"" Writer's Wanderings: April 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Revisiting Antarctica - Iceberg Ho!

After crossing the Drake Passage, we entered the calmer waters of the Bransfield Strait and saw our first iceberg. It looked majestic in its whiteness against the deep blue of the ocean. And yes, when you see your first really big iceberg you do have thoughts of the Titanic. But we never came close to it.
A while later, we got our first glimpse of Deception Island. It is actually a volcano but the center, the caldera, is flooded with water. It is unique in that vessels can actually sail into the middle of an active volcano. The winds were kind enough to allow our ship to do just that and we explored the horseshoe shaped center of the island where one of our naturalists pointed out two stations that had been destroyed on the island by volcanic action in 1967 and 1969.

Mostly snow covered, the rock formations of the island looked surreal in the mist that enveloped them. I assumed the misty look was caused by some of the thermally heated areas of the water. There is not much on the island except for several species of lichen, a variety of sea birds and a small colony of penguins. 

Our first adventure aboard the zodiacs (inflatable boats) that would be our transportation for excursions ashore would come later in the day. Meanwhile, we would have our second safety instruction meeting. Our first of course was the usual life boat drill but safety aboard the zodiacs would take on a whole new perspective. This would be the most memorable drill of all my cruising days.

We sat in the theater and listened to the leader instruct us as to the procedure we would follow in donning life jackets for the zodiacs. Since we would all be in large red parkas that made it a little more clumsy to move, the crew would help us. The life jackets for zodiac use were inflatable. A crew member would hold one up for us. We were to put all loose items we were carrying in our right hand, pass our left through the armhole, then transfer to the other hand and pass the right arm through. The crew would insure the jacket was secured properly and we would be on our way. It was quite efficient once everyone learned their right from their left.
The extraordinary part came when we were told how the life jackets would operate should we have the misfortune to find ourselves in the water. As best I can recall it went something like this:
Your life jacket will automatically inflate once you hit the water. There is a light that is water activated and a whistle that you can blow on for attention. Should your jacket not inflate immediately, there are two pull tabs in front that when pulled, will inflate the jacket. Should that system fail, you can manually inflate the jacket by blowing through the tube on the shoulder. However. . .

Here our leader paused to be sure he had our attention. 

Should you fall into the water which is near freezing temperature and your life jacket fails to inflate by the time you try to pull the tabs and/or manually inflate it, hypothermia will have set in which means that the light on your jacket will only serve to be a guide for recovery of the body. 

A sly smile crept across his face. "Don't fall out of the boat."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Revisiting Antarctica - Ushuaia and the Drake Passage

All 500 of the passengers who were to board the Marco Polo in Ushuaia, Argentina, for the cruise to Antarctica boarded a chartered 747 in Buenos Aires. We speculated that either a timely booking or the luck of a draw snared us seats in first class in the upper section of the 747. Reclining seats with footrests that were as comfortable as the La-Z-Boy back home made our plane ride to Ushuaia very cozy indeed. Added to that was the special treat of a first-class lunch and we were half way to heaven.

Ushuaia turned out to be a small town resembling a frontier town like you might find in Alaska. On our return trip, we be able to explore more. We boarded the Marco Polo and began to get oriented to our home for the next eight days. As we sipped coffee on the open deck next to the empty pool, the sun broke through the clouds and warmed us enough to shed the light jackets we were wearing. How cold would it be on this cruise we wondered? While it was January, it was summer in this part of the world. Still, we'd seen pictures of snow covered decks on some previous cruises. But while we had the sun, we sat back and enjoyed.

The other question uppermost in our mind was how rough would the Drake Passage be? It was notoriously one of the worst weather areas in the world and reports of high seas and winds and the havoc wrecked on some ships make us a bit unsettled. Shortly after dinner, we were to know. The ship began to rock and roll and I'm not referring to the music on board. We medicated and went to bed.

