Lame Adventure 355: She Swims with the Fishes

Recently I mentioned to Greg, my sidekick at The Grind:

Me: My arthritic left knee has not been hurting me lately, but my right elbow has been killing me.

He pondered this and suggested:

Greg: Maybe you’re favoring your knee with your elbow.

Three weeks ago, my knee was motivated to regain complete function when I was standing on Rodeo Beach at the Marin Headlands in the San Francisco Bay Area with my longtime friend, BatPat. We were waiting to be attacked by a hungry California sea lion because I was wearing a sweater that resembled a delicious looking squid.

BatPat:  That’s not true!  Tell your seven loyal readers what really happened!

For fifty weeks of the year, I am an extreme city slicker here in New York, the slickest of cities.  The closest I get to nature is when I see someone out walking their dog, or notice a rat in the subway tracks, a squirrel climbing a tree or the unofficial Gotham City bird, the pigeon, strutting its stuff.  I’m completely fine with these fleeting encounters with pampered pooches and standard urban wildlife.

"Cinnamon raisin bagel, my favorite!  Yours, too, perhaps?"

“Cinnamon raisin bagel, my favorite! Yours, too, perhaps?”

For two weeks of the year, one in December and another in June, I visit my family and BatPat and her family on the West Coast.  For the thirty-five years I have known BatPat she is forever forcing me to commit extreme acts against my glass, steel, concrete and soot-flecked nature such as going on a hike.  On a dirt path.  Surrounded by trees.  Places where the woodpeckers are not animated.  On my most recent trip West, she suggests:

BatPat:  Let’s go to the beach!

Yay, the ocean where we can go cartwheeling and get hypothermia!

Yay, visit the cold ocean where we can go cartwheeling and pull a groin muscle!

Me:  Why?  It’s colder there than the inside of a refrigerator.

BatPat:  We can see the ocean, not splash around in it.  It’ll be nice.

I suggest a compromise solution:

Me:  Can’t we just look at it from the car?

BatPat:  Let’s go to the Marine Mammal Center.

Since it’s not my nature to be difficult, I groan my approval of this idea and begin craving fish for dinner.

The Marine Mammal Center entrance.

The Marine Mammal Center entrance.

No sooner do we step out of the car to enter the center than a marine mammal rescue worker comes running towards us.  Instinctively I think she may have mistaken my Jack Purcell badminton shoes for flippers so I assure her:

Me: I feel fine.

Marine Mammal Rescue Worker: We’re releasing a sea lion right now. Follow me to the beach!

The Rescue Worker runs down a hill.

Me:  Please tell me that we’re taking the car.

We climb into the car.  BatPat floors the accelerator and we’re tailgating the rescue vehicle.

Hotly pursuing a sea lion.

Hotly pursuing that pinniped (fin-footed mammal).

We park and join the cluster of fellow sea lion stalkers that gather to witness the release.  The ocean is rough and so foamy that it reminds me of shaving cream, not to imply that it would ever be on my “to do” list to shave my gams with sea foam, but if offered a significant sum, I might use it on that patch of fur that’s sprouted from my lower back.

Real deal sea foam.

Industrial strength sea foam.

On foot, we follow the crate carrying the sea lion, a female that was either injured or ill, but has since been nursed back to health at the state of the art facility.

Riding in style.

Riding in style.

The rescue workers roll the crate down to the beach and prepare for the rehabilitated animal’s release back into the wild.

"All eyes are on me!"

“All eyes are on me!”

The workers hold rescue shields, and stand in formation — two rows that the animal, if everything goes according to plan, will waddle between straight to the sea for supper.  Before the door to the crate is opened a rescue worker makes an important announcement:

Important announcement time.

Important announcement time.

Rescue Worker: If she charges you, run.

I turn to BatPat who is watching the sea lion’s cage as if in a trance and give my own advice:

Me:  Maybe it would behoove us to get a head start and run back to the car now.

