17 April 2011

Whales at Sunrise

We got up at 5:00 a.m. this morning in time to be at Lahaina Harbor and catch a sunrise whale watching cruise with the Pacific Whale Foundation.  It was a beautiful morning, and although April is near the end of the humpback whale breeding season when the whales head for Alaska, we managed to get a great view of several whales -- a baby and mother whale, and a male escort whale eager to breed before heading north.

The shallow and protected water between the islands of Maui and Moloka'i is home to thousands of humpback whales during the breeding season from November to May.  We learned a lot about whales today, including how big they are -- the mother whale was at least 50 feet long. Just think graceful big yellow school bus.

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to view these magnificent and graceful creatures in the wild.  I thought it was especially amazing to see the interactions between the female whale and her baby.  At one point she had the baby on her head.  Another time, the baby was underneath her, probably nursing (according to the biologist on the cruise).  And another time they were just playing together in the water.  It really seemed like they had affection for each other.

Of course photos never do the experience justice.  And I'm proud to say I just observed and marveled in the moment as I watched most of the action, rather than trying to capture it with my camera.  Even so, I managed a few shots that give a sense of what we saw.

My whale watching companions as we headed out of Lahaina Harbor.

Sunrise over the West Maui Mountains.

The female whale's flukes as she makes a deep dive.

Mom and baby whale side by side with visible dorsal fins.

The baby whale slapping the water with his/her pectoral fin. 

Clouds casting shadows on the island of Moloka'i, viewed from the channel between the islands.

16 April 2011

Some Down Time on Maui

Today marks the midpoint of our time here.  It's a vacation we've been needing for some time now, we just didn't know how badly.  Happily, we have very little on our agenda each day.  Mostly deciding how much iced coffee to drink, where to eat lunch, and what time to dip our toes in the water.

Today is Byron's birthday, giving us a great excuse for an upscale lunch of celebration at Mama's Fish House.  A handsome 41, wouldn't you say?

15 April 2011

Meeting the Sister-Cousin

"I'm his sister when we are together and his cousin when we aren't."  This is Sadie's take on her relationship with Wyatt.  She is four and a half.

Last week, I had an adventure and flew with Wyatt to San Francisco.  We spent four mostly sunny and fun days hanging out with Jill and Sadie during Sadie's spring break (and did our best to keep them company while Mark was away on business).  Sadie was eager to meet Wyatt and to help with as many diaper changes as possible.  Jill needed in-person confirmation that we actually had a baby and that she hadn't just dreamed the whole thing.  Aside from the diaper containment issue we had on the way down, the flights went well both ways. We had a great time.

We got to visit Happy Hollow Park and Zoo with Jill, Sadie, and her friend Jackson and his family. We ate Mexican and Vietnamese -- again and again.  Our favorites.  We took walks in the neighborhood.  We visited an amazing nursery in Half Moon Bay.  And Wyatt and I looked on in envy as Sadie and Jill planted their brand new raised garden beds in tomatoes, beans, herbs and swiss chard.

Thanks to Sadie, Wyatt was also introduced to Barbies and chapter books, and always had company in the back seat.

Considering Wyatt has come along later in our lives, it's likely he won't have a sister or a brother.  We're glad Sadie is up for filling that role.  But the fact she and Wyatt live in different cities is problematic.  I've been thinking a lot about what it will take to help Sadie and Wyatt not only know each other but grow to love each other -- if not like siblings, then definitely as close cousins.

Even before Sadie and Wyatt, we had already developed a habit of trying to get together with Jill and Mark every few months.  We had been doing well -- averaging every third month/several times a year, I think -- until the last year when we got super busy with the house and having a baby.  Thankfully, Jill and Mark and Sadie have come to visit us when we couldn't get away or weren't able to travel.  Now, we hope we can head down to see them more regularly again.  And of course, there are travel plans.  We love traveling and vacationing with them -- and if we all have our way, that will continue indefinitely.  I'm already working on a Europe trip idea for fall 2012.  Wyatt would still fly free and Sadie would be old enough to really enjoy it.  We'll see.

Of course, we'll see them many times before then . . .