Day 47: Whale Watching

2 miles

Our whale watching boat

Our whale watching boat

Our alarm woke us early today. Wait, an alarm? We never set an alarm! Today we had to get out the door extra early to get to our whale watching boat in time. After a quick breakfast in our room we walked to the edge of the parking lot to wait for our free bus to downtown. We then walked a few blocks to the harbor and found a couple open seats on the top deck of the boat.

Cute Puffins

Cute Puffins

The whale watching boat is a catamaran style twin-hull boat powered by some kind of water jet engines. It can cruise at over 30 mph and at that speed it didn’t take long to reach our first stop at the Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge. The island of Petit Manan is home to a large colony of Atlantic Puffins. Our boat didn’t get super close, so I was thankful we rented a pair of binoculars on the boat. The puffins are cute little birds and it was nice to see them swimming and flying nearby.

Humpback whale and calf

Humpback whale and calf

Before long we were speeding along towards the whale feeding grounds to hopefully find some whales. Sure enough, someone spotted the tell-tale spray of steam from a whale emptying its lungs. The boat slowed down and we were able to see a humpback whale and its calf swimming together. We also saw several other whales in the area. Usually they were quite far away, but once or twice they were close enough to elicit “oohs” and “aahs” from the people on board. The coolest part is when the whales’ tails appear above the surface of the water.

I was a little disappointed that the whales were usually so far away, but maybe we’ll have some better whale watching opportunities when we reach the West Coast. My favorite part of the boat ride was simply enjoying the vastness of the ocean. The gray sky almost seamlessly blended into the gray water at the distant horizon. I recently discovered that you can take a cruise ship across the Atlantic for not too much money. Today’s trip reinforced my desire to end our time in Europe next summer by crossing the Atlantic by boat. I think a week or so on the open ocean would be a great experience.

Back to today: we were soon back in the harbor and off the boat. We went back to our motel for a lunch of sandwiches, then we biked to the nearest laundromat. Thus the 2 miles listed above. Our dinner was burritos at a local place called “Gringo’s”. They weren’t quite on par with Big City Burrito, Qdoba or Chipotle, but they weren’t bad for a small town on the northern Atlantic coast. Thankfully, ice cream is one thing Mainers have down pat. Mount Desert Island Ice Cream gets my seal of approval! We’ll need those calories for tomorrow as we plan to bike across the island.

More photos from today’s boat trip:

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