrieved, and we all were afraid to discover his fate, but apparently he did emerge triumphant. It was a bit unsettling though.
(The dead pelican floating nearby would have been another Hitchcockian clue. Sorry, no picture.)
But we were off to sea and feeling great. As we set out, everything was perfect; the water was gentle, the weather nice and sunny, the sea air as invigorating as expected.
Sea lions were out in full force, and we had barely left the pier when we started spotting dolphins. Their dorsal fins arched out of the water here, there, and everywhere, kind of like an aquatic whack-a-mole (like my romantic phrasing?).
Looking straight down into the murky water, you could just make out the forms of jellyfish all over. Giant ones, tiny ones, pink ones, white ones, translucent ones. It reminded me of the Dead Marshes, only slightly less creepy. (Or just as creepy, if your grandma is cheerily informing you that jellyfish can eat people alive.)
(I couldn't get a good angle, but you can just barely see one jelly in the bottom center of the picture)
We headed out in earnest, the boat moving so quickly that now it was nearly impossibly to walk around without grasping a rail or a seat. On the receding coast, we could see restaurants where we had dined over the years, famous tourist spots, and of course the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
It was at this point that most of us started feeling a little.... strange. I glanced down at Jack to find him sitting silently with a trail leading from his mouth down his little body, the stroller, and the deck of the ship. (No picture, thankfully)
And then it started to feel like we had all been entered into some eerie version of And Then There Were None involving another bodily fluid instead of blood. If you're a bit squeamish, you probably don't want to hear that I witnessed at least three more people losing their lunches before Jack had a second episode all over the both of us.
Once seasickness kicks in, everything aside from dry land suddenly seems incredibly disinteresting. The captain announced excitedly that we were being treated to a rare showing of another kind of dolphin, one seldom seen in such force and style. I saw them because they were in my line of sight, but even if I hadn't been clutching a rag-doll toddler, fishing for the camera would have been far too much effort. Even one glance away from the rising waves would have been fatal to the contents of my stomach.
When the boat stopped to see a couple pie-sized sunfish flopping around at the surface of the water, we could only groan and desperately wish that we had gone to the aquarium instead, where we could have been joyously and nausea-free-ly admiring sunfish ten times the size.
I eventually did have to frantically drop my blissfully sleeping child into the nearest available related lap to offer my own gift to the sea, and I can at least say that boats do have one thing going for them.... there are no shortages of places to discreetly vomit (never thought I'd put those two words together). The rest of the trip felt interminable. Aside from the captain and deckhand, I think there were a total of four people who did not fall sick (including my father in law and my grandma). And no, we did not see a whale.
I hugged Jack, closed my eyes, and tried desperately to let sleep overcome my screaming stomach for the trip back. Right before we pulled into the pier, we spotted a couple of otters* playing around a buoy. Otters and land sweet land. Is there any way to communicate the relief? We stepped off the boat onto solid ground and made our escape.
So I'm really torn on reviewing this. If you have a strong stomach, I imagine it would be an amazing trip (especially if you actually get to see whales). But if you're at all susceptible to seasickness, WELCOME TO THREE HOURS OF INESCAPABLE ABJECT MISERY. Afterward, Kevin asked me if I booked this activity as a way to force everyone to sympathize with how miserable I felt with morning sickness. I guess it would have been a deviously clever idea if I had somehow weaseled out of going myself. As it was, I just felt extremely guilty for making my family pay to be stranded on an island of unending gastric horror. (And yes, I may have also freshly reminded myself that I never want to experience morning sickness again.)
We all have a new appreciation for nature specials and the wondrous aquarium. That's as close as I want to get to the deeps ever ever ever again.
*(We love otters!)