By Megan Ulland, Guest Columnist
“Here comes the tail, Mommy. Watch and see.”
After enjoying a weekend escape to an 1850’s farmhouse in Vermont from the hustle of live in Newton, we found ourselves in the midst of a lazy, relaxing Memorial Day Weekend.
The kids and I had some errands to run on Saturday to finish the present shopping for my husband’s birthday come Sunday. We also had to gather ingredients for his cake, a rainbow trout complete with rainbow sprinkles, per my daughter’s request. The weather was stunning and we played outside as often as we could.
Sunday the kids woke early, wrapped presents and proceeded to wake Dad to open them. They were very excited about the presents they picked out for him. My son, obsessed with the Pixar CARS movie, found a Lightening McQueen with a plow. My daughter, a little more able to think beyond what she hopes to get, thought that Dad would want a train, Rocky.
They carefully picked the wrapping paper, wrapped the presents and in Dad’s presence, they quickly opened his presents and disappeared with his new toys. Rocky, it turned out, needed to be introduced to Thomas and we never learned what Lightening McQueen needed to do.
I have to admit, we bought the presents on Wednesday, so I was impressed that the kid waited this long to open the presents and only told Dad a few times what they’d picked out for him.
After presents and some time in the backyard, we had an early lunch and headed to Gloucester. The weather was perfect and it was whale-watching season. We boarded the boat docked at the Cape Ann Whale Watching Company at 1pm.
The day promised to be great – they’d seen over 20 whales and 100 dolphins the day prior. The kids were excited and picked seats on the upper deck. They chattered happily about the fishing boats tied to the dock next to the Hurricane II. We left the dock at 1:30 with three educators on board along with the hopeful whale watchers.
The boat was very spacious and comfortable for both the kids and us. There is a full galley serving all sorts of snacks and the lower deck offers shaded and inside areas to escape the hot sun.
An hour into the trip, though, the kids were a bit restless. They wanted to see whales. None of the boats have special whale finding equipment; it’s a bit of a guessing game. So, the typical 3-4 hour trip turned into almost six hours because it took nearly two hours to find the whales, which were just off the tip of Provincetown. It was completely worth the extra time on the boat.
From the top deck, we saw at least eight whales, some at a distance, some within feet of the boat. We followed a mom and calf pair for a long time, seeing many whale blows, fluke glimpses and at times three to four whales together. The pair would dive deep for 4-10 minutes and resurface again feet from our boat.
The kids were ecstatic, and to be honest, so was I. It was the closest I’ve ever come to wild whales. Our son is fascinated by whales and quickly could spot them with the best researchers, telling us when the whales’ tails were coming, saying “Here comes the tail, Mommy. Watch and see.”.
On the return trip, which was quite long too, the kids were able to relax and play with whale toys and memory games using the fluke pictures of the wild whales that live off the Massachusetts coast. A delicious dinner at a local seafood café, Charlie’s Place, rounded out our fun filled day before we headed home for birthday cake. I’m still not sure who loved the birthday more, my husband or the kids.
Megan Ulland is the mother of two children who lives in Newton.