Sunday, June 13, 2010

M/V Columbia-Beginning Second Day

Jim and Jan Carrell picked Mary and Nick up on June 11th at the Fairhaven Inn, near Bellingham, WA. Jim and Nick were good friends in college and have fished a little together. Jim is a retired mathematics professor at University of British Columbia. Jan and Jim met at the University of Washington fifty years ago. After loads of conversation and a great seafood lunch on the Chuckanut Highway’s Shell House, Mary and Nick drove onto the ferry. Um, that is, four hours after arriving in line, we drove onto the ferry, the last but one of all the vehicles. In the meantime, we saw a full fire truck and an eighteen-wheeler go on board. One reason for our delay is that we disembark at the next to last stop. Beyond that, who knows? The shape of our vehicle was a good fit for one of the last spots on the truck deck. In any event, after hoisting about 150 lbs of gear up the steel stairs, we met the Purser, who gave us the keys to our berth. Immediately after, the ship horn sounded and we were off into a gorgeous sunset and the glassy Sound.


We cruised up the remnants of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, enjoying a stunning vista of Mt. Baker. We had a poor meal in the dining room and went back outside. Before complete darkness we found the lights of the Port of Vancouver. We could even see lights on top of Whistler. A few porpoises messed around with the ship.


Nick, while on cigar duty, met Chief Johnny Ruiz, head cook. Like many professional cooks, he is a chain smoker. He has lived in southern California, Idaho, Utah, and now Anchorage. He bemoaned the shipping of water from Idaho to California during one of our state’s many dry spells. Nick apologized on behalf of the whole state. Johnny worked for seven years as the helmsman on a seagoing scientific sailing vessel, saying it was the hardest job he ever had. He got two weeks a year off, “not good for a marriage. Fortunately, I have a great woman, and we are still together.” The science was to examine volcanic fumaroles at the bottom of the ocean. He said that they saw unbelievable life formations, including many that live on a sulfur rather than oxygen cycle. To him, this dramatically opens up possibilities of life forms on other planets.


During a walk this morning, Nick met another new buddy, Marshall, on deck with his wife and four kids. His Dad is still asleep. Marshall finished his residency and fellowships at Stanford medical school this year, and is taking up his first job, in Anchorage. He is a pediatric anesthesiologist. His father, who lives in Utah, flew to California, drove a one way U-Haul back to Utah with the family furniture, then flew back to drive a second car for the family to Alaska. It sounds like he needs the sleep, since he is really old (one year older than Nick). Once the family gets to Anchorage, Dad will fly home.


An annoyingly efficient sound system carries all sorts of announcements, including into our berth. We just got the morning “Car Deck” call. Three times a day, passengers can return to their vehicles for fifteen minutes. There are many dogs on this journey and they are not allowed out of the vehicles. Given that some will be on board for almost three days, the owners are allowed to go down and care for pooch. The imagination creates all kinds of bad scenarios regarding what pooch has done in the truck overnight.


Nick had a nice exercise walk and a few calisthenics on an outer deck. Mary is doing the same at this moment, and then we will go for breakfast. The weather is deteriorating.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! What a great adventure. Keep up the blog! - Louis