May 28, 2007

A Whale of a Weekend

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past three weeks, you've probably heard of Delta and Dawn-- the mother and daughter humpback whale who have been swimming in the Sacramento River. On Saturday, I decided to go see the whales for myself. So, the wife, kids and I piled into the car and let the trusty navigation system guide us to Rio Vista, home of the Rio Vista Bridge that you've been seeing on TV. The 90 mile drive from Palo Alto to Rio Vista was quite scenic. However, once you passed the furthest edge of the Bay Area, the scenery and towns started to look more like east Texas than California-- flat plains, small towns, old pick-up trucks and two-lane roads.

We finally ended up at Rio Vista and found a small landing at the base of the bridge, where an NBC-11 news van had been parked since morning. There was also a small crowd of 40 people, trying to catch a glimpse of the whales. As it turns out, we had missed the whales. They had swum north past the bridge in the morning. So we headed north along the west bank of the river to the ferry crossing and joined a small gathering of 50 or so families, all trying to catch a glimpse of the whales. It was a warm, sunny day and the perfect weather for a whale sighting. The local Cal Trans employee informed us that the whales were 30 miles north, close to Sacramento.

Once again, we headed north along the river, towards Sacramento. At times, the river got quite narrow, and we wondered how these whales ever got this far inland. After 20 miles or so, we gave up our on our whale-watching quest, and we decided to head back home to Bay Area.

Today's news, however, was quite encouraging. The whales have turned south, crossed under the Rio Vista bridge, and are headed towards the open Ocean. Hurray for Delta and Dawn!

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