Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Logbook: Re-Entry

Re-Entry1We left Savannah early Last Monday morning and enjoyed a beautiful day, with the Atlantic Ocean treating us to calm seas and brisk following winds. We all swapped stories of our brief time on shore and there was a great deal of goodwill among passengers, officers and crew. In anticipation of disembarking in Philadelphia, I did some laundry, packed my gear and spent time with my various friends. The seas and winds started picking up during the evening and became quite heavy overnight. I was up early on Tuesday due to the rough ride and spent much of the morning on the bridge, at times quite in awe of the massive exchange of energy that occurs when a 38,000 ton ship pitches into a 20 foot high wall of water! The Captain had us throttled back to about 50% power, but even at that greatly reduced speed the sudden fore/aft decelerations from what really amounts to a collisions with waves was a bit unnerving -- much, much different from normal rolling and pitching on sea swells. The seas calmed a bit late in the afternoon and we were able to resume most of our normal speed to approach Philadelphia. We picked up the pilot around 9pm and were about half-way along the 7 hour river approach to the port when I hit the rack for my last night of sleep on board ship.

Re-Entry2I woke up when the ship docked in Philadelphia on Wednesday, despite the fact that it was still dark and only about 4 o'clock in the morning. I didn't even try to go back to sleep, opting instead to get coffee and spend some final time with my friends on the night shift. I finished packing my gear and stayed on board just long enough to have breakfast and say my farewells before heading down the gangway and out of the port. I had decided that unexpectedly finding myself in Philadelphia -- only a short distance from where my folks live -- was too good an opportunity for fun to pass up, so I made an easy cab-train-cab ride to Dillsburg and walked up their driveway. I honked the horn on my Mom's car which got the attention of her dog Sasha, whose barking prompted my Dad to come outside and take a look. After chatting with him for a few moments there was still no sign of my Mom, so I went into the house then down the stairs to where she was playing solitaire on her computer and said, "Hey! What time is lunch?" As you might imagine, this surprise visit was pretty much a "10" on the Mom scale and well worth the effort. I spent a nice weekend hanging out with them on the farm, making a few trips to the local internet cafe and enjoying some really good doggie time with Sasha. Everything was exactly the same as it was when I was last there almost two years ago -- which was a bit of a surprise for me in light of where all and what all I have done in the meantime -- but my visit there made for a good "re-entry."

Re-Entry3Yesterday afternoon I took a train from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh where I had a few hours to walk around, stretch my legs and get something decent to eat before connecting on an overnight train to Chicago. My niece Jennifer goes to school here and she came into the city after her classes were finished and we had a fantastic afternoon. We had a late lunch then walked all around over the place, saw the sights, took a ride on the famous Ferris Wheel and even had a boat ride, all the while enjoying the same kind of lively, non-stop conversation that is the hallmark of our time and travels together. By the time we finished dinner it was well into the evening and we were both pretty worn out, so we made plans to meet up again tomorrow afternoon -- when we hope to see the new Indiana Jones movie! -- then hang out, dine and talk well into the evening. On Friday I will board the two day train to Seattle and complete the last leg of my mission, the circumnavigation of the surface of the earth that has been The Voyage of Macgellan!

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