Actually while we did not experience the "Drake Lake" as they refer to a calm day at sea, we did not have extreme weather. Our day at sea was spent listening to some of the naturalists tell us about the adventure we were embarking upon. On board were 18 experts in all sorts of areas that included history as well as flora, fauna, and ice formations. The ship which usually held a little over 800 passengers was only carrying 500 for this trip. The reason: labor intensive care as we visited the peninsula and restrictions on how many were allowed to actually set foot on Antarctica.

In the middle of the afternoon, we found red parkas on our bed. They would be protection against the elements as well as easy way to spot people on shore. It would be tough to get left behind by mistake. Anyone scanning the shore would certainly see a red jacket against the white snow.

The ship's roll became more familiar as the day wore on but of all things. . .that second night at sea was to be formal night. It would be a test of balance and fortitude.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Antarctica Revisited - Pre-cruise: Iguazu Falls

As part of our pre-cruise tour before setting off for Antarctica, we chose to visit Iguazu Falls which is on the border between Argentina and Brazil. We arrived early in the day and spent it exploring the falls area. Part of our tour was spent walking out on a boardwalk and taking in the view from the top. While it was an interesting perspective, the view in no way compared to the beauty of the falls as seen from below.

Iguazu Falls is actually made up of 200 separate falls that come together in spectacular fashion. There were lots of trails to roam that gave many different views of the falls. Some allowed you to get close to the rushing water and others let you enjoy the immensity of the cascading water falls.

The more adventurous of our expedition elected to go for a ride into the falls area on a small boat. The less adventurous of us watched from above.

Debate raged on about whether the falls should best be viewed from the Argentinian side or the side in Brazil. Since there was a $100 charge for a visa to go into Brazil for a half day trip, we opted to enjoy our Argentinian view.

After a short flight back to Buenos Aires, we spent the evening anticipating our flight to Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina where we would board our ship and sail for Antarctica.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Antarctica Revisited -- Pre Cruise Argentina

In 2006, we took an amazing journey to Antarctica. The recent series on Discovery, Frozen Planet, has been fun to watch because it has shown areas of Antarctica and the Arctic (which we have touched briefly) in seasons of the year other than when we would visit. The next few days, I'd like to share with you some of the adventure.

Our trip was booked with the Marco Polo (a ship that belonged to Orient Cruise Line which was sold to Norwegian and then tried to resurrect in 2008 but due to the economy, has been delayed). We opted also to take advantage of the pre-cruise tour which began in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Our hotel was right across from a steak house that opened early to accommodate tourists who didn't like dining at 9 or later as is the custom there. Since we'd heard about the amazing steaks Argentina is so famous for, we made reservations. Our party included Bob's twin brother and his wife and their mother. The restaurant was nice as I recall but the thing that sticks in my mind was the look on all of our faces when our orders arrived. Between the five of us, there was almost a half a cow on that table! The steaks were huge. And sadly, there was no way to keep them if we'd gotten doggie bags. Okay--I do need to say that it was also the best steak I've ever had.

Our tour of Buenos Aires took us to La Boca, probably the most colorful area of the city as the corrugated steel structures are all painted in bright colors. We also visited the square where thousands gathered to hear Evita Peron's speech and then we visited her tomb. There is a page on my website devoted to Buenos Aires and our time there. If you are interested in more detail, hop on over. For now, I'm closing my eyes and trying to remember the taste of that steak. . .

Monday, April 23, 2012

Books For The Road - Miracles & Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories from Doctors

Some people like to read in small spurts. Books that are collections of interesting stories are good for those who have short flights or little time or desire to delve into a long story while traveling. Miracles & Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories from Doctors by Nancy B. Kennedy is a great book to tuck into your carry-on for just such a trip. The collection of fifty stories are all from doctors all over the world.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this and thought that maybe it was just a collection of missionary doctors with ho-hum stories from the field. I was pleasantly surprised to find all sorts of stories and each with a different perspective. With each story I wanted to read on. What new adventure or inspiring tale would the next one hold?

Particularly touching was the story from Sara Cichowski, M.D., an OBGYN working in Kenya for Samaritan's Purse. It was a personal story of struggling to have a child--her own child. Anyone who's had difficulty keeping a pregnancy can relate to her story. We don't often think of our doctors going through the same types of struggles we do.