Just as I am loading the reel with the story of my life in my head so it can flash nicely before my eyes as I’m being chewed to pulp, the cage door opens.  The sea lion follows protocol and waddles between the rescue workers with dignity.

"Hello everyone!"

“Hello everyone!”

She moves down the sand with such style and grace, if I were a talent agent I’d be inspired to sign her on the spot to appear on Dancing with the Stars – and partner her with Michael Phelps.

"Is that supper I smell?"

“Is that supper I smell?”

She has plans of her own and chooses to return to the sea that is her home.

rolling in the deep

Now we see her.

Now we don't.

Now we don’t.

Lame Adventures-style buffoonery aside, The Marine Mammal Center is a wonderful Northern California institution to visit if ever in the area.  Click the hyperlink to check out their web site to learn more about their commendable work rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and seals.

95 responses to “Lame Adventure 355: She Swims with the Fishes

  1. I imagine these bountiful joys will lead to more trips there in your trips west! … sure they will! 😉 … but through all the groans and complaining, I sensed your smile at the end …. which was quickly dashed during the walk back to the car.


    • Being around for a sea lion release, Frank, was a fluke since it’s not something that they announce on their web site. I actually have been there once before … Okay, when my niece, who is now pushing 19, was 3. They’ve significantly upgraded the facility.


  2. Beautiful story V. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 xo


  3. V,
    What a wonderful story! And she healed your knee!
    Those releases are amazing. Peter and I got to witness the release of a rehabilitated Bald Eagle a couple of years ago. It’s a feeling like no other.
    Thanks for a great post. I loved it!


    • Cathy, I’m not sure if she healed my knee, but I’ve been craving fish ever since I witnessed her return to the sea. Maybe I was a sea lion, or more likely, a sea weasel in a past life? It was a thrill to see her waddle home, but she’s tagged so if she ever needs rescuing again, The Marine Mammal Center has a file on her. I wish they were my doctors!


  4. V, this was so great. This has Freshly-Pressed written all over it. Word Press, are you listening???!!! What a great adventure you had while in San Fran (do people from there hate it when people call it that? Let me know because I don’t want to repeat it if it’s a faux pas). I love nature and love to witness these “miracles” but I’m like you, give me warmth, electricity and running water soon after. I could point out so many things that were hilarious but then I’d be quoting nearly every sentence. Great, just great and hope you saved some of that sea foam. You never know when you might run out of Gillette Satin Care.


    • Thanks for the high praise Brigitte. When referring to SF, just don’t call it Frisco. Usually, this Manhattan barnacle is never around to witness events like a rescued animal release back into nature. Once I arranged my own. I felt pity for a ladybug that got into my apartment and let her fly out my window. She was probably promptly eaten by a bagel-pecking pigeon.


  5. Really nice story, the head start was not a bad idea at all, luckily it wasn’t necessary.


    • Our timing to witness that release was very lucky, a word not generally associated with my life. Had we arrived five minutes sooner or five minutes later, we probably would have failed to get the memo. Thanks for visiting Lame Adventures-land again!


  6. Great post of course.
    Thanks for the tip on how my family can transport me to the beach. Such a great idea! Your blog is not only well-written and very interesting, but informative too!


  7. A very un-lame Lame Adventure if ever I’ve read one! This story had humor, tenderness, action, and a hint of mystery–all seasoned wih your trademark wit and self-deprecation (and little of the infamous snark).

    Have you ever considered writing?


  8. I think Lame-O left her heart in San Francisco! You really need to get out of that cubicle and write full time! Outstanding story beautifully written!


  9. That is so cool that you got to witness this!


  10. If you ever get to Oregon, make a trip to the coast (beautiful in its own right) and go here:


  11. Ohhh I would have loved to see that! Shame I live just a little far away to visit that place but luckily we have a few similar places a little closer to home in the UK that I might go wandering off to.


    • It was a complete fluke that BatPat and I were there at such a perfect time, but The Marine Mammal Center is also a very cool place to visit. Seals and sea lions are such lovely creatures, at the risk of sounding a bit obsessed, I urge you to visit the marine Mammal Center on your side of the pond. Hey, thanks for visiting Lame Adventures-land and commenting!


