Mendocino Majestic: The Whales of March

Spied a beautiful behemoth this season? There's still time at this multi-weekend party.

DO YOU SEE A WHALE... before you actually hear it? Or, if you hear something before you see it, do you hear the other people on your boat, or on the bluff, excitedly calling out a fluke in the distance? It isn't a riddle, or a competition, and there's no stress involved in the art of whale watching. But keeping both ears peeled and eyes open (or maybe the other way around) is essential as you go out on the ocean or stand and keep watch on a cliff, hoping to spy the behemoths of the Pacific, the mega mammals that migrate by our shores. Eye and ear and palate, too, are all entertained on land, as well as on the water, during the multi-weekend, county-big Mendocino Coast Whale Festival. This March-merry happening definitely keeps a watch on the waves, but the terra firma action, from art displays to special dining events, also ask visitors to stay in touch with all of their senses. The 2017 festival's opening weekend is...

SATURDAY, MARCH 4 AND SUNDAY, MARCH 5, with Mendocino out of the proverbial gate first. The Little River Whale Festival makes a splash on the following weekend, March 11 and 12, while Fort Bragg rounds it all out on March 18 and 19. Depending upon where you land and when, you might just find yourself at a chowder tasting, or a crafts fair, or participating in a 5K, or admiring an art exhibit devoted to nature. There are also boat tours, too, to sweep you away from the coast and to, fingers crossed, the whale highway, where a blowhole or two might be seen. And, yes, you can sometimes hear a whale the moment before you see it, if its amazing head-topping air-releasing passageway is within ear shot. Ever heard a whale releasing air in dramatic fashion, after a brief rise to the surface? It can be as thrilling as spying a fluke. Whether or not you see a tail, though, you're sure to have tales to tell after your Mendo idyll. (And, yes, one must always use "tail" and "tale" when speaking of whales, as they're magical beasties who inspire landlubbers to whimsical wordplay.)

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