Poor California. The October storm that passed through this week just seemed to emphasize how gloomy things have been this year: Our unemployment rate is somewhere around 12%, our state budget is a shambles and the experts say we will lag behind as the rest of the country recovers from the recession.
But the weather this morning was glorious. The sun was shining, the rain washed away all the grit and I could see the beauty of our mountains. Our economic woes cannot obscure the beauty of this state.
We are blessed to be near mountains and oceans and deserts... all within driving distance. And now that the storm has passed, the weather forecast for this weekend is sunny and warm... perfect for enjoying all California has to offer.
That includes surveying the rich marine environment on our shore. I've written before about our visits to the Monterey and Long Beach Aquariums and attractions like Sea World, where we were entertained by trained whales and dolphins.
A couple of weeks ago, we went one step further and embarked on a two-hour cruise off the shore of Dana Point, with the intent of seeing sea mammals in their natural habitat.
This is something I'd only done once before (before my husband and I started dating), and I've always wanted to take him and Megan along. So when the kind folks at Dana Wharf invited us to go on one of their daily whale watching excursions, I couldn't say no. We packed up our family (and one of Megan's friends) and headed south to Dana Point.
This time of year, humongous blue whales are ending their migration, while gray whales are just starting to show up off the SoCal shore -- so we were told we had a good chance of seeing something (even if it was just dolphins -- which are crowd pleasers in their own right). But with animals in the wild, it's hard to predict anything, as you can see from the video I took of our trip:
The cool thing about this kind of activity is that it's fun for the whole family - even jaded teenagers. My daughter's friend told her parents she had a blast. And Megan enjoyed it, too (even if she acted oh, so blase).
I have a feeling we'll be doing this again - we want to see more whales (and are especially anxious to get a shot of one "fluking"). And the next time we go, we'll probably head out early so we can enjoy a leisurely meal at one of Dana Wharf's many restaurants (there was even a jazz combo playing in the courtyard).
Diclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. No promises were made that the post would be positive. I did receive four comped tickets for the whale watching excursion - face value $44 each.
My Disneyland survey is still open! If you take the survey and live in Southern California, you may be able to join me at the park's holiday blogger event on November 21 - details in this post.