Friday morning my mother and I had a reservation for a half day kayaking trip in Resurrection Bay in Seward, AK.
First I get a migraine on the drive down and my vision blurs and I start seeing spots. Not good, but my Mom and I switch places and I can rest my eyes and try to regain some sense of normal vision while she finishes the drive. Then about an hour later as we’re looking for our kayak tour place I notice my index finger is numb. Then my index finger and the tip of my second finger. Then my eye. Then my cheek. Next the right side of my tongue, etc. etc. At this point my mother is freaking out thinking I’m having a stroke, and I’m just trying to convince her I’m ok, just slightly more numb for the wear. Basically, I wasn’t giving up on this damn kayaking trip for no stinking half of my face going numb!
Thankfully the numbness passes, after of course I’d suffered more loss of vision, and a temporary change in my hearing (seriously falling apart) and finally I’ve convinced my mother I’m ok to head out kayaking.
And I’m so glad I stood firm because after the numbness and all the other crazy migraine symptoms passed the kayaking was breathtaking.
Plus, we got to take embarrassing pictures with kayaking skirts! How could I miss that?
Once we were in our boats the wildlife decided to come out and play. First there were the salmon that were throwing themselves every which way that was pretty spectacular, and then all of a sudden my mom spotted dolphins. They were a smaller species than I’d seen in the waters of California or Hawaii, fast little pods that were clearly enjoying all the salmon around us. And, in the picture below they look like, well, a far far far away bump. But I promise, dolphins!
Then, because we CLEARLY hadn’t had enough adorableness in one day we began spotting sea otters. Which it turns out could care less about people and are content to put on shows of extreme preciousness for all who would like to see.
Hello there Mr. Sea Otter! Can I take you home with me? Oly and Stella will love you.
Just when it seemed the day couldn’t get any better what with the wildlife, the beautiful green water, the glaciers sparkling in the mountains and the fact is was NOT raining, my mother spots something she describes as looking like a water poof about 50-75 feet ahead of our boats. All three of our boats stop paddling, we’re dead in the water scanning the horizon to see if what she thought she’d seen was really possible.
Our guide had informed us that seeing whales, especially humpback whales in the bay was highly unlikely, so I’ll admit more than one of us thought my mother was off her rocker.
Then, not more than 25 feet in front of my tiny, flimsy, plastic kayak it surfaced.
A humpback whale in all its glory a mere 25 feet from my boat.
We all screamed, and as it took a breath and went back under we suddenly realized this massive animal, capable of knocking us into the water with little to no effort was directly UNDER OUR BOAT.
This isn’t some cute exaggeration my friends. As my mother and I looked over the side we could actually see the water displacing below us as the whale moved directly under our tiny plastic boat. It looked as if a submarine was pushing the water some 20 or so feet below us. And we had no idea if he was going to keep going, or come up for another view.
The look on our guide’s face was what keep me terrified, instead of reassured. You could tell she was trying to stay calm, to keep us calm, and oh SHIT it was not working. She calmly instructed us to all tap lightly on our boats, to let the whale know we were above him (OMG HI MR. WHALE DO YOU HEAR ME UP HERE? STAY DOWN! STAY DOWN!). Meanwhile my mother quietly hyperventilated, and when we were all sure the whale was long gone, we all started freaking out.
Happy, scared, amazed, all six of us in the group talking a mile a minute we quickly came to the realization that we had just had a truly a once in a lifetime experience. I’m extremely lucky having lived my entire life near the ocean in some capacity or another, and so I’ve seen many whales from either the comfort of a car (we saw the illusive white whale on our drive to Seward!) or boat, but never have I had a whale swim directly under me. Not off to the side, not 200 yards in front of us, under my boat.
It’s something my mother and I will never forget. Mostly I regret that I didn’t believe her first claim of spotting the whale. Had I had my camera at the ready maybe I would have captured this truly phenomenal moment.
The moral of this whale of a tail (GET IT? I crack myself up!) is that if you’re ever in Seward, AK I highly recommend you check out Adventure Kayak Worldwide. And if you go and check out their homepage, please take note of the picture of the humpback whale throwing its zillion ton body out of the water and then imagine me in my tiny kayak next to it.
As I sat silently in my kayak, waiting to see where the whale would surface next, all I could picture was that beast giving us his best free Willy, and landing right on us.
Thankfully, he wasn’t exactly in a jumping mood.