Blue Heron in flight

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Whales and Grapefruit

It was nowhere near what you would call an ideal day for whale watching. The skies were gray, it was a tad chilly and the water had a bit of a chop. I didn't have time to get my ideal whale watching lens from the shop and would have to contend with my very slow Sigma zoom.

Still the worst day whale watching is still fantastic and nature decided to cooperate with us.

Leslie and I were treated to quite a show as we encountered about ten finback whales, the second largest animal on earth after the blue whale. 

These whales run about 80 to 90 feet in length.

We were barely out of the harbor when we first encountered a finback whale mother and her large calf. Normally we have to go about ten miles out to see these magnificent leviathans. The krill that they feed on was evidently quite close to shore and we saw them in about 80 meters of water.


We sat in the middle of the whale action for about two hours, no need to travel far when they come to you.

Chris was our captain, Tican the crew and we have gotten to know them over the years. We go a lot. Yesterday was special for us because we had so few people on the boat.

Fin whales don't usually breach like humpbacks (although we have seen them breach on a rare occasion) but their presence is still magical. We once had three tightly circle our boat for forty five minutes on a Catalina trip with Doug, Retha, Kent and Renee.  Perhaps it was the Marvin Gaye we were blasting.

Whales dig Marvin Gaye, don't ask me why.

The lack of optimal photographic conditions allowed me to just enjoy myself rather than being forced to record the experience. It was nice.

Later we ran into a small school of dolphins.

All in all, it was quite a nice day.


We stopped by our great friends Ron and Lena's home in Cardiff after our excursion for an anniversary champagne toast and appetizers.


We then went to the restaurant for dinner. Pamplemousse Grille is our favorite place to eat in San Diego County. Located across from the Del Mar Racetrack, their food is always exceptional as is their chef, Jeffrey Strauss. Check out their menu. It was a tough choice.

We usually go for Restaurant Week when it is cheaper but what the heck, this was our thirtieth anniversary so we went for it.

We started with their smoked seafood medley; Smoked lobster, shrimp, scallop, salmon and a potato galette, with a caviar pepper Beurre Blanc. Our server told us that everything but the salmon was smoked on site.

It was beautiful and delicious.

Leslie had the crispy duck, I went for the game duo of a venison chop and quail. Or as the menu says: Venison Chop Au Poivré & Lemon Thyme Marinated Quail and Crispy Half Duck with Sweet White Corn, Porcini Mushrooms, Sautéed Gnocchi in a Cherry Balsamic Reduction.

Both of our dishes were beyond delicious. We shared and loved each other's dish. If I had to be critical I would say the potato was sort of underwhelming but it was quite useful in holding up the end of the chop.

Leslie thought her gnocchi was a bit blah and perfunctory. But now we are splitting hairs. 

They brought us a candle in a strawberry with some praline candies to mark our celebration that was also not very incredible but hey, it's the thought that counts, we appreciate it.

We skipped dessert. Leslie wanted ice cream and had her heart set on An's Hatmakers Gelato in Del Mar, supposedly rated number two in the entire country. I guess they try harder. She had a roasted pistachio cup which she loved.

I was full from dinner.

I love Pamplemousse. I love the whales. I love my wife. I love you. There, I said it.

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