Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another Day at Sea

Rumors that we had lost out on sixteen hours of travel yesterday were circulating the ship. The rumors were true.

The rocking seas from twenty-four hours ago were all behind us. No more were we hit by fifteen meter swells, averaging eight meters each time. No longer were bottles crashing to the floor behind the bar, or chairs zipping across the hall. Today there was just the gentle rocking of the boat, coupled with white noise, lulling passengers off to a sleep.

People were also walking about the ship today. It seems that most people managed to get the much needed drugs to counteract their sea sickness. I, myself, woke up feeling delightful and chipper. And the breakfast I consumed, much bacon, eggs, sausages, and hash browns, spoke very well to that effect.

While we were not throwing ourselves into walls with every step, we were still at sea. On all sides there was nothing but water, icy cold water. It seemed as if today was defined by meals. While there is no snack bar on board, one would hardly be needed. Every moment of the day seems to be only a short time away from the next meal.

There is a seven thirty breakfast, a twelve thirty lunch, a four thirty tea time (which apparently less about tea, and more about sandwiches), and a seven thirty dinner. Between these meetings of gluttony international, there were lectures held. Lectures about ice, and people who travel over ice, and how ice forms. Ice seems to be a common theme down here in Antarctica. And we did enter into Antarctica. Though we were still beyond the sight of land, the convergence was crossed. The two seas fighting with one another marked the entry to this continent.

Apparently there was to be a lot of wildlife at this point on the sea. From the end of one lecture, detailing the wonders that are penguins, we all headed up to the deck to see what we could see. Thirty minutes went by, and I accepted that there was going to be nothing. As much as my Boba Fett hoodie covered my face, keeping it warm, I just couldn't be bothered to peer out at the endless expanse any longer. Back inside I went, grabbing a book, and heading to yet another lecture. There will be a test.

Halfway through this piece on Shackleton, an announcement went off over the loudspeakers: Orcas on the Port side!

You've never seen so many people jump up so quick. I found myself running, hoodie in hand, waiting to put it on when I was up on deck. Wildlife is often fleeting, and I had no desire to miss out on seeing my very first whales. A pod of about twelve were surfacing, breaching, playing in the chilly waters. At any time there was at lease on pair visible. They seemed to split up from their pack, coming around us at all angles. Once I felt enough pictures had been shot, I simply started out and watched them.

It was a lovely, and wonderful, experience. And now when people talk about whale watching, and how I really must do it because – oh it's just so lovely – and blah blah blah, I can turn to them and say, “Yeah, I guess Whale watching near the North American coast line is alright – but really you MUST try it in Antarctica.” Take that ya bunch of hippies! Nothing like being able to shut down one of those people who starts every story with “When I was in...”

I will try very hard not to become one of those people, and use my powers only in the face of tyranny, for defensive purposes alone.

After the whales had left us, or rather we had left them – continuously pushing forward - I made my way down to the bridge. Having an open Bridge policy, people can visit the bridge whenever they want, to get a better look and understanding of what gets us from “here” to “there.”

Stepping in, the first thing I noticed was the collection of flashing lights, siren-calling buttons, maps, gizoms, gadgets, and educational posters. It was tempting to touch all sorts of things that, probably, wouldn't make all that big a difference – but you never know. But oh the temptation to press the big shiny red button. To control said urge, I made sure to press the big red buttons inside the ship, which just open the doors to allow access between one hallway and another.

In no time at all it seemed that dinner was called. Once more we headed up to the dining room, and began to chow down. Comparing my appetite of today to that of yesterday really impressed upon me, and those that I have been eating with, how much better I was feeling today. Whatever drugs the doc gave me? Definitely making this a much more delightful trip.

Once dinner was at an end, it was off to the lounge, to watch a movie about the Arctic, and the Antarctic. It was an episode from the BBC Blue Planet documentary series. I managed to make it through the Northern half, but by the time they were talking about the South, I was fading in and out of consciousness. What type of sick person gives you a big meal, then welcomes you to sit in comfortable chairs, only to then turn the lights off, and play the soft voice of a British narrator? How could anyone possibly be expected to stay alert, and awake during this farce?

With the movie ending, and myself waking up by the sudden absence of the disembodied voice, I began – once more – to read. I made it a mission to finish by novel, the title of which as Dirk Gentry's Holistic Detective Agency. I believe that's the name, at any rate – I may have misspelled Dirk's last name. As far as books go? It was somewhat silly. Things that happened in the first chapter were never brought up again later in the book. Characters of seeming importance all but faded from existence. It seemed a very sloppily written piece, but interesting nevertheless. I'm sure that The Hitchhiker's Guide is a more fantastic piece of writing. I'll look into that in the future, I'm sure. I've been trying to read it for over half a decade, but now – now I'm sure I will.


With one book done, I looked towards the next. While my heart was dragged towards Jurassic Park, I knew that there was one book that I had to finish – ST:DS9: The Never-Ending Sacrifice. The reason for this being that I want to off-load it in San Francisco. It's one of the few books I'm reading on the road, that I have no desire to toss away. Painfully I have the whole series and it would be oh so lacking with one text missing. With that decision decided, I slipped into bed, and looked out the window at the rocking waves, sending me slowly off to sleep.

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