A couple of years ago, Steve and I joined two other couples and embarked on a dream of my lifetime—an Alaskan cruise! One of my main desires on this cruise was to see whales. Ever since I first heard tales of some friends’ Alaskan cruise and their siting of whales from the deck of their ship, I have dreamed of having that same experience. I had no preconceived notions of what such an experience would be like. I had no previous exposure to whales. I could only recall a few pictures of them blowing water from their heads (technically, it’s called a “blowhole”). I suppose I would have been happy had that been the sum of my experience.
Steve and the other guys went salmon fishing one day, and my two gal friends and I went on a whale-watching excursion. We sat inside a large boat with glass all around, bundled in our jackets and rain gear and listened to our guide give us background information on where we were and what we were doing. She would direct our attention to specific areas where whales had recently been spotted—like within the previous half hour—and then we would stare… and stare… and stare. Following is a very short clip, which accurately portrays what “whale watching” is like (the lady in the foreground who is methodically scanning the landscape for “our whale” is my friend, Melanie; the voice you hear is mine):
After that disappointing beginning (disappointing for me), we moved further out to sea and did make several sightings of whales blowing and lifting their monstrous backs above the surface of the water. Once, we even saw one “dive” back under, exposing his tail. It was pretty impressive—and very short-lived. There’s no way I could have gotten a picture or video without knowing in advance where and when it was going to happen and had my camera pointed in exactly the right place.
Besides the whale sightings, we also saw an island full of fat walruses (funny-looking animals!). And the views on this excursion were breathtaking. My heart was full.
Our guide announced that it was time to head back to shore. She encouraged us to keep our eyes open; maybe we would see more wildlife on the way back. And then this happened:
Fortunately, I had my iPhone with me and was able to catch this incredible display by the mama whale and her calf (as the guide on the video explained, this is called “breaching”). I suppose we saw one or the other or both of them breach at least 10 times as we traveled back to shore. It was definitely a highlight of my cruise.
At times like this, I can’t help but remember the not-so-distant past when it wasn’t as simple to capture an experience at a moment’s notice. As demonstrated in the first video above, it’s not always possible to capture “the actual moment,” but then, even the near-misses are worth recording, as they too, help document your journey—and bring a smile to your face.
Do you “capture the moments” on a regular basis? Do you have any tips to pass on to help other (including me) do it better?