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Whales, Dolphins And Siri, Oh My!

Any question we are making good headway out of the drought was put to rest when my daughter Ally and I took her birthday trip to Monterey. Lush, green vegetation was prominent all along the route we drove to get there. The O’Neill Forebay, the San Luis Reservoir – just gorgeous to see all that water.

Ally turned 21 in February but we weren’t able to take our trip until April. She spent her actual birthday with her fiancé’s family and we had planned a special mother-daughter getaway for later, making reservations for a whale watching trip out of Monterey. Neither of us had ever been whale watching but we both love the ocean and that was what she wanted to do. Well, honestly, she wanted to go to Hawaii but that trip will have to wait for another time.

She had her trusty navigation tool for the ride down and Siri did very well; we had an easy, picturesque drive and got there in plenty of time to enjoy some shopping before our afternoon trip on the ocean. We did get to see sea otters, whales, dolphins, the cost was reasonable and the skipper provided plenty of information.

The whales were within easy viewing distance and my telephoto lens captured a few nice photos. The dolphins were a different story entirely; there were times we thought one might actually land in the boat – they were swimming alongside, leaping out of the water, they just seemed to be so joyful and put on quite a show.

Neither one of us got seasick and the weather was picture perfect, sunny skies, water not too choppy. We did both end up with a bit of a sun/wind burn – she got it worse than I did – but that ultimately was a small price to pay for getting up close and personal with the sea creatures.

It almost seemed like a trip from the ‘old days’ when she and I would be on the road for a tournament weekend, except we had absolutely no soccer games to worry about getting to on time. We whale watched, shopped, walked the wharf to feel the ocean breeze, had a great dinner at Bubba Gump’s. Even said hello to some folks from Escalon (she just reiterated that she can’t go anywhere with me that someone doesn’t know me) and thoroughly enjoyed our mother-daughter time.

We only spent one night and had a comfortable stay, a light breakfast before heading out for home. On the way down, we had seen some road construction and a major back up in the northbound traffic on 101 so we were careful to plot a different course home, so Ally could get back in time for her Thursday afternoon college Astronomy class.

Well, about 45 minutes in to the return trip, good ol’ Siri (who I swear was smoking something that day; it was 4-20 after all) told us she had found a ‘shorter’ route and could save us seven minutes.

We should have known better. Seven minutes cost us a couple of hours, since Siri re-routed us back to 101 but BELOW the road work we were trying to avoid. How could we have driven 45 minutes the other way and still run into it? I don’t even know. We couldn’t take the creepy crawly 3 mph speed – Ally was mildly panicked about missing class – so we got off on the Watsonville exit (the first one we came to, a mile and a quarter in about 30 minutes) and thought we could at least get on 17. Long story short, we eventually did get 17 but came out one exit above Santa Cruz, after driving for over two hours. That was one long drive home … whatever, Siri. Next time you find a ‘shorter’ way, keep it to yourself.

We eventually got back to the 209; Ally got to school in time to turn in her homework ... it all ended up working out. So we have some great memories of her belated birthday trip and a funny story to tell besides; everyone’s a winner.



Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.