Miracles & Moments of Grace is a series that Kennedy has started. The first book was Inspiring Stories from Military Chaplains and the next will be a book of mom stories. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

This is for all you spitters. . .


It is time to get in shape for the annual spitting contests coming up this summer. Whether it be pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, cherry pits, or crickets. Crickets?! You heard me. In Wisconsin, there is actually a cricket spitting contest. The crickets are dead--frozen in fact, and is an annual event at the Jefferson County Fair.

The contest was won in 2010 by Mike Morateck who offered this advice to future contestants: “Pick a big cricket – the heavier the cricket, the further it goes. Put the cricket in your mouth, feet first on its back with the head pointing out because you don’t want the legs dragging on the way out. Then take a big breath through the nose – otherwise you eat the cricket – and let it fly.” By the way, his distance shot was 21 feet 2 inches.

If crickets aren't your cup of spit then you might want to try something a little more conventional like seeds. The International Cherry Pit-Spit will be held July 7, 2012, in Eau Clair, MI.

Perhaps a bit more aerodynamic are watermelon seeds. In Luling, TX, the annual Watermelon Thump takes place each June and people come from all over for a chance to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records and take home a prize of $1000.

In the Fall, pumpkin seed spitting becomes popular. Maybe it's because of all the pumpkin shell spitting that goes on in the MLB dugouts during the summer. The ball players eat the seed and spit the shells but in the contest that takes place each September in Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada, at their Pumpkinfest, the whole seed gets propelled. Last year's winner was Captain Jack Sparrow.

Don't despair if you feel you don't quite have a competition level spit. There's plenty of time to practice and there are even how to win a seed spitting contest tips at eHow. Let me know how you do!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Everything's Jumpin' at the Horned Toad Derby


Looking for some excitement this May? You might want to travel out to Coalinga, CA, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles for the 76th Annual Horned Toad Derby and Festival. How did I hear about it? My kids bought me a book by Peter Greenberg, Don't Go There! On the Lamest Claims to Fame list under Stupid Events is the Horned Toad Derby. But wait! After some research, I don't see his point.

If you go to a list of festivals, it tells of not only the derby but also carnival rides, a big parade, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, a firemen's water fight, deep pit beef BBQ (whatever that is), a softball tournament, and live entertainment (I'm assuming other than the toads). Now that sounds like a fun community festivity.

I wonder how Greenberg would rate the Mantua Potato Festival? Their big events include potato eating constest: chips, fries, and mashed, a parade, live entertainment, and a potato sack race in a sand pit! I'm assuming people race--not potatoes.

As summer approaches, festival season begins. What goes on in your area?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Giveaway: A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts

In celebration of the arrival of the "new baby", I'm giving away a copy of the Word Quilters' A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts: Stories to Celebrate and Wisdom to Bless Moms. The contest runs from today through May 5, 2012. It makes a great Mother's Day gift! Just scroll down and fill in the entry form. (If you do not see the widget, click on the title of this post to take you to the page it is on.) The more points you earn the better the chances are for you to win a copy of the book. Winner will be announced on 5/6/12.

Here's the scoop from the Amazon page:
A SCRAPBOOK OF MOTHERHOOD FIRSTS celebrates motherhood milestones in a collection of topics from conception to school days, and recipes to family fun days.

With nearly 150 years of collective mothering, Leslie, Trish, Terra, Cathy, and Karen combine common sense, heartfelt advice, and humor to encourage young women in their journey through motherhood. Through tips, stories, recipes, and memories, these women bring faith-filled words of wisdom and insight.

As they did with the previous book in their giftbook series, A SCRAPBOOK OF CHRISTMAS FIRSTS, these wonderful authors accent their writing with wit, humor, joy and a faith in Christ that every mother will benefit from.

