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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Selfie Sunday: Wild Eagle Cruise

When I heard that Lake Coeur d'Alene hosts eagle-watching cruises every weekend in December I immediately knew two things: one, that as a bird lover, I needed to go the first weekend I could, and two, that I'd be going alone. Everyone I know around here is busy with school or family, and since I don't have either of those to occupy my time on the weekends, I embarked on the two-hour drive north to Idaho with my 90s alternative mix CD as my sole companion.

Two hours is a long time to reflect on where I am and what I'm doing. I'm starting to accept that being on my own is a reality of this Palouse living situation. I'm just trying to make the best of it.

But am I seriously taking the whole day to be alone on a cruise in Idaho and look at eagles?

When I got to the lake, I parked the car and walked over to the resort. I bought the tickets from a woman who asked how to spell my last name while my credit card was sitting right in front of her. This was right after she told me the cruise might have been sold out before she found the right button. I asked where I meet the boat but she said she'd tell me after she was done. She promptly forgot to tell me and I had to ask again two minutes later. After I had my tickets in hand and my patience in check, I walked down to the coffee shop I first visited when we stopped in CDA on our moving trip to Pullman. It's a different coffee shop now. The counter guy was rude and sold me a stale cinnamon bun. 

The people in CDA are snooty but not very smart. It makes me glad I live in a place where people are at least friendly and humble. You'll also never see an anti race-mixing rally in Pullman. At least I hope I never see something like that again.

Eventually I made my way to the dock of the bird watching cruise. I figured that since the resort also offers a Santa cruise for kids, that this particular boat would be filled with people like me. People who want to see wild eagles. Maybe some loners with books. An old couple or two, perhaps.

Oh, I was so very wrong.

An over-enthusiastic lady in a Santa hat greeted me at the dock. I stuck out like a sore thumb sitting at a table by myself with my Oscar Wilde book while families of 5 and 10 and 20 started to board, eventually taking over the rest of my table. There were babies spitting up and young moms that talked too loud. I got up and tried to find a quiet spot outside in the cold, but you couldn't go about 10 seconds without wild kids running past and almost knocking you over. 

The boat left the dock and the Christmas music started. Moms loudly asked Dads if they could please go to the bar and get the hot chocolate?! No, not that hot chocolate, that other kind? And a regular for the kids! All 42 of them!

Half an hour later we arrived at the eagle destination. A woman on a microphone pointed out the eagles as she saw them. "There's one right at one o'clock, swooping down," she'd say.

"Teeth! Show mommy teeth when I take your picture! Show teeth you silly knucklehead!!"

I'm straining to get a good look at that first eagle but I'm getting too annoyed. I move to the other side of the boat and go up another flight to the second level.

"Gimme those armpits! I'm gonna tickle those armpits!" 
"Heeheehee! HAHAHA!"

The guide says, "it behooves the female eagle to be larger, because she alone must incubate the eggs for 30 days nonstop," but I can't make out what the rest of what she's saying. The dad came back with the hot chocolates. There is too much excitement. I went back downstairs.

A few adults are blocking the window, but they aren't looking outside. They're in the middle of a conversation about nothing. They're just as bad as the kids. They give me a dirty look for trying to look past them. I don't bother with this spot anymore.

I go back outside and up the stairs again. Now there's a guy on a cell phone. He's talking loudly about his business trip coming up. I went starboard.

I found two guys that had binoculars and SLRs, who actually wanted to see some birds. I stood just close enough to hear them point out the eagles they saw. I could still hear the lady with the Santa hat trying to get a good picture of her kids with armpits and teeth. 

I tell myself not to let this experience mar my feelings about people and Christmas. But right now I don't like people and I certainly am not excited about Christmas. I'm not so wild about kids right now, either.

A tip for future eagle-enthusiasts: You can skip this whole cruise abomination and just set up shop along Beauty Bay. Christmas music optional. Just drive along the lake until you see the guys with fancy cameras on tripods. Pull over there. Bring your own spiked hot chocolate in a flask for your own measured amounts of holiday cheer.

When I saw them, I considered swimming to them and just leaving Oscar Wilde behind.

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