Who goes miles out into the Pacific Ocean in a raft, gets a beat down by the waves and weather, has a celestial vision of some sort because death is just one whale tale sashay away and pays a mighty fee for the privilege?
Short answer — me.
I’d like to start out my tale of woe by saying screw you bucket list because you almost wiped out my entire family. And I think karma was in play because I kind of lied that seeing migrating whales was even on my bucket list.
Here’s the deal: We were in Southern California over the holidays and I wanted to experience some whales up close and personal in their natural habitat. The problem was the price for “extreme whale watching” was mighty hefty so I told my husband we had to drop that much cash because it was “on my bucket list.”
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I’ve got to give my husband credit because he looked extremely skeptical that I even had a bucket list beyond stocking a deep freeze with 500 cases of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. But because, he’s a really good guy, he agreed that the monetary expenditure was worth it for a “once in a lifetime family experience.”
I had done my research and selected the “aquatic adventure” that got you the nearest to the migration “without disturbing the whales.” This meant that my family of four would be cruising the open seas in what the website described as an “authentic Navy Seal zodiac.”
Are you kidding me? How cool is that?
True confession time here. I’ve always wanted to be a Navy Seal and I could have been, you know, except for the whole physical and mental endurance part. I was totally psyched for my whale watching/Navy Seal wannabe excursion right up to the point until we saw the “boat” because it wasn’t a boat, it was a rubber raft.
I’m dead serious when I tell you it was one step above a pool float. Basically it was a pool float with an engine and a guy who called himself a “captain.” It made the SS Minnow look like an aircraft carrier.
Of course, because apparently we’re a family of idiots, we all got on the raft and motored off into the deep waters of the Pacific to where the gray whales would be migrating. It was all good, a bit of a bladder buster as the raft was pummeled by the waves, but spirits were still high. Then the weather dramatically changed from mild to mental. A rainstorm of biblical proportions hammered us and churned up the ocean right as we spotted our first whale.
The whale was spectacular, but one thing they don’t tell you about the “up close” viewing of a 35 ton mammal is that it could sink your raft in a blink of an eye especially when it’s raining so hard the captain shares that he “can’t see to steer away from the whales.”
We were doomed.
As I looked around to tell my family I loved them and suggest we do a group hug so as we sank the bottom of the Pacific to become shark chum we would be together forever, I noticed my daughter was too busy recording our death for her “Snapchat story” to even blow me a kiss.
“Bella!” I screamed over the killer waves, “Put down your phone for a final hug!”
My son yelled back, “Let her die as she lived always looking at her phone.”
Even in my final moments of life I had to give it up to my son for such a profound and accurate statement.
My husband hollered, “Way to go on the whale watching Sherry!”
Really, we’re taking our final breaths of sweet, sweet, life and he’s sarcastic? Unbelievable.
Then just as I thought I saw Jesus (or maybe it was mist) surfing on the back of a gray whale the skies cleared and the ocean calmed. We were going to live, but I fear I’ll never live down my “bucket list” adventure.
Reach Sherry Kuehl at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.