About the Authors

Leslie Wilson, Trish Berg, Terra Hangen, Cathy Messecar, and Karen Robbins are a group of highly experienced mothers and authors. Each are columnists for newspapers or magazines, both in print and online, and have contributed to books including Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul (Health, 2006), A Still and Quiet Soul (Leafwood, 2011), I'm Glad I'm a Mom (Harvest House, 2008), The Groovy Chicks' Road Trip series TM (Cook, 2006 and 2005), Tending the Soul (Moody, 2011), and others. They are nationally recognized mentors, acting as guest speakers for MOPS, Focus on the Family, and ABC World News Tonight, as well as writers of popular blog sites.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Remembering the Titanic


Many of the places we have visited that were a part of Titanic's history, have memorials and historic places preserved to tell the story and remember those whose lives were lost. Southampton has a trail to follow with monuments dedicated to many of the crew. Along the way you also see the buildings such as the South Western Hotel, what is left of the train station, the White Star Line building, etc.

Belfast is where the Titanic was built. It is now restoring the area in the shipyards and will have a memorial park there in a few years.

Cobh which was called Queenstown when the Titanic stopped there was the last port of call before she began her fateful journey. The Cobh Heritage Center has quite an area dedicated to the Titanic story.

But the most moving memorial in my experience was the crossing we made on board the Queen Elizabeth 2. It was one of her last and though we didn't know it at the time, it coincided with the 96th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Below is the video of the moving ceremony as our ship slowed and a wreath was lowered into the water over the spot where the Titanic lays.



The good news of the Titanic, as told to us by retired Commodore Warwick, commodore of the Queen Mary 2, who lectured on the QE2 cruise was that because of her disaster, there are now rules and regulations in place for safety drills, lifeboat capacity, and even a better warning system for wayward icebergs. The cost was great but the lives lost have contributed to safer seas for all of us.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Worship Thoughts - Titanic's Last Hymn


Early on the morning of the 15th of April, 1912, the Titanic put her nose into the icy waters of the north Atlantic and slide beneath the waters. The musicians on board the ship are credited with trying to keep passengers and crew calm by playing music up to the very end. Controversy arises however over what the last hymn was that they played.

Most passengers reported hearing Nearer My God To Thee, a hymn which has several melodies that accompany it depending upon your country of origin. Here are the lyrics:

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone.
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God to Thee.

Refrain

There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy given;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain

Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.

Refrain

Several others, some of them quite credible, claim that the last hymn the musicians played was actually an Episcopal hymn called Autumn. This was the hymn one of the last survivors to escape the ship, Harold Bride, the Titanic's junior wireless operator, reported hearing.

Autumn's lyrics are:

God of mercy and compassion!
Look with pity on my pain:
Hear a mournful, broken spirit
Prostrate at Thy feet complain;
Many are my foes, and mighty;
Strength to conquer I have none;
Nothing can uphold my goings
But Thy blessed Self alone.

Saviour, look on Thy beloved;
Triumph over all my foes;
Turn to heavenly joy my mourning,
Turn to gladness all my woes;
Live or die, or work or suffer,
Let my weary soul abide,
In all changes whatsoever
Sure and steadfast by Thy side.

When temptations fierce assault me,
When my enemies I find,
Sin and guilt, and death and Satan,
All against my soul combined,
Hold me up in mighty waters,
Keep my eyes on things above,
Righteousness, divine Atonement,
Peace, and everlasting Love.

Controversy aside, the musicians that played on sacrificed their chance of survival to try to provide a spiritual calm. In those last moments, they pointed the way to a Savior, a God who would receive those who knew Him that cold dark morning.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Titanic Hits Iceberg - 100 years ago today


The seas had been calm. Passengers had indulged in great meals, games, music, dancing, perhaps a little gambling, much reading, and of course for many--mostly in Third Class, speculation of what their new lives in the United States would hold.

We all know the story. It's been told over and over. Blame has been laid at the feet of those in authority for many mistakes in the design, the safety precautions, the last minute decisions, etc.

