Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Adventure on the High Seas (kind of)

Today--I'm gonna be honest--Team WestEnders was dragging a bit from all of the late nights, running around, and...general vacation-type antics. So we considered ourselves lucky that we had a transportation-heavy activity on the agenda to celebrate Independence Day...because really, what's more American than...good old fashioned...whale watching? (Okay, probably quite a few things, but work with me here, 'kay?)

The tour I'd booked for us left from the Port of Edmonds, just a bit north of Seattle on Puget Sound. After a leisurely 40-minute drive, we arrived in plenty of time to seek out a lunch spot before boarding the boat. However, our search was somewhat hampered by the fact that many streets in the small town were blocked off for the 4th of July parade, which appeared to be a verrry big deal in these parts. People (and pets!) of all ages decked out in traditional red, white and blue lined the streets, waving flags, cheering, and getting their patriotic groove on, big time.

When we did finally find a parking spot, we didn't have much time left for actual dining, but we were rescued by the Here and There food truck, situated in the middle of the adorable town-square-ish area, that served barbeque and hotdogs for the boys, and clearly-homemade black bean sliders for me. (And might I add....YUMMM!) Then we hustled down to the dock to meet our crew and get this party...um "voyage" started.

The vessel for our trip was called the Chillkat Express, which Captain Brian proudly informed us was the "fastest ship on the West Coast", reaching speeds of 40 mph. There was also an onboard naturalist, who kept us informed with interesting tidbits throughout our excursion, such as the fact that there are currently only 83 Orcas left in the wild, due to their food supply--primarily chinook salmon--declining. She also gave us the important notice that we'd be taking the "alternate weather route" based on the remnants of the previous night's large swells, caused by 30-knot winds (I don't know exactly what that means, but it sounded pretty bad, so I just took their word for it...).

But the initial part of the sail was smooth and easy. We gazed out the windows at the turquoise water, deep green pines, and spectacular houses lining the shore. Then we entered the strait known as Deception Pass, and things got a bit...choppy. The 63-foot boat bounced around on the waves...in a slightly disconcerting manner....but not too difficult. Shortly thereafter we reached our destination: San Juan Island, where a small pod of 3 "Transient Orcas"--a mother with her 16-year old and 4-year old offspring--had been spotted earlier in the morning.

Alas, they seemed to have moved on, and we were not to be graced with a whale-sighting. The captain and staff apologized profusely, but what can ya do? Nature does its own thing, and that's the way it goes. So we turned around and headed back...which is where the afternoon got a little...dicey...for one of Team WestEnders' merry little band of travelers. Some background: last night, Riley told me he's been feeling a bit unsteady on his feet these last few days since disembarking in Seattle. Specifically, he said that the ground occasionally feels like it's lurching under him...and he wondered if any of the rest of us can relate? (Um...noooo, honey, that's just you. Sorry...)

I figured he might have some fluid in his ears from flying...which made me worry about him riding in a boat for 4-1/2 hours. So in an effort to prevent any...maritime calamities...Husband took him to a drugstore this morning to get a pair of those motion-sickness-prevention bands you put around your wrist, which exert pressure on an accupressure point and are supposed to quell nausea. (I have my own pair, and always wear them on water-journeys--I swear they work...) However...the return trip to shore treated us to quite a bit more of the roller-coaster-ish motion, and at some point we noticed that Riley was missing. As we peered around the cabin, a fellow passenger (a teenage girl) walked by and asked who we were looking for. "Crutches," Husband succinctly told her. "Oh, he's getting sick in the second bathroom," she helpfully replied.

Oops. Our intrepid explorer had succumbed to the rolling surf...and roiling stomach. When he rejoined us, he was deathly pale, overlaid by a lovely shade of seafoam green (delightful for, say, walls...not so much for skin). Fortunately, Husband always carries his migraine and anti-nausea medication...just in case...and he was able to provide Riley some pharmaceutical support to help settle the tummy. Thus he made it the rest of the way back without further incident, to everyone's collective relief. Nonetheless, we were all pretty happy to reach solid ground again. Even though we didn't get to observe any wildlife, it was a scenic tour, and enjoyed by all (well...maybe some of us more than others...)

Tomorrow, for our last day in the Pacific Northwest, we're sticking to terra firma and tackling Mt. Rainier...in a car, anyway. For now, we're signing off...and keeping our fingers crossed that the bed doesn't feel like it's rocking tonight!

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