Yesterday we took Gloria on her first boat ride with Grandpa Gary and Grandma Lynn to see the orcas up close and personal in the San Juan Islands, located about 100 miles northwest of Seattle. There are a bunch of companies that offer whale watching tours out of Friday Harbor; after some research we decided on booking with Western Prince.
The trip started out with a pre-adventure at home. We piled into the Prius at 9:30AM and put it in reverse. I pressed on the gas and nothing, the car simply slid forward a bit on our steeply inclined driveway. We tried everything we could think of, including rebooting a few times, but to no avail. It’s our only car, and we thought we were sunk. Fortunately we have the best neighbors ever, and they lent us a car for the day. We also lucked out with clear highways to Anacortes; we boarded the ferry for Friday Harbor with about 90 seconds to spare.
Our stress disappeared once we were on the ferry. I can’t believe that I have lived in the Northwest for 14 years and hadn’t done this trip before. The scenery was stunning, both on the public ferry ride and in our whale watching boat. Western Prince had knowledgeable naturalists on board, who explained how you can identify orcas by their fins, mouth, and spots. The salmon were running closer to Vancouver, so our guide took us into Canadian waters to track the orcas (who dine on salmon). We were blessed with gorgeous weather; it was sunny and crystal clear. I lost count of all the whales we saw, and the orcas seemed like they were going nice and slow to enjoy the day as well.
We had a few other wildlife encounters on the boat. We witnessed a school of Coho salmon jumping out of the water and flapping their tails. I wasn’t quick enough on the draw to snap any (good) photos, so I kicked back and enjoyed this rare treat (the naturalist told us she’s seen Cohos jumping like this maybe twice in the past decade). Closer to Friday Harbor were a few families of harbor seals, plump and playful. It was the middle of pupping season, and we spied a few of the new arrivals nursing away.
It was a great day trip, and I think Gloria enjoyed her time on the water (the rest of us certainly did!). Our full photo set from the day is available here.
On the ferry to Friday Harbor (Gloria is hiding from the sun under the baseball cap)
Killing time on the Western Prince en route to the orcas
The adoring grandparents with their little Glorca
Orca in front of the lighthouse
Up close with one of the orcas
It took about 50 tries to catch our orca friend at just the right time with Mt. Baker in the background