Books have been written (and are still being written). Movies made (and remade into 3-D). And still, we are fascinated--those of us who cruise a lot perhaps even more. It is a piece of history that will live on because it touched the heartstrings of so many. Lives lost at sea. Families separated by the scramble for lifeboats. The thought that the technology, design, and craftsmanship of such an outstanding human accomplishment could so quickly vanish in the dark cold waters of the north Atlantic.

The ship was not torpedoed. There was no bomb on board that exploded. An iceberg, a large piece of a natural phenomenon was enough to show us that man dare not get too full of himself.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Titanic Passengers Enjoy Last Meals


Meals aboard the Titanic varied according to your class ticket. First Class passengers of course enjoyed the greatest variety, followed by Second Class. Third Class on board the Titanic were actually treated much better than on most other ships where they had to bring their own food for the voyage. White Star actually provided meals for Third Class.

A menu card from the Titanic lists all of the Third Class meals together. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal porridge and milk, smoked herring, jacket potatoes, ham and eggs, fresh bread and butter, marmelade, Swedish bread, tea and coffee. Lunch (called dinner) was the main meal of the day. It included rice soup, fresh bread, cabin biscuits, roast beef, brown gravy, sweet corn, boiled potatoes, plum pudding, sweet sauce, fruit.

The last meal of the day for Third Class was actually a high tea that included cold meat, cheese, pickles, fresh bread and butter, stewed figs and rice, tea. A late supper is listed which included gruel, cabin biscuits, and cheese.

The Second Class passengers were eating a bit better but not quite as good as First Class obviously. Second Class had more choices and finer foods. Their menu included consomme tapioca, baked haddock with sharp sauce, curried chicken and rice, spring lamb with mint sauce, roast turkey with cranberry sauce, green peas, puree turnips, boiled rice, boiled and roast potatoes, plum pudding, wine jelly, cocoanut sandwich, American ice cream, assorted nuts, fresh fruit, cheese, biscuits (the English call cookies biscuits), coffee.

First Class passengers would have started their last day with a breakfast menu that included over 25 items. Among them: oatmeal (wonder if it was different from 3rd Class?), several varieties of fish, grilled mutton kidneys and bacon, steak and mutton chops to order, omelettes, and a variety of breads, scones, and pastries.

Evening dinner was the crowning event however with a ten course meal served in the First Class dining saloon that night of April 14, 1912. The menu lists the following:

First Course
Hors D'Oeuvres
Oysters
Second Course
Consommé Olga
Cream of Barley
Third Course
Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers
Fourth Course
Filet Mignons Lili
Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farci
Fifth Course
Lamb, Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce
Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes
Green Pea
Creamed Carrots
Boiled Rice
Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes
Sixth Course
Punch Romaine
Seventh Course
Roast Squab & Cress
Eighth Course
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette
Ninth Course
Pate de Foie Gras
Celery
Tenth Course
Waldorf Pudding
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs
French Ice Cream

A different wine would have been served for each course. After the tenth course fresh fruits and cheeses were offered followed by coffee and cigars, port wine, and, if desired, distilled spirits.

It is amazing that any of them would have been able to move to get to life boats even if there had been enough. Of course I doubt that most diners ate everything on the menu. These were probably similar to today's cruise ship menus where you choose from a selection of courses. Today's cruise dining rooms have never, to my knowledge, served ten courses!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Titanic Sails Calm Waters


Reports indicate that the Titanic enjoyed smooth sailing one hundred years ago today. If you were a first class passenger, this would have been a great day to get out and enjoy shuffleboard, ring tennis or quoits. Most of us know what shuffleboard is. It is played with a long handled cue stick with a rounded half-moon shape on the end that is used to push a heavy puck down a long narrow court to rest with in a scoring area at the other end. Deck shuffleboard is still played today on cruise ships.

Ring tennis, also known as quoits, is a game played with rings made of rubber, rope, or metal. They are tossed with the obect of landing around a spike or configuration of spikes to earn points. The playing area depended upon the size of the ship and the area of the deck alloted for play.

Whatever the class of passenger, you were pretty much on your own for entertainment. There were no scheduled production shows or pool games. I'm guessing the cruise director position hadn't come into vogue yet.

