A Whale Tale


Early morning in Punta Mita Mexico. The sun is rising over the hills of Puerto Vallarta in the distance.  Mangy puppies, grimy chickens and the odd iguana are coming to life in natures  symphony of poverty.  My wife, Thing 1, Thing 2, my dad and I are standing on a rocky foreboding beach waiting for our captain to arrive.  .  I come to realize that while vacationing in Mexico, one must alway adjust one’s expectations downward.  The formula is take the usual star rating system used everywhere else in the world and subtract two stars.  Out on the water now and our captain looks like he might be moonlighting from his drug cartel day job but god can he spot a whale!  We’ve seen four all ready and I haven’t even got my camera out yet.  They are every bit as majestic as I’ve always imagined.  We see it all, baby whales dancing around the mother whales, breaching whales, whale tails, whale humps.  I could go on but I’m sounding like the Bubba Shrimp guy in Forest Gump.   The seas start getting active and the kids are loosing interest in all things having to do with whales at an alarming rate.  Next they loose all color in their little faces.  We instruct captain kid to point our vessel towards shore to avoid chumming up the dark inky water.  I’m getting queazy myself but I keep a brave face, not necessarily for the children but so I don’t lose face with my father.  He’s a former naval aviator and has always been disappointed in my inability to handle myself on the high seas.   Quietly I know he now blames me for passing an inferior aquatic gene to his granddaughters.  We pull back into the the makeshift dock and aside from a couple dry heaves,  no real damage to the kids.  Back at the resort my dad and I compare photos and discover that our point and shoots have just enough shutter speed to catch a bunch of phantom splashes.  We decide to go back into town and see if we can pick up a photograph from a gift shop and pass it off as an original.

Off The Rails



 Whoever said rail travel is romantic must be used to spending Valentine’s Day picking out toe jam and watching professional wrestling.  I honestly don’t know why I thought my Amtrak exertion from NYC to Springfield was going to be interesting- maybe I’ve been watching too many documentaries about the railroad barons or something.  Instead of snow covered Vermont vistas and yuppies skating on frozen ponds, I’m treated to rural back yards filled with trash heaps,  ramped rottweilers and rusted trampolines.  It does makes sense I guess.  Why would the train go through the best parts of town anyway?  Just another example of how the rich get esthetically richer and hobo’s get a nice wake up call in the middle of the night from a blaring train whistle.  No wonder they’re always agitated. Hell, I’d stab my skankie travel companion with a home made shiv too if I were that sleep deprived.  The conductor just announced no more stops from Stanford to Penn Station.  Say it isn’t so!  All my Christmas’ coming at once and now I’ll only be 10 minutes late for dinner in the city.  The train just lost all power and we’re just coasting ever so slowly by another bum encampment on our way to complete stop.  If I were them I’d hop the train, take over the cafe car and gorge myself on stale pretzels and lite beer. Hey, what I’m I thinking?  I just might have to defend myself if I ever want to see my children again.  I look in my backpack for a weapon and all I can up with is the power cord to my iMac.  I hope they show mercy.