IF YOU MADE THE CLAIM... that the sight of a whale's back emerging suddenly from the surface of the ocean didn't make you squeal, or shout with excitement, or squee, well, few people would believe you. In a world and time where all things are available, from the delivery of hard-to-find books, straight to your door, to weather reports for the smallest of burgs located across the globe, it is difficult to pinpoint those sights that still summon a sigh. The surprise sighting of a whale's blowhole, or fluke, absolutely qualifies, for any whale watcher knows such a sight is not guaranteed. If this is you -- if you unleash the exclamation points upon seeing one of the earth's largest living creatures -- then quite obviously you need more whale goodness in your life. One way to get it, even if you never set the sole of your top-sider upon a boat the whole time you're there, is at Dana Point's annual Festival of Whales. Of course, if you want to join a whale-watching excursion, you absolutely should, since late winter is still very much in the thick of the yearly gray migration. But many whale-y pursuits'll happen on terra firma, including a tribute to a gray whale named Lily, a marine mammal lecture series, an Ocean Awareness Day happening, and more merry mammal stuff centered around everyone's favorite water-dwelling superstar.
BUT THERE'S SO MUCH MORE... beyond those great events, from the Clam Chowder Cook-Off to a SoCal Woodies show to the famous Festival of Whales parade, which gets the two-weekend party going. Those two weekends are March 5-6 and March 12-13, leaving you plenty of time to both enjoy the doings on land, from the parade to the chowder to the art to the cars, and to book a ride on a boat, if you want some time out on the glorious Pacific. Will you squeal, though, when you see a whale? Even if you've seen 45 in your life time? Count on it: You likely will. And "45" wasn't a random reference on our part; this is year 45 for the Festival of Whales, which is one of the best-known whale-lovin' larks on all of the West Coast.