June 4th

Last night I had a nice dinner of a salad, chicken cordon bleu and steamed peas. I finished with the cheese and fruit. Swiss, Brie and a sharp goat cheese with a mango. I was tired without reason and went to the cabin and put myself in bed to read. It was warm under the additional blanket and the HVAC system here is now putting out heat instead of cold air. It really is amazing that this ship has a house on it. When you look at the ship, the house (or as the French call is “the accommodation” and the Engineers call it “the superstructure”) it looks small but it is very large and has 35 cabins, a swimming pool, a gym, a library, three lounges and the mess hall. It really is a house.

This morning I was dizzy and felt unusually weak. I had some coffee and a croissant. The healing of the mouth seems ok but the gum line has receded and I am sure there is more surgical work to be done before we can even think about the possibility of a bone graft. I hate having these problems with my mouth, it has been an ongoing issue for me for quite a while. Deal with it. Not sure why I feel light headed but I think it is just too much time in the interior of the house and not enough air. I will go outside and breath deep. It is still cold and windy, less than yesterday but still lousy conditions with visibility of about a mile with fog and mist. I guess this is Alaska weather?

It is odd that we do not change the time today, we do Sunday again tomorrow (I think of the movie Groundhog Day where the day remains the same). We will change the time tomorrow for another hour. The body has a hard time with these small hourly time changes. Add to that our position in the far North where there really is no darkness to speak of and it is really difficult to adjust your body clock. The sun never really sets, it does get dark but not like night and then only for about 3 hours. At midnight, it is the same brightness as it is at noon. I say brightness because we have not seen sun for days and it may be another couple of days before we do.

Today I have been invited to the Officers Table for lunch and a stop by the lounge prior to lunch for a drink. This is a Sunday special invitation and I think it happens for me once on the voyage. I really am not feeling normal and not sharp and would have much rather been 100% for this special invitation. I have been traveling now for 17 days and I guess there will be days when you don’t feel like yourself. The reality is that I have not felt “normal” for the better part of this trip and that I will have some regret over. An old woman, somewhere near 90 once told me that “getting old is not for sissies”. I think she had some wisdom.

I went the Officers Lounge today at 1145, wow. Nice place, big screen TV, PlayStation, Wi, nice sound system and a full bar. Decorated in Asian theme, very nice. We then went to lunch and I was able to discuss and have nice conversation. I learned that lunch is 2 hours in France. Check.

We had prawns in curry sauce, steak in caper crème sauce, frites and the Magnum ice cream bar. The Captain pulled a nice bottle of wine from the store, an Australian Shiraz and we had a nice Sunday meal. I am going to take a nap. Too much food for lunch.

I went out on the deck and chilled myself sufficiently, it is still cold and windy. We just passed the Kamchatka peninsula of Russia and have set course for the Aleutian Islands, where we slide through a strait and then on to Seattle. We still have 7 days to arrive. I am sure the weather will be cold and windy all the way, I just hope we get some better visibility when we go past the islands.

 

While out on the deck today I spotted some whales, I did not take a photo because they were about 200 yards from the ship and they were just cruising along. No flukes or backs exposed, just blasts of spray as they came to the surface. I could not identify the species but they were not very big, as whales go. Not much but I have only seen some solitary birds the last couple of days and seeing some life was super cool today. There are some small birds that land on the ship and go directly under the desk lights to scavenge any dead insects and moths that perished the night prior. Seeing the whales today excites me for the island that are ahead.

Tonight, we will have a quiche appetizer (which I really enjoy), salmon with a butter sauce and rice. I am not too good at French and there is something different about the rice, not just white rice but I don’t understand the menu. At lunch, we get a menu with lunch and dinner for the day and notes that we need to be aware of. I took some photos to share when I return. It is all in French. Why couldn’t it have been in Spanish? You grow up in SoCal, you take Spanish in school. Dianna took French in school. Maybe she can read the menus for me when I come home. What good is French in SoCal? I think all kids today should learn Mandarin, this is going to be the next global language, Chinese will be the language for the younger ones to know. Not French. Probably not Spanish.

I am now sitting in the lounge, charging my computer and drinking a Coke out of a coffee cup. I am actually hopelessly addicted to drinking from a straw when I drink from a can, despite everything that is said about how bad it is for you. However, straws failed to make my list when packing so drinking from a coffee cup is still far better than a cold can on my lips, I have never liked that. I always think to myself, “you never know where that can has been”. I think the only thing I don’t mind drinking from a can is a cold beer.

I really have not felt great all day today, the surgery sutures are coming loose a bit and tugging at the inside of my gums. Things actually look pretty good in there but hell, I have no idea what I am looking at, it still looks like something left on a plate after a barbeque. I am sure my periodontist will be interested to see what went on in there for the last month. I actually have a tooth that is causing me grief in the back of my mouth on the same side. My ear aches and I have this popping sound in my jaw. This happened to me once before and I ended up in the root canal chair with a nasty infection. Like I said, I have a high tolerance to pain and so when I do become aware it is usually a lousy outcome and an expensive trip to the root canal man, who knows me by name. Crap. I am taking some ibuprofen but like everything else when you are hurt, this really only bothers me when I try to go to sleep. Why is that? Your still, there is quiet, the bed is comfortable. This seems to be when the aches and pains decide to come raging up to the surface. I have a couple of those kick ass pain pills I received after the surgery, the Norco tablets but I am saving those just in case the pain worsens. I still have a week to go.

I spent some time with the Chief Engineer today after lunch, he asked me probing questions about boats I spent time on and how the engine room work, the steering gear, the fuel systems, the reduction gears and other things in the engine room. He seemed very surprised that I had a pretty firm grasp on all this mechanical talk and then invited me to visit the engine room on this monster. Inside I was jumping up and down. We have a visit for Wednesday in the afternoon. The scale of the engine room is enormous I am sure. I know they have 2 oilers, these are the boys whose job it is to make sure the engines, the outputs, the entire system is constantly maintained with oil and lubricants.

 

Since most of the machinery here really never gets shut down, keeping it lubricated and replacing what has been burned off is very important. For these systems, there is a series of alarms that either tell the oilers to monitor or act depending on the alarm code. I will be very interested to see all this and learn something about how you push an 1100-foot ship loaded to capacity through the water.

I see ships just like this heading the other direction from time to time and I wonder just how many container ships there are? This industry has forever changed the world and how we think of things made somewhere other than home. Imported used to be a big deal, it seems in today’s world it is the other way around. Now local is a big deal. When people think of imported now, it usually means cheaper. I can remember as a kid, heck as a teenager that imported always meant more expensive. I think today’s generation just assumes most things are imported.

I kind of like the fact that I am on a container ship and in simple terms, now I am imported too. I am human cargo among all the other cargo aboard.

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