  12. I’m so proud of you city slicker, gettin’ all out in nature. I like to look at nature but I don’t want to be right there in the middle of it but I don’t count the beach as nature b/c I love the beach. It’s not easy being an Oregonian who doesn’t hike or camp. I really should move to NY.

    Also, I forget, am I supposed to see Barbara or no?


  13. LA – great tale! I think it’s fabulous when rescued animals are released, but I don’t think I could do it myself… I’d become far to attached. What luck that you got there just at the time they were doing this!


    • I also have the capacity to grow easily attached to animals, Tom, but I’m fine with leaving the rescuing of sea lions and seals to the pros. Besides, even if I could rescue one or the other, where would I put it? I live in a New York apartment that’s not much bigger than a bowling bag. Considering that these are creatures that enjoy swimming in the ocean, they would be sucidally depressed if confined to my bathtub.


  14. If she charges you, run! hahaha reminds me of the time I went to our jr. college wild life sanctuary. Someone had picked up some geese as a pet, and realized (fools they are) they aren’t meant to be pets and dropped them off at the sanctuary. Well, on our tour, the man just finished telling us how they mate, and how territorial they are…okay, right on cue this thing came waddling, very quickly I might add, and honking loudly with it’s wings extended. The sucker was huge, loud, and fast…not to mention they apprently bite! The ten of us ran as fast as we could out of that area. He was nipping at our rears!


  15. We had a bear visit us a month ago and mad rumors of mountain lions– but no sea lions, you lucky city slicker. Not So Lame O Adventure — as a matter of fact this was quite fabulous and you wrote buffoonery which will always make me giggle


  16. Always love your posts and this one was especially interesting! I was wondering if you have a facebook “page” also?


    • Sherri, I am quite the FB laggard. I’ve been intending to revise my presence there for months or maybe it’s been years so possibly I’ll get around to doing just that in 2013. You can find me there under the fake name, Nancy Kulp, a closeted lesbian icon from yesteryear, or if you prefer, follow me on Twitter: @LameAdventures. I’ve been known to post tweets every other month. Thanks for visiting Lame Adventures-land!


  17. That is such a great thing to witness. You’re fortunate to be there at the right time. Marin has some amazing sanctuaries and people doing some great work.


  18. What a great sighting! It does pay to go outside sometimes I suppose. I think you should pitch “sea lion dancing with the stars” because I would totally watch that. I am also gratified to know that should I ever have a sea lion problem, I can transport it back to the beach because I have that same dog crate.


    • Jen, it was such a wonderful sighting, I might even try going outside more here in NYC, even though most urban sightings here are things I prefer to forget such as on the way home from tonight the pile of dog doo I nearly stepped into until a woman advised, “Watch out!” Nice to hear from you!


      • Who says that there are no good people in the world? Some lady saved you from buying new shoes!

        I was excited to see that you were back to blogging, but I was short on internet being all Disney-fied for a few weeks. Man, the things you’ll do for kids.


  19. I’m highly envious. A very unLame adventure indeed…fantastic…


  20. Very nice! And I bet she doesn’t have a bum knee or elbow either!


  21. I loved this possibly-pull-a-hamstring adventure! Love it. That picture you captured was great. I’m glad you have evidence of the now you see me now you don’t. Very cool pics of the excited seal. My favorite is the “hello everyone!” and “Do I smell supper?” A very cool Lame Adventure 🙂


  22. People have often suggested that I check into a rehabilition facility myself. On the upside, I understand they feed you quite well and take care of your laundry–it’s being released by into my natural habitat that scares me most. Do they expect me to be self-sufficient after weeks of pampering and brain laundering? Glad your knee is better. I suggest twelve ounce curls for the elbow. You’ll forget all about that nasty pain.


