Gillian and Jer hoisting the American flag on the America as we set off on our whale-watching adventure.


Between a glamorous two-day photo shoot, luxe treatments at The Spa at The Grand Del Mar (detoxifying seaweed wrap, anyone?) and ogling movie stars (Eliza Dushku and Adam Rayner, who happened to be shooting the pilot episode of The Saint at the resort), we managed to whisk our Road Warriors off-site for a day of maritime fun.

Chef Alfie Szeprethy from Top of the Market.
Ryan Torres
The first order of sea business was a whale-watching excursion on a replica of the historic America, the world’s most famous racing yacht. (The America’s Cup is, in fact, named after the schooner.) With the ocean before us, the wind in our hair and captain Troy Sears at the helm, we set sail (literally — we hoisted the sails) on a four-hour adventure to find gray whales. As luck (and the outstanding skill of the crew) would have it, two and a half hours later we were spotting gleaming, crusty backs, rainbow-tinged spouts (a rare sighting) and splashing tail fins. Upon our return, we compared notes and estimated we had seen between eight and 10 whales in all.

Ebullient with the joy of seeing some of Mother Nature’s grandest creatures, we strolled down the wharf to the USS Midway Museum, where Scott McGaugh, director of marketing, was waiting to give us a personal tour of the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier commissioned just after the end of World War II. It served an unprecedented 47 years of service, seeing action in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War, before being decommissioned in 1992. As we listened in awe to McGaugh’s poignant tales of what life on the Midway was like, we couldn’t help but think about — and silently thank — the thousands of men and women serving in our armed forces today. During its service, the 1,000-foot-long, 2,000-room, 18-deck carrier served an astounding 327 consecutive days at sea. Later, as we stood on the flight deck observing the tennis court-size space in which a plane had to land to catch its tail-hook on the arresting wire (bringing the plane to a halt), respectful murmurs of admiration could be heard.

The sun setting at our backs, we bid farewell to the USS Midway and set off for our final destination: the renowned Fish Market, located just around the corner. Famed for its fresh fish and convivial atmosphere, the restaurant has been a staple of San Diego since 1989. No trip to the city would be complete without eating here at least once. We headed upstairs to the eatery’s Top of the Market restaurant and were immediately greeted with spectacular views of San Diego Bay. As the wine flowed and we dined on the likes of Ink Linguine with Sea Scallops and Prawns (one of the best dishes in the world), we reviewed the day’s events.

The consensus: Our oceanic excursion had been an overwhelming success.