Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Several different Cape Cod companies offer whale-watching cruises. Your family boards a large boat with dozens of other passengers, spends an hour circumnavigating the Cape, spends another hour or two in the nearest part of the Atlantic Ocean searching for signs of whales, seeks every possible opportunity to gaze upon a real whale in the wild, and spends another hour returning to port. Their cruises are short, fast, and noncommittal compared to your average week-long Alaskan cruise. If you have no real reason to remain out to sea for days, it’s a much more affordable open-water sampling method.
Even if the Hyannis Whale Watching Cruise had turned out whaleless, the voyage itself off the Cape into the nearest reaches of the Atlantic Ocean was a fascinating experience for our family of landlubbers. Our landlocked homeland is hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, and we certainly don’t have any whale pods conveniently hanging out in Lake Michigan.
I suspect we weren’t the only passengers inexperienced with sea travel. We surprisingly saw no signs of seasickness, though I suppose those afflicted might not stay out in plain view. To a certain extent it was also reassuring to know we weren’t the only ship at sea in our vicinity.
The crews of all the various whale-watching cruise ships kept in contact in order to coordinate efforts and maximize the tourist experience. I appreciated that sensible display of community spirit, though I also noticed our captain kept us on a wide berth apart from the other ships, even when we circled the same singular whale. I presume that was for both safety and nautical regulations, rather than an encouragement of any unhelpful us-vs.-them mentality.
I bet our boat was way cooler, though.
Even though the giant mammal hunt was the main event, I tried to keep in mind that the cruise in itself was wildly atypical fare for us. I’d only witnessed the ocean for myself twice before in previous vacations: once in 2007 at Cocoa Beach before a nasty thunderstorm drove us away from the shore and back to the highway; and once in 2008 at Virginia Beach while I was physically unwell and learning the hard way that I kind of loathe sunny, piping-hot beaches. This year marked my first time sallying forth into open seawater toward the unreachable horizon beyond.
I was so elated, I was only slightly fazed when a storm front rolled toward us, not even an hour from port, as if tracking us by the ship’s backwash.
My son and I found that part less frightening than the other tourists might’ve. Most sought shelter inside the ship as much as possible. I found an alcove for reasonable dryness, but wanted to keep a vantage point open in case of photogenic tidal waves or surprise whale frolicking. No such luck. The oddest part was watching the horizon blur for several minutes, temporarily dissolved amidst the conflict of water-from-above versus water-down-below.
My son stayed topside for several minutes and drowned like a rat, just because that’s how he rolls. He didn’t join us below deck till he got bored. When the storm passed and our whale-spotting time expired, other youngsters summoned the nerve to emerge from hiding, flock to the bow, join the I’m-King-of-the-World! line, and await their turn to shout in defiant homage at an unimpressed horizon.
[Quick housekeeping intermission: if you’re a first-time MCC visitor who’s browsing as part of the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge, then: (1) welcome! (2) I freely confess the remaining photos in this set are, for WPC purposes, largely off-topic; but (3) you’re welcome to stick around and keep viewing anyway. Make yourself at home, leave some comments, share with your two hundred closest acquaintances, and/or click the “Random Post” button in the upper-left corner a few dozen times for a grab bag of reading fun. Cheers!]
As you’d expect from today’s Instagram nation, my wife and I weren’t the only camera-happy whale watchers on board. All decks were filled with our kind of people, who’d like very much to hold on to reminders of our unique moments when we’re forty years older and having trouble sorting them out in our heads.
The trip back to the mainland was a solid hour of pedal-to-the-metal speedboating. I stood up for a while and enjoyed the harsh wind-tunnel effect buffeting me in the face, better and more refreshing than any electric fan man has yet invented. Once I began freezing and the windburn began to sting, then I sat down and tried to nap away the long, whale-free minutes as we retreated to port.
Disembarking was uneventful but bittersweet. I wish the trip had offered even more sights to see and excuses to keep on cruising; on the other hand, it was lunchtime.
All things considered, the trip was a success. We saw a new vista or two, gazed upon whales in their natural habitat, experienced our first cruise ship ride, and weren’t accosted by pirates. Good enough for me.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]