Out and About – and Afloat

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Happy Monday everyone! (Well, it was Monday when I wrote this…)

It’s been a long morning – I’ve been up since 5 am! I stopped by Trader Joe’s this morning to pick up some protein items, swiped my card at the check-out, and almost left before actually signing for it! I sarcastically excused myself with, “Well, I’m awake this morning” – to which the wonderful cashier boy replied, “Yeah, me neither.” πŸ˜‰

So why I have I been up since five this morning? To see my mom off to the airport! She flew all the way from Missouri last week to visit me out here in LA! Of course, Mom time also meant adventure time. πŸ™‚

Our hop around L.A. had us drinking tea, sampling Thai banana rolls, and checking out the eco-book selection at the vegan Green Earth Cafe in Old Pas,

sipping on the best (and prettiest) soy vanilla latte that, honestly, I’ve ever had,

spending some quality play time with my mom’s “grandcat” Silky,

and enjoying some much-needed exploration at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific!

Of course, I had to visit the pinnipeds πŸ™‚

Look at those teeth!

And we went whale-watching! While we didn’t spot any whales on our trip aboard the Christopher, we did see a harem of sea lions hanging out on a buoy, a pod of traveling bottlenose dolphins (!!!), andΒ LOTS of sea birds (Luke, our tour guide, was able to figure out I had spotted some Grebes based on my description of them as “those black and white birds with the long necks and the beaks and who dive whenever we go by.” I was impressed).

It was fantastic – and FREEZING! Cool day + 25 mph speed + shorts = brrrr!!!

So for all of you boating hopefuls out there, I’ve got some advice πŸ™‚

Miceala’s Whale-Watching Guidelines

1. Know your tour company.

Whale-watching, sea lion spotting, really any sort of nature observation or eco-tourism needs to be done through a reputable company. Animals and ecologies need to be respected, and companies should foster education and conservation. Make sure your tour company looks past the financial gain of human entertainment to consider the footprint their groups will be leaving behind.

2. Know your climate.

When you have an impulse to buy a windbreaker from the aquarium gift shop, apparently you should listen to it! Long pants and layers come in handy for high speeds on the seas. So do sunglasses (less squinting is really more pleasant) and sunscreen. Because, you know, otherwise you might, um, end up with a brilliant sunburn you’re grateful your mother didn’t take pictures of you with…

3. Know your time.

How long do you want to observe for? If you’ve got ’em, how long are your kids’ attention spans? How long is your attention span? Do you want a guaranteed 30 minute tour of sea lions chillin’ in the harbor, or are you willing to spend a less predictable 2 hours out on the water appreciating whatever animals you do come across?

4. Know – well, actually, just don’t know.

Ask questions! Learn stuff! I got to hear about an ongoing research project correlating species sightings from the whale-watching cruises to data about animal migration patterns and human shipping lanes, all because I asked the education intern on the boat what she was writing on her clipboard πŸ™‚

Wishing y’all smooth sailing! πŸ™‚

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