As with ships today, there was still the promenade area to get a leisurely walk. Although today you will find as many joggers as you will walkers making the rounds. And today's ships will not have areas forbidden to cross into because you are the wrong class--just keep out of the crew areas.

Of course deck chairs were available for lounging with a good book that could be found in the lending library aboard. The books in the days of the Titanic would all have been paper however as opposed to the many e-readers seen today.

Inside, there would be card games and board games, music recitals, ballroom dancing in the evening, etc., and while there was no designated casino with slot machines, there would have been gamblers playing for cash. First classers could also enjoy a swimming pool, a workout in the gym, play on the squash court or enjoy ala carte dining in a specialty Italian restaurant.

Second class passengers aboard the Titanic would have received accommodations equal to that of first class passengers on other liners of the time. Their activities were a bit more limited but they still had a library, a smoking room, a large dining hall and I'm sure areas where many gathered for reading, game playing and gambling as well.

Third class passengers who made up almost half of the combined total of first and second class had sparser accomodations and often shared their room with four to ten others. Still, compared to other ships, the Titanic offered much nicer rooms. There was also a smoking room for third class and a general room where they could gather for whatever entertainment they cooked up on their own.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Titanic reaches Queenstown, Ireland


In 1912, Ireland was still reeling from the economic depression caused mainly by the potato famine. Many were anxious to begin a new life in the promise that America held for them. At 11:30 the morning of April 11th, the Titanic anchored just off the harbor of Queenstown(today it is called Cobh).

Can you imagine the excitement and the anxiety of those who would board her for their new life in the States? Imagine the families they were leaving behind. Many had already had a departure party--not unlike an Irish wake of sorts. That in and of itself was foreboding.

Like Cherbourg, France, Queenstown was too small a harbor for the Titanic to moor at a pier so several tenders were used to take mail, food, and passengers on board. There were several passengers who also disembarked having paid four pounds to travel from Southampton to Queenstown. Among them was Fr. Francis Browne, an avid photographer, who captured the last pictures of the Titanic as she began her transatlantic voyage.

A total of 123 passengers boarded the Titanic at Queenstown by way of the tenders, Ireland and America. There was also one deserter, a crewman named John Coffey, who jumped ship by hiding among the mail bags that were off-loaded.

At 1:30 in the afternoon, all transactions had been completed and whistles were blown to indicate the Titanic was ready to set sail on her crossing to New York City.

We have made that crossing several times aboard Cunard ships which are similar to the style of the Titanic. There are even some "class" distinctions left in that you can book higher levels, Princess and Queen, which have their own dining rooms and special services. Our real glimpse into the class structure of the old ocean liners however came when we crossed aboard the old Queen Elizabeth 2. The ship had been updated but the hallways and elevators were laid out strangely because in the beginning, the classes had been separated and you could not get to an area of the ship that was not in your class.

I'm sure the Titanic movie portrays well the types of activities that took place aboard the famous ship. Those energetic Irish who boarded in Queenstown probably kept steerage entertained.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Titanic Sails for Cherbourg, France


"Titanic Sails For Cherbourg, France" was certain to be headlines in some newspapers of April, 1912. One hundred years ago today, the Titanic left the port of Southampton for Cherbourg, France. Already many had come to Southampton by train and boarded the world's largest ship of the time.

Many of the first class passengers had spent the night at the South Western House. They could arrive by train and go directly into the lavish hotel built in 1872. Among the overnight guests was the controversial head of the White Star Line, J Bruice Ismay.

The passenger count was 922 as the ship sailed from Southampton at noon. More were scheduled to board in Cherbourg and later in Queenstown, Ireland. Shortly before dinner, Titanic reached Cherbourg. The port was too small to moor a ship that size so White Star had launched two tenders that carried another 274 passengers to board the ship and took 24 who had only journeyed as far as France into the port.

The process took less that 2 hours and the ship then left for Queenstown, Ireland where it arrived at 11:30 a.m. the next morning.

