Product Testing: Whale Watching with a Wee One
We test our gear on a variety of levels. Our Product Report: Synchilla Marsupial, “O” Web Belt, Women's Sender Capris, Kids’ Sky Serpent T-shirt, BabySynchilla Cardigan, Baby Puffer Vest and Kids’ Trucker Hat
Activity: Camping and Whale Watching, Northern California
Tested by: Michelle L., Patagonia Web Team
As I’ve gotten older my lack of sanity manifests itselfin different ways. Fifteen years ago my friends referred to me as the wild onesince I was always up for partying, loud music and any adventure life wouldthrow at me. Long gone are the days for too much partying, but nevertheless Iwill never let go of the adventure. This time, I decided to take my very newlypotty-trained 3.5 year old son on a camping trip and to go catch the gray-whalemigration out at Point Reyes in MarinCounty, California,all on my own. My husband was going to stay home and peacefully recover fromoral surgery.
I know the area well, as I grew up in
We arrived at the campsite, and my son was thrilled thathe had logs to climb on, “caves” inside of the trees to explore, and was on thelookout for skunks. I broke out a Fat Tire from the cooler, realizing thatrecently my bottle opener had disappeared from my keychain. No problem! I hadmy “O” Web Belton. I love this belt, but actually using the bottle opener is a bit of achallenge. I laughed a couple of times as there were people witnessing meunleashing my belt (with a small child around no less) in order to open a beer.Nevertheless, it does work. That evening I was joined by some old friends withtheir kids and I ended up taking a pretty good spill on top of a pile of logsnext to the campfire and, much to my surprise, my Synchilla Marsupial got a littledirty but it didn’t rip. I would’ve expected it to. But the true field testingwas to come the next day, out at the point.
We packed up our lunch the next morning after breakfastand Zachary put on his Kids’ Trucker Hat, with the LiveSimply whale design on it. “I want to see whales!” he proclaimed. The air wasstill and we hopped into the car. As we drove over the hill through
The drive was beautiful and we saw plenty of deer, cows,chickens and the views were spectacular. I could see that the fog was burningoff as we plowed further out onto the peninsula. Our first destination was thePt. Reyes Lighthouse. Zachary had downed some juice by that point, and my firstpriority was getting him to the bathroom. The only toilets at the lighthousetrailhead are pit toilets, and he told me several times he did not need to go.Being the naïve first-time mother that I am, I believed him. We started ourlittle .25 mile hike up the trail. We enjoyed the songs of the white-crownedsparrow, and admired dew on the leaves of the ice plant that the fog had justleft behind. The sun was warm, but there were blasts of cold as the bank wasstill burning off and sitting right on the water. My car gauge had read 59degrees. I had Zachary in his Kids’ Sky Serpent T-shirt and his Baby Puffer Vest, andI had on my Sender Capris(Ed note: Our closest currently available equivalent is the Inter-Continental Capri) and my trusty but dirty Synchilla Marsupial. We were bothcomfortable when Zachary announced he needed the potty as the stream poured outthe bottom of his pants. We were 50 yards from the toilets (with running water)at the top of the trail. We did at least walk to the end where the lighthousesteps begin (300 of them) down the cliff of the point. We could see the oceanbut the fog had not burned off enough to see any distance so I turned himaround and we decided to head to Chimney Rock.
As we reached the end of the trail, I noticed that thevisibility had grown worse, and the temperature had dropped considerably. Thefog was re-generating itself with the warmth of the sun hitting the water. Thegauge read 52 degrees at this point.
I got Zachary changed into dry clothes and put his BabySynchilla Cardiganon under the Puffer Vest. I will say the Baby Synch Cardigan is the mostversatile garment you can own for your kid. I have used this jacket for justabout everything, including snow-play and I will never go anywhere without it!And he loves it. The hood is essential, and became extremely important. Thewind was growing intense and that old nemesis, those icy-cold fingers of fogthat used to plague me as a kid were causing me to flashback to the '80s. Iwould ride my Honda Elite scooter overlooking
“Listen, Zachary, those are the seals burping!” Iannounced. That was all I needed to do to jar his interest, and immediately hestarted giggling. “They’re burping!” he squealed. We got to the outlook, wherethe fog was dangling over the cove, but we were able to see the seals playingwith each other in the water and sunning themselves on the beach. The belchingbecame louder and every time a seal made a “burping” noise, Zachary squealedwith delight and demanded that everyone around us join in on his fun. Hislaughter was contagious in the face of the bitter damp wind and the growth ofthe fog bank that was closing in on us. “That is totally awesome!” anothersightseer told me in response to Zachary’s laughing fit.
We stayed awhile but then scurried back to the car asfast as we could, with me cursing the old nemesis under my breath. As I buckled Zacharyin though, I could see the wonder in his eyes and the smile was still present.Having been battered by harrowing winds and walking around with soaking wetpants had not seemed to faze him. My lesson was to take in his wild spirit andremember my own, and relish in the adventure rather than what made usuncomfortable for a mere few hours.
[Photos, top to bottom – Morning at Samuel P. Taylor Park – Spying for gray whales along their regular migration route – Investigating a gray whale skull on display at Point Reyes National Seashore – Elephant seals along the Northern California Coast. All photos: Michelle Lesseig]