Tag Archives: whale watch

“York’s Wild Kingdom”, Maine — Largest Zoo Hereabouts — August 2015.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
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by Anura Guruge


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There was about 3 or 4 years in a row, starting c. 2007, when we used to go to “York’s Wild Kingdom” on an annual basis, usually on my birthday and at least once treating a bunch of local kids from Alton (NH) to a day at the zoo. Then other things like Whale Watches and Acadia entered the picture. Though she has been multiple times, and we have iconic pictures to prove it, Teischan couldn’t remember ever going to “York Zoo”. When Devanee is at Camp Teischan gets to go on two trips of her choosing to compensate. I rattled off a list of possibilities and one she picked was the zoo in Maine. So on Monday, August 17, 2015 we left early and got there sharp at 10 am just as they opened the gates.

It was a hot day and we knew that in advance. We were, however, surprised that it wasn’t packed. It was moderately busy but you could tell that it wasn’t crowded. That was good. Other than the ferris wheel with its cumbersome loading routine there was hardly any lines for anything. It was good in that respect. The heat, and I think it got up to 90°F at some point, also meant that the ‘Duck Pond’ — with its famous paddle boats — had a pungent “eau de duck poop” smell, but that was to be expected.

Exactly 3 months earlier I had taken Teischan to the Philadelphia Zoo. York’s Wild Kingdom is NOT Philadelphia Zoo.

The York Zoo is quaint and cute with its petting deer and the amusement park, but it is also old, dated and in someways very infuriating. Yes, it is very Maine and Downeast. None of the food places take credit cards. That is crazy. It has to be to avoid taxes! Places that don’t take credit cards when they should drive me nuts.

As a zoo it is a funny ol’ mixture. It has lions and two tigers and a fair smattering of other animals. The old elephant that used to be there a few years ago is gone. The enclosures are from the 1950s. Definitely not a modern zoo. That bothers me. BUT IT IS GOOD FOR KIDS. They love the petting zoo parts — goats, deer, sheep …

The rides are old and limited. The Ferris Wheel is an antique and they have to balance the weight of the riders which can be quite amusing in Maine. Teischan and I got called up ahead because they needed some ‘non-heavy’ riders. Funny.

It was OK. The heat didn’t help. But Teischan had fun. I tried the baseball batting cage — a first for me. It was interesting. I connected about 50% of the time. Took a load of pictures. I will try and share as we go along.



Ocean Park, Maine, The Genteel Part Of Old Orchard Beach – Where We Went On Father’s Day.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


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Ocean Park, Maine, as shown in Google Maps satellite images — ‘X’ marks the spot where we sat. More or less same place as last year. Click to ENLARGE.


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>> Rockland, Maine, Breakwater Lighthouse … — Nov. 19, 2012.


This could, like going whale watching on my birthday in September, could become an annual family tradition — this one to do with Father’s Day.

Last year Deanna wanted to go to the beach, in Maine, for Father’s Day. So we set off for ‘Old Orchard‘ — that being the ‘closest’, acceptable beach to us in ME. However, while driving around, rather serendipitously, we stumbled upon ‘Ocean Park‘. Wow. The non-commercial side of ‘Old Orchard’. Suited us down to a ‘T’. So that is where we camped out for the day though later on in the afternoon, on the way home, we cruised through the commercial heart of ‘Old Orchard’.

We went again this Sunday, Father’s Day.

The weather was nowhere near as nice as it was last year. It was ‘warm’, but very overcast the ocean a very angry gray. Suffice to say the beach was not crowded and most folks were bundled up. Very few people in the water — other than those in wet suits. We weathered it for 90 minutes. That was enough for me. Now that I have lost ~21 pounds I feel the cold!

It was fun. We walked the beach. Collected a load of shells. Ate. Drank.

Ocean Park is neat. A bit like a time warp. Very genteel and proper. Very staid. Very quiet. The kids had ice cream. Decent prices. Two cute shops.

We are hoping to go again next week for Deanna’s birthday.

The Circus Is Coming To Town; Barnum & Bailey, This Week, In Manchester, NH

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


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  We Are Going to Dralion by Cirque du Soleil at the Verizon Arena ManchesterMay 30, 2012.

I love the circus. Been going to them all my life and don’t plan to stop anytime soon (even if Deanna complains often that we spend way too much money on shows and that we should cut back); also want to make sure that the kids get to see them.

With the ‘Barnum & Bailey’ circus, at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH, we do the cheap seats — and have done so for 3 years with great success. The Arena is small and with the layout for the circus the $2x seats provide great viewing. This was more serendipity in our lives. Make a note of this. Barnum & Bailey has a very clever ‘Baby’s First Circus’ program. Register during the first 12 months and you get a voucher redeemable in the future. Deanna had done this when Devanee was born.

In 2006, during our constant visits to Dartmouth to do with Teischan’s birth, we discovered that ‘The Big Apple Circus’ came to Hanover. I bought tickets, for 2006, and took Teischan when she was but a few weeks old. Yes, I had to take her out, twice, because she was crying. But, the ‘Big Apple’ then got added to our annual list of events. Then Deanna remembered the free voucher. We went to the Verizon to claim it and buy 3 more tickets.