Cherbourg, France is a fortified town, a naval station, and a seaport today. While we have cruised extensively, we have never put in to Cherbourg. Descriptions of it tell of a quaint seaport town with lots of shops and restaurants. It is a destination port for Royal Caribbean.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Stinkin' Badge


Out in Arizona as we visited the Goldfield Ghost Town and toured the Bordello, I snapped a picture of a display of badges. Okay, I should have known better. They weren't historical. I discovered that when I examined the picture further and found one that was engraved with the label "Stinkin Badge." Still, not wanting to rule out some obscure bit of history, I set about searching the history of badges to see if perhaps there was one labeled that way.

Law enforcement badges apparently stem from the days of knights and heraldry. There have been all sorts of badges designed to designate law enforcement and other public service jobs like firemen as well. Much of the design is dependent upon the area where it will be used and a little bit of history is usually integrated into the design. Often a badge is called a shield--again stemming from those heraldic roots.

The ever popular and recognizable star shaped badge of the Wild West sheriff was said to be designed by Hollywood to designate which character was the good guy--aside from the white hat. But I also found information supporting the notion that it was originally designed by the Texas Rangers and fashioned to identify with their state nickname and emblem: The Lone Star State.

Well, I could have chased lots of bunny trails, bought tons of replicas and badges said to be authentic but I gave up in light of the fact I do have an obligation to get some writing done for my contracted novel. The Stinkin' Badge? It was a reference to the movie from 1930 starring Humphrey Bogart who gets yelled at by a Mexican Bandito. Supposedly the line is "We don't need no stinkin' badges!" But even that is disputed by several sites I visited. Maybe it got lost in translation?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Sunrise at Haleakala

Happy Easter to all!







May your Easter Sunrise remind you of the glorious risen Son!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Through My Lens - Arizona

A few leftover images from the Phoenix area. I'm still amazed at how many different cactus there were.




Thursday, April 05, 2012

Holden Arboretum - An Early Spring



In Kirkland, OH, is a beautiful wooded area called Holden Arboretum. It's a little bit of a drive for us but well worth the time--and on Tuesdays, seniors are free! A few weeks ago we decided to visit and see what was already in bloom since so much of our yard had already sprung signs of spring.

I love the early budding of the trees in spring when they are tinged with red and green as the leaves are just ready to start popping. This unusually warm March brought what is usually an April scene. The magnolia had begun to bloom against that feathery soft background of early spring colors.

We walked the trails through the display garden where many of the magnolias had unfolded their blooms and headed for the rhododendron area. It was still too early for their blooms but there were a few azalea blooming and some early variety of Japanese Andromeda.

In the middle of the rhododendron garden is the stump of a huge 150 year old red oak that fell in 2007. Since it was such a favorite of so many visitors, it was decided to make it into a work of art by enlisting the artistic talents of Dan Sammon from Monteville, OH, to carve some of his woodland creatures and nymphs emerging from the stump of the tree. He used various sized chain saws and a hand held torch to complete his work

Lots of daffodils were in evidence--white with yellow centers, yellow on yellow, yellow with orange trumpets. . .Several other colors were displayed in ground covers that were blue, pink and white.

Along the Woodland Trail, we watched the frogs plop into the water. We stopped when we saw one just sitting as still as a statue except for an eye that kept watching us. While I have a lens that lets me get close up, I still wondered how close the frog would let me get before he plopped into the water. I took a step and clicked. Another step and clicked. And several more. I got to the water's edge and he never moved a muscle. So cool!

At another lake along the way, I was glad to have a lens that lets me get close without getting too close when I spotted what I thought was a gray rubber hose. No hose. It was a snake! I only took the picture for my grandkids who know my fear of them and think I'm a real wimp. Shhh. I really am.

After several trails and many clicks of my camera, we grabbed our packed lunch from the car and found a spot on a picnic bench overlooking one of the small lakes in the park. As we ate, we listened to the honking and hissing of Canadian geese who were obviously laying out their territory for their nests.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect--well maybe a little less hazy cloud cover but for a Northeastern Ohio March day it was a dream!
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