  23. I would have been sobbing, watching that little girl go into the surf. I hope she has a good, safe and happy life.


    • The Marine Mammal Center tagged one of her flippers so if she does run into trouble again, and they’re able to come to her rescue, she will be okay. They have rescued the same mammals more than once, for various reasons. One of the problems seals and sea lions face daily is all the trash such as plastic bottles and plastic caps polluting the sea. That kind of garbage does not break down. They have a huge monument made out of a giant tangle of ocean trash that a whale ingested. The whale ended up buying its rainbow from that literal junk food diet.


  24. I’ve been feeling a bit like a sea mammal myself recently–though manatee is more like it. Hope I’ve not missed more than this post, V! I’m hopelessly behind–in more ways than one!


    • If it makes you feel like you’re in good company, the adult male elephant seal can weigh up to 4,500 pounds … As you well know, I am not a posting machine, so you’re now completely up to date with reading me. I’m still swamped trying to finish My Manhattan Project. I hope things are going well on Your Ecuador Project. I understand priorities, but of course, I’m glad that you made the time to visit my site. You’re a loyal bud, Kathy!


  25. I truly appreciated this post and I KNOW you have other irons in the fire…but what’s up? Have you not experienced any Lame (even of the permafrost variety) adventures?

    Since your last post D1 has pulled the trigger to announce that she will be attending he University of Pittsburgh. I KNOW you are pleased that she has eschewed those 2 Catholic schools in Chicago. I suffered the defeat of my beloved Patriots last Sunday. Mr. Obama was inaugurated again. And Ifor enjoyed the 2nd colonoscopy of my life. Actually a lot less fuss than the 1st one. I truly do have a great GI guy in Montclair.

    Hope all is well on the UWS.


    • Gee Wingman, what a relief that you’re compelled to announce that enjoyed your second colonoscopy and that your daughter has selected a university that scores a hit with heathens like me on this site.

      Life is fine on the UWS, but I’ve been swamped at The Grind with Elsbeth and after work, Milton and I have been busy trying to finish My Manhattan Project.

      LA-worthy events happen to me on a near daily basis since all I have to do is walk out the door to encounter one. My workplace colleagues who have been my sounding boards forever particularly enjoyed a tale I barked at them yesterday.

      I hope to publish something sometime next week. Stay tuned.


      • Not sure how I feel about your use of the word compelled. But I guess it’s a fair characterization.

        Yep, as colonoscopies go this one was a breeze. Like wind breaking under the sheets. Which my nurse and doctor not only said was okay, but it was encouraged. You don’t have to ask me twice!


  26. Not sure how I missed this post. Like Rockets Redglare, BatPat is another cool, vaguely super-heroish name (but unlike RR, not at all strippery). You clearly have your own posse of Super Friends.

    The story of you and your pal (and I’m assuming that you’re Robin ((or perhaps Robyn)) to her BatPat) at the beach was especially timely (twelve days later) in that I saw sea lions today as well. True, I see or hear them with regularity, but I don’t think about it. But today my in-laws were in town so we went out on the harbor and looked at those smelly beasts up close. It’s funny the local things you take for granted until a guest helps you to appreciate them. BatPat may be better about that than I am, but sometimes it’s neat to see your home country through fresh eyes (or semi-fresh eyes, as it was once your home country before you renounced it in favor of the tawdry glitz and bustling anonymity of the Godless East).


    • Since BatPat created her own LA name, Smak, she will be flattered to know that you find it “cool, vaguely super-heroish”. She truly is a Super Friend. I suppose at this stage in life I think of myself more as gay Alfred than Robin.

      We don’t have seals or sea lions here in the Godless East. We specialize in rats, pigeons and roaches — nothing remotely fin-footed over here.


  27. How cool that you got to witness that! Great pictures. I love the one showing her dignified stroll to the ocean.


  28. We rescued a sea lion at Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. Such a cool experience to release! Our little female rushed out to the water and then waited out in the waves for her lazy boyfriend to finally make his way out of his crate. They had been kept together through rehab and maybe stayed together? Such a cool experience


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