There was a catch. The voucher was only valid for a cheap seat. I looked at the seating chart and the cheap seats looked OK. So I bought 3 more. We went; we enjoyed, we went back. So that is the deal now. We go to the circus in Manchester in September/October. It has become another annual family tradition alongside: Chinese New Year in China Town, Whale Watch, Laconia Multicultural Day, NH Highland Games, Apple Picking, Sandwich Fair, Revels etc. In addition we always try and catch the elephant parade on main street. Having grown up in a country where elephants do roam the streets routinely it gives me a huge kick to see elephants walking in Manchester, NH.

The Red Apple no longer comes to NH! Shame, but was to be expected. I am surprised that ‘Barnum & Bailey’ still come. I have never seen a full house for them. I think they come out of a sense of community and duty. I thank them. It is a good show. They try hard. They have a pre-show where the kids can mingle with some of the performers and animals. Yes, they charge crazy prices for cotton candy but some of their merchandize is ‘reasonably’ priced. Teischan looks at the programs over and over again, so I always buy one; sometimes the DVD.

This year we got to see two Cirque du Soleil circus — our first exposure to them. They are spectacular and different. Some elements are the same as those in ‘B&B’. I like ‘B&B’ — and yes, I have studied the allegation about their animal cruelty, especially towards the gentle Indian(/Sri Lankan) elephants. I don’t know. Yes, all animal training involves some level of harshness. The elephants I have seen with ‘B&B’ look OK — and I can tell the signs of a mistreated elephant.

I recommend the ‘Barnum & Bailey’ circus unreservedly — just get the cheap seats and it is a ‘well worth the money’ experience. Enjoy.

Whale Watch with New England Aquarium Boston, on September 4, 2012

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


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Dim Sum In China Town, Boston — The UpdateSept. 2, 2012.

“I saw the tail. It was that big” … initial sighting, the whales close to another whale watch boat … that then took off. It was the distance that made the tail small, just in case you thought we had seen an unusual dwarf whale.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012, was my birthday, 59th birthday at that, and per the family custom (introduced by me ages ago) I get to chose what we do for the day. Last year I chose to go on a whale watch because I had not been on one in nearly a decade — and I really didn’t see any whales on that trip. So we went last year, out of Rye, NH, on a glorious, Sunny day. It was a huge success. We got to see 5 of the rare, endangered North Atlantic Right Whales. We saw 5 together. The total worldwide population of that species is about 400.  Then on the way back we had a huge, ‘brown’ fin whale swim alongside the boat.

So, I wanted a repeat (though Devanee, never that fond of boats was reluctant, especially as she threw up last year). So it was kind of agreed and we got motion sickness pills for Devanee (which the crew was recommending, highly, today). On Sunday we did Dim Sum as a prelude for the birthday — so the day was ‘clear’, albeit not in terms of weather or Teischan’s school. But, per another tradition, instilled in me by an uncle, a doctor who birthed me, I only celebrate birthdays on the actual day. The day before, the day after or the most convenient weekend might be dandy, but it is NOT your birthday. So we took Teischan out of school, a whale watch, an educational field trip by any standards.

Yes, we had rain. Not as heavy as in NH. We checked the weather, we called them up and in the end drove to Boston, and parked (validated for the whale watch) — around noon. The boat was scheduled to leave at 1:30pm. We watched the weather. I talked to people. We waited until the very last minute. I heard that they had seen two humpbacks on the morning trip. So I bought the tickets.

The boat was 10 minutes late arriving, so we left around 1:40pm. It wasn’t bad. It was gray but the rain had stopped. Teischan and I stood on the 2nd level, open platform for over 30 minutes going out. It is a twin engine catamaran and it sure does hoof it. It was fun. I am used to fast boats. This one was doing about 31 mph. For about 10 years I had a 23′ Four Winns on Winnipesaukee that would do 52 mph. Teischan, for the first time, demonstrated that she takes after Dad and her older two siblings when it comes to water and boats. Totally fearless. Up and down the stairs, with it blowing a gale, with her binoculars around her neck, with no hesitation or problems. Devanee stayed glued to a table. Very quiet. She even slept as did Deanna.

We first saw the whales around 3:25. Another whale watch boat was babysitting them till we arrived. I saw them from a distance. The 3 bows and a tail. Then the other boat took off — at speed and we had the two whales to ourselves.

Mother and calf. Humpbacks. The boat maneuvered around them for about 25 minutes. At least one of the two (typically the baby) stayed up much of the time. The mother would go under and then surface alongside. She was big and would always elicit cries of wonder. Teischan was mesmerized. She was going ‘wow, wow’. Devanee was impressed too. So that was good. It was definitely a moving experience for them.

I didn’t count, but I don’t think there were more than 40 people on the trip — on a boat capable of carrying 300, I think. So plenty of space and no jostling around. The sun actually came out when we were watching the whales. It was great.

We then hoofed it back. Deanna says it was rough. Where we were watching the whales it was 5′ waves. I asked one of the crew. To me that isn’t much. Other than way out, I thought it was calm. I have seen bigger swells in lakes in NH. I spent at least 40 minutes, by myself on the very top observation deck, looking straight forward coming back. It was beautiful. Coming into Boston with Logan airport to starboard. That used to be my second home for nearly a decade.

Good trip all around. I am already planning the whale watch for next year. Last year Rye. This year Boston. Next year maybe I will split the difference and go out of Gloucester. From what I can now see, boats from there have the most direct shot to the whale beds.

From the very top, where I spent the last 40 minutes or so enjoying the boat hoofing it back to Boston. Loved it.