Gloucester, 2001

My friend Monica stopped in Boston in the middle of her road trip to spend a few days with me, arriving just before our much belated house warming party on Fri Jun 8. I suggested that we go whale watching while she was here, and so organised a trip for the Sunday.

Sun Jun 10

We budgeted an hour and a half to get up to Gloucester from Boston, and left right on time. Which was good, since we needed every minute to get there for the suggested time of 1pm. We went up Alewife Brook Pkwy to I93 and took it up to I95, which we stayed on for one exit, getting off at route 128. We took that towards Gloucester, and took one of the many round abouts to get onto 127 into the heart of the city. We found the Seven Seas Whale Watching sign on our first try, I'd picked right on 127 on instinct. Free parking on Sunday was grabbed and we loaded up with our cameras and sweaters. I picked up our reserved tickets and we had just enough time to hit the gift shop for some candy. They ended up having a galley on board, but I was hungry right then. We grabbed seats on the starboard side but lost them as we moved over to port to hear the naturalist's speil. She showed us a rubber worm like sea creature that the whales eat and gave us some idea what to expect, emphasising that it would be an adventure. A no-whale = free trip guarantee was reassuring, though not for Monica, I'm sure, since she was hitting the road again on Tuesday.

The boat pulled out on time, and we motored out of the harbour, passing a castle on the shore that once belonged to the Moonies. Once past the break water we sped up, but the water remained fairly calm. Monica and I passed the 1.5 hour trip out to the feeding ground in idle chatter, watching a toddler make the rounds of the ship on her father's leash. The older kids banded together in a pack and blithely disregarded the warnings against running. Once we hit the bank, an announcement was made that a whale had been sighted 20 mins further along, so we headed up there and caught up to the other boats harassing the humpback. It was exciting spotting the blow as the whale surfaced, and we saw it's tail a few times as it went down for deeper dives. It did look remarkably serpent like as it was curving down into the depths, only it's hump marring the sleek back before the flukes broke the surface. It came up a few times and we would idle until the blow was spotted again, 7 or 8 minutes later. We had to leave it when our time ran out, to head back to the harbour. I saw another blow on our way back, but we didn't have time to watch that whale, one the naturalist on board suggested might be a Minke due to the smaller spout.

The motor back to Gloucester was long, about 2 hours, and we just sat in the sun and watched the clouds roll in and the sun go down, docking at around 7pm. Despite grabbing snacks during the ride, we were all set for dinner, so we left the car and walked over a street and along it until we found a pub that was open. We split an appetiser of mussels, which were quite good but not quite up to the level of the spicy mussels at the Thirsty Scholar in Somerville. I had the halibut in lemon sauce and it was divine. We went back to the car via the harbour walk and made our way back to Watertown. It was around 10pm by the time we got back and I was beat enough to go straight to bed, reconfirming my mum's old adage about the fresh sea air tiring me out all the time.

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