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Traveler's Journal
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Miller, Cathleen
Date: Aug 26, 2001
Start Page: L.17
Section: Travel; Travel Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

Outside Port Alberni, a sign said it was 53 miles to the next gas station. I was on a lonely road, and I was traveling. As I drove, I thought about why I had left my husband and comfortable home to endure the discomforts of bad weather on strange, remote roads. The story I told myself initially was that I was searching for whales. But during the hours spent alone in the car, I realized that the whales were only the latest excuse for my restlessness.

Slowly, I suspected I'd entered some time warp to the '70s, an era I barely survived the first time around and was not eager to chance a second. The low-budget, pale oak furniture had rounded corners so that if someone passed out suddenly and came into contact with a chair arm, he wouldn't lose an eye. The waitress wore a miniskirt and knee boots with platform soles and three-inch heels. My ankles wobbled in sympathy. Posed at the bar, she bobbed to the Bee Gees.... "Uhhhh, aahh, aahh, aahh, stayin' alive, stayin' alive."

Within 15 minutes three of the behemoths were gorging alongside our boat, oblivious to our cries of excitement. They seemed to have no fear of the boat whatsoever and made no attempt to leave. In fact, as the captain pointed out, whales are as curious about humans as we are about them. At points Grice Bay is only 50 feet deep, allowing the whales to spy-hop. They pushed their tails against the ocean floor to lift their heads out of the shallow water-- to look at us .

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