Thursday, August 16, 2007

Logbook: No Green Lines

MapnogreenlinesFor those of you who haven't checked the map today, here it is. Most days, the map tells a pretty good story by what it shows. Today, it tells a great story by what it doesn't show: For the first time on The Voyage, there are no green lines on the map. There's nothing to indicate "where I'm headed next." That is because, you see, for the first time ever on The Voyage I don't have any idea where I'm headed next. Since I don't want the map to have to do all the work on its own, here's my version of the story:

I got the call last night that my beloved little Polar Star is still sick and remains in the ship hospital. My Arctic cruise has been cancelled. I am disappointed, of course, because I was looking forward to the journey, to seeing some of my seafaring friends again and to having another memorable time with my Mom. I will miss -- at least for now -- the opportunity to get above the Arctic Circle, the chance to see Polar Bears, visiting the coast of Greenland, meeting Greenland dogs and being in Iceland. It would have been a great time of exploration on The Voyage, and I'm sorry it has been cancelled.

On the other hand, this is also a remarkable moment on The Voyage. Because I scheduled the Arctic cruise well before I began The Voyage -- before, in fact, I really had a clear idea of making The Voyage at all -- it has always been something I have been heading towards. The truth is that everything I have done and everywhere I have gone on The Voyage has been influenced by -- at least to some degree -- by the fact that I had a schedule to be in Oslo, Norway on August 21st, 2007 to sail on the Polar Star. That may not seem like a big deal, but it really is.

You see, my original "design" for The Voyage was for it to be a spontaneous and free-form exploration, with my only guiding principle to be an eventual circumnavigation of the surface of the Earth. Since I have always had the Arctic cruise on the calendar, I have never been able to be completely spontaneious. To be sure, I have had a year of pretty unscheduled and unstructured exploration, but I've always had a certain place to be on a certain date in the forseeable future. Trust me, one thing I've learned very well on The Voyage is that "once you have one thing on your schedule, you have a schedule."

So, for the first time I am without any kind of a schedule and certainly without any kind of a "plan." I am now completely unstructured and, in a sense, The Voyage really starts now. Of all the firsts and starts I've had on The Voyage, this is a pretty remarkable one.

What, you may be wondering, has been my first act in this new unscheduled and unplanned milieu? Well, of course, I've made a plan! In talking with my Mom, we decided not to lose the opportunity to do some exploration together. For one thing, she has a very busy schedule and had already carved out the coming few weeks for travel. For another, well, we just have fun together and it would be too bad to let the chance pass by. So, we did some pretty quick thinking and have come up with a really good plan.

As you know, I love Scotland. I love everything about it. Although I was just "on hold" in Scotland for a couple of weeks, I didn't really get to do that much exploration. For one thing, the weather was pretty bad. For another, changing over my website took a lot of time indoors, on my Mac. So, upon hearing that the Polar Star cruise was cancelled, my first thought was: "Okay, I'm going back up to Scotland!"

The only part of Scotland that my Mom has seen is the city of Edinburgh, plus a very little bit of the southeast countryside from the train on the way down here to Newcastle to begin the Hadrian's Wall Walk. I'm convinced she would love the rest of the country as much as I do, so I suggested she fly back over to Edinburgh where I will pick her up and we'll head out on a road trip together.

Our plan -- insofar as we have one! -- is to head west to Oban and the Argyll area, then further west to the Isles of Mull and Iona. From there we intend to head north through the Highlands, over to the Isle of Skye and on out to the Outer Hebrides of Lewis and Harris. Another ferry ride will bring us back to the mainland at Ullapool and give us the opportunity to cruise some of the fabulous northwest coast to Lochinver and surroundings before heading southeast -- through my beloved little Pitlochry, I hope! -- and on down to her return flight out of Edinburgh. It should be a fabulous 17 days and I am very much looking forward to sharing "my" Scotland with Mom.

So, there you have it. One exploration is cancelled and another materializes out of thin air! Stay tuned for details from The Voyage of Macgellan!

No comments: