Yesterday I went whale watching for the first time. Amazing. Then, because the sun was still hanging hot in the sky by dinnertime, we got sushi to go and had a picnic. In other words, I had an extraordinarily good Thursday, and I’d like to share it with you now.
Dinner first, then whales. The whales! Those black, beautiful creatures.
Yesterday’s sushi picnic was provided by Bone Sushi on No. 3 Road; I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite name for a restaurant, but the place had character.
The owners are obviously well-travelled, as there were little sketches covering the walls of famous European and American destinations, and many of the rolls were named for places.
Take the Barce Roll, for example, which I assume was named for Barcelona, or “Bar-thay-lona” in Catalan, the pronunciation of which never fails to reduce me to giggles.
The restaurant only seats about 24 people, but a number of others picked up food while I was there, so obviously takeout is popular. We decided to steer clear of the sashimi, since it was still mighty warm outside.
We had the Barce Roll ($6.95), not only for the name but because it was filled with words I’d never heard of before: oshinko (Japanese pickled radish), asp (which I later figured out is just short for asparagus), and kappa (cucumber). The fish on top (saba, which is mackerel) had been seared, and contrasted beautifully with the crunchy cucumber, asparagus, and vinegary pickled radish. Hands-down, this was our favourite, and the roll to get from Bone Sushi. And guess what, on Thursdays it’s on special for only $4.99!
We also had the Sunrise roll ($6.95) which had mango, crab, avocado, salmon, and spicy mayo. Not necessarily creative, but just right for summer.
The third roll we tasted was the Alaska Roll ($3.95) which had cream cheese, salmon, and crab. I’ve decided I need to stop ordering rolls with cream cheese, because I simply find them to be too rich. It was good, but I didn’t really want more than one piece.
We also snacked on butter corn ($2.50), which tasted like canned corn and was ordered simply because I’d never seen in on a sushi menu before, as well as 4 pieces of gyoza ($3.50). The gyoza were pretty standard issue. Not the best I’ve had.
The moral of this story? For picnics, try Bone Sushi for their speciality rolls – especially the Barce. Then enjoy a satisfied snooze. If eating in, I’d give their sashimi a try, and one of their salads – perhaps the Scallop Tobiko? Also good for a hot day.
Sorry sushi, but the real stars of the day were the whales. I was invited to join SeaBreeze Adventures on one of their whale watching trips (can you say job perk?) and we set out yesterday afternoon under gorgeous sunny skies.
Since the pods of orcas are constantly moving, sometimes the boats have to travel far to see them, so we enjoyed a 2 hour journey to the bottom of San Juan Island to see the whales feeding in that area.
Moving through the gulf islands on such a clear blue day is therapeutic. We passed a few bald eagles,
an idyllic little summer camp where the kids sleep in tepees just metres from the shore,
and saw slow-moving sailboats, seals peaking out of the water, and plenty of birds circling overhead. Brilliant.
Then we reached the whales.
There are three pods – J, K, and L – that return each summer to the coast of BC. Tasli, our phenomenal guide, knew every orca according to its dorsal fin; she can name each one, who they’re related to, and how old they are just by watching as they surface. Jokingly, she told me “I’m not married, don’t have kids of my own, but I have 80+ babies right here!” She’s genuinely passionate about her work, and not only offered us plenty of interesting information, but also emailed me some incredible photos she took on yesterday’s trip. My wide-angle lens was not up for the job, so thank you Tasli!
The whales of J, K, and L pod are “Resident” orcas, and feed only on salmon; their variety of choice is Chinook, apparently. The males have to eat up to 300 pounds of fish per day to survive! Hearing that me appreciate how just a few pieces of fish draped over rice can hold me for an evening. 300 pounds of food is an exhausting prospect, especially if salmon numbers continue to decline.
Because we saw them from a distance and they’re often partially hidden by the water, it’s hard to get an understanding for just how large they are. One male that kept surfacing, however, has a dorsal fin that’s six feet high! We also got to see a few whales breach, which gave us a better understanding of their massive size.
I was a little worried the boats would infringe too much on the whales’ space, but they kept a healthy distance, and shut the engines off completely if any whales were approaching. That made for an incredible moment when one passed near our boat, slicing through the water and showing off its glossy back less than 10 meters away.
If you’d like to learn more about killer whales, and the J, K, and L pods in particular, visit this website for comprehensive information including conservation efforts and their status an endangered animals.
Thank you to the whole team at SeaBreeze for the wonderful trip. Whales and a sushi picnic? Talk about a good day.