Saturday, August 14, 2010

Keeping Up With the Whales

This week our topic is what we do to keep up with what’s happening in our craft. I read all the crochet magazines and belong to a group of knitters and crocheters. I also like to check out yarn stores wherever I go. So, when I was in Pacific Grove this week, I made sure to go into the Monarch Knitting and Quilting store. Even thought crochet isn’t in there name, there is a sign on the door saying they are crochet friendly.

Stores like Michael’s and Joann’s don’t sell the same kinds of yarn independent stores like Monarch does. Monach had beautiful handwoven yarns, and hand dyed yarns you would never find in one of the chain store. I could have dropped some heavy money if I hadn’t remembered that my stash has become ridiculous. I did buy some eyelash yarn to play with. I’ve never used it and wanted to see what it was like to crochet. Basically it is a thin strand with long fine multi colored pieces hanging off of it. I still have some things to try with it, but so far it has been difficult to keep track of the main strand.

It was the first time I’ve been back to Pacific Grove since A Stitch in Crime came out. The book takes place at the Asilomar Conference Center which is in Pacific Grove, so it was fun to go around the area and picture things that happened in the book.

It was more like stockpiling experiences which could come in handy in some future story than keeping up with crochet, but I went whale watching while I up there. I was a little nervous before we left. I worried about getting sea sick or getting scared. The boat wasn’t that big and you go out in the Monterey bay to an area where there is an underwater canyon so deep, the experts don’t even know how deep it is. And it’s supposed to be bigger than the grand canyon. But I also really wanted to see whales up close.

There was a bit of chop as the person steering the boat put it. We seemed to be going against the waves and when we hit them, the boat went up and then down. It was cloudy and chilly as I watched Monterey get smaller and smaller as the boat went further and further out.

Two young men started getting kind of green around the gills and eventually threw up over the side of the boat. Since things are supposed to travel in threes and they were right next to me, I got a little worried. I also got a little worried when we seemed to be way out and there weren’t any whales. Would we be the boat that didn’t get to see any?

Then the marine biologist who had the microphone and was on the top level of the boat saw a blue whale on one side of the boat. The side I wasn’t on. By the time I along with the other people on my side got to the other side, the blue whale had gone for a deep dive and she said probably wouldn’t come up for awhile.

The boat was really rocking now and we were repeatedly told to hold on to the rail. I would have done it even if no one told me.

And then two humpbacks showed themselves. They came up to breath, but also to to eat. They feed on krill, which are tiny sea creatures that particularly like the cold water of the deep canyon. The whales force the krill up and then open their mouths above the water to take them in. Then the whales go back underwater with a wave of their tails.

From no whales we went to being surrounded by them. Every few minutes another one or two would make an appearance. The humpbacks seemed to travel in pairs. The blue whales were more solitary. In the distance I saw water shooting up from other whale’s blow holes. Close by I heard the sound of one shooting the water out of its blowhole.

Our boat was 75 feet long. The blue whales are close to 100 feet long. Their tongues weigh in the tons. Their hearts are the size of a VW bug. Their arteries are big enough for a child to crawl through. It was weird to think that these creatures were bigger than the boat.

I was so busy going from one side of the boat to the other to see all the whales, I never had time to think about being scared. As for seasick. I guess things don’t always travel in threes. Not even a twinge.

And then it was time to go leave the whales. As we headed back I got a wonderful view of the Monterey Peninsula. When I was writing A Stitch in Crime I always thought about looking out at the water, never from the water. It was neat to see Asilomar, the beach, the Pacific Grove lighthouse and the 17-Mile drive through Pebble Beach from a different perspective.

Have you ever seen something familiar from another perspective, like recognized buildings when you were in a plane or looked down on your house from a hill?


Linda O. Johnston said...

I don't live far from the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Betty, so I always look out plane windows to see if I can find my house. Sometimes I think I do, but it's probably just wishful thinking. How fun that you went whalewatching! I always love to do that.

Camille Minichino said...

Eyelash yarn? Please explain! I wonder if I can use it for minis.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, even if you can't pick out your house, it must still be neat to see the area from the air.

Camille, if you were going to use the yarn I bought for a miniature, I think it would only work as a tiny grass skirt. The actual fibers would only be eyelashes on a giant.

Camille Minichino said...

Thanks for clarifying Betty. The same is true of that "new" yarn that has extra threads. Very colorful but not suitable for minis.