This one involved a seaweed wrap. I was going for a terroir thing. You know, I'm on the ocean right now, I should be wrapped in seaweed. The seaweed itself was no longer in weed form. It had been dried, powdered and mixed with clay and something minty. With a little water, it turned into a soft paste that the masseuse spread all over my body, then wrapped me in tin foil. Unfortunately, it wasn't Pacific seaweed. It was from France, and thus the massage was not ocean-appropriate.
The captain politely turns down Greta's offer to steer the ship
It was a dark and stormy morning. The boat was heaving worse than ever, and I got up well before sun rise, opened the curtains and was met by an angry sea: frothy white caps, a howling wind picking up seawater and blasting it at the side of the ship, and a driving rain.
I couldn't sleep, so I grabbed my Sony Reader, which I loaded with books before leaving, and went up to the Lido Deck for coffee, convinced I was the only soul stirring on the boat. I arrived to find a collection of elderly gentleman already there, reading and drinking coffee. I settled down with a latte, a smoked salmon sandwich and my book and thought about the considerable pleasures of rising early.
Cruise the Pacific, listen to lectures on gas
turbines. It doesn't get any better
They have an ongoing lecture series here on the cruise. I attend them regularly. Today's was called "Jet Engines: The Roll of Gas Turbines in Global Energy Conversion," a topic my wife wanted no part of, but which I found gripping in the extreme. Did you know, for example, that the first jet engine-powered flight took place in Rockstock, Germany, in 1939? Today's biggest jet engine is made by GE and produces 127,000 pounds of thrust and weighs 20 tons. Among the smallest jet engines is one that measures three inches in diameter and produces 10 pounds of thrust. It is used mainly by radio-controlled-airplane enthusiasts.
The ship started pitching early this morning. We woke up expecting to see a fierce ocean outside our window. Instead, it was a vision of calm. There was a fine chop on the water, the conditions were perfect for waterskiing, and yet, amidst all this calm were big, gentle rollers that threw the nose of the boat up, and yanked it down again.
I am developing an obsession with the crew. Their lives seem substantial imbued with arc compared to the leisurely routines of the guests. Beneath their smiles and courteous nods, there is the aggravation and frustration of working life. There must be.
Every time we bring Greta out, the Filipino crewmembers crowd around, say hello and smile at our daughter. We strike up conversation. Invariably, each Filipino crewmember has three or four children they haven't seen in six months and will not see for another two. They will only tell you this if you ask, and they do their best not to seem sad. When Laura was getting back onboard in Hawaii, she saw the Filipino crew crowded around pay phones, calling cards in hand, waiting to talked to loved ones.
I received an email from my father today that concluded with the line, "You are a terrible gambler." My father knows me well.
As promised, I took yesterday's bingo winnings to the casino last night with the hopes of increasing my net worth even more. In a span of thirteen minutes, the afternoon's bingo jackpot of $140 had been reduced to $100 and I was so pained by my reversal in fortune that I refrained from another, no doubt equally calamitous, buy-in.
Between bingo games, I've found myself with a little time to respond to several questions and comments posted on the blog. Thanks all! I'm dedicating the next bingo win to you.
TimmaY: I have lost a day -- Monday, to be precise. But my guess is that I'm going to slowly gain it back as I make my way across Asia. I'm keeping the exact details for the trip a secret. Don't worry, I will reveal the reasons for this secrecy when all is finished. But I will tell you this much: getting across Asia is going to require spending a lot of time inside a train. Thanks so much for your message.
Walden15: You make a good point, but on this ship at least half the rooms have private balconies. And if I stick my head over the railing and take a gander down the length of the ship in the morning, I see no one else enjoying breakfast. You're right to be careful before casting judgment, but I think in this case I have stumbled upon a genuine sociological mystery.
Microbano: The cruise wasn't comped. It was paid for in full, which is Conde Nast Travler's policy. And Laura did, in fact, try to stab me in the eye with the blotter, but I blocked the shot, which is also Conde Nast Traveler's policy.
Breakfast at sea
Cruise ship life has a way of getting inside you. We begin every morning with breakfast on the balcony, which is one of the most pleasant breakfast experiences there is. Why all the other guests congregate in the buffet area when they could be sitting at their very own, private ocean-view table watching the sun rising on the horizon is a mystery to me.
Editor's Note: We interrupt Mark's cruise across the Pacific for more scenes from the California leg of his 80-day trip around the world.
If it's 7:33 p.m. on a Monday in New York, it must be 12:33 p.m. on a Tuesday
in the Pacific. Or is it the other way around?
A strange thing happened last night. Somewhere around midnight, we left Sunday and entered Tuesday. This implausible turn of events is due to the fact that we crossed the International Date Line, and no matter how hard I try to understand the physics involved, I am left perplexed. Monday, to paraphrase Lynrd Skynrd, is gone with the wind--and that's the problem.
Oahu. It has always struck me that Hawaii's most populated island was named after the particular yelp of excitement shouted by first time visitors. Perhaps this is why I envisioned several hours of euphoric tropical enjoyment during the cruise's all-too-short stopover on the island. Accordingly, I set myself the following itinerary: Dock at 10:30 a.m., take the shuttle to the Hyatt Hotel at Waikiki Beach (another outstanding name--Waikiki, not Hyatt) and rent a car. Drive to Hanauma Bay, go snorkeling, see tropical fish, return to Waikiki, sample two local delicacies: poke (pronounced "pokey") and shave ice, then hit the beach, where I would learn how to surf. Or try to learn how to surf. Or try to try to learn how to surf.
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