Searching for the Vikings

Thursday, August 31 - Day 30: At Sea in the Denmark Straits

Hold onto your hats. Brace yourselves. Something truly stupendous has occurred. We had been told a few days ago that this might happen, but since I was skeptical, I figured I would wait until it was confirmed before spreading the unbelievable news. On August 29, at 00:28 hours, Donnie and Jeff crossed above the Arctic Circle!!! High Five! Hell, High Six! We’re Arctic explorers; Us, Ernest Shackleton, Robert Peary, John Franklin, Dr. Hannesson, and over 2000 passengers and crew of this ship who are relatively insignificant and will not be mentioned again in this context . I only wish I had been awake so I could look out and see the dashed line in the water as we sailed over it. They even gave us fancy certificates, signed by the Captain, or some lowly crew member who forged his unreadable scrawl. I don’t really think that Captain Eric took the time to sign 1400 certificates. But that doesn’t matter. We didn’t even know that it was a possibility on this cruise. This was never, ever something that I contemplated happening. Hey! I might put a picture of a penguin on the kitchen wall at home. No, wait. Penguins are in the Antarctic. Never mind. I don’t want a picture of a Polar Bear on the wall. Move over Columbus. You never did that. You couldn’t even find China.

Enough of the jokes. This is astonishing! I am completely thunderstruck.

Back to more mundane matters. We woke up this morning to water, whitecaps, fog and good, old Mr. Foghorn. As I said, I find him soothing. I might buy one for the house. No, on second thought, our neighbor Amy might object. Hey, I could get a Foghorn ringtone for my phone. What a great idea. I just got another great idea. A Mr. Foghorn toy for kids. Grandparents could buy it for their grandkids. Their kids would hate them for years. Oh, I forgot. Kids don’t play with toys anymore, they just stare into their devices.

Another interesting thing happened this morning. While I was in the bathroom, doing the usual bathroom thing, the lights went out. A power failure? On a ship in the middle of the ocean? Not good. I had to open the door and let in a little light from the balcony door to finish my bathroom thing. I started to imagine all the unpleasant consequences when, after about 30 seconds, the lights came back on. Whew! Somebody in the Casino probably flipped the wrong switch when turning on one of the slot machines.

I was thinking again about the little bit I wrote the other day about the soap in the shower that had the wonderful aroma of Wrigley’s Spearmint Chewing Gum. It brought to mind a trend I’ve noticed in the last few years. First, some soap products, mostly the ones you use in the kitchen, started having Lemon scent. Ok. Not bad. Then, somebody decided that soaps should smell like fruit, and not just one, but two at the same time. So you got Raspberry-Watermelon, or Kiwi-Orange. Then this spread to shampoos and soaps you use on your body. Then they got really creative: Mango-coconut, Blueberry-peanut, whatever. Who decided that people wanted to smell like food? What was wrong with soaps that smelled like soap? How far are they going to go? Chocolate-Cherry-Sundae? Banana-Split? Maybe even further: Roast Beef-and-Gravy? Are we going to go all the way to Liver-and-onions?

We were sitting in the Crow’s Nest, typing away at these potentially-award-winning works of literature, when an older gentleman sat down next to Donnie (later she told me he was 90 years old). After a minute or two, he started to engage her in conversation. He was another one of them. He told her his entire life history for the next hour (I’m not kidding. His entire life history), along with his war record and all his health issues. I was really, really glad that he sat down on her other side, so I could pretend to be totally absorbed in my typing. He only stopped to go to a meeting of war veterans, and he told her to save his seat because he would be back. She, as always, was very polite and pretended to be interested. I think she attracts them somehow. Or, maybe, they will talk to anyone or anything. I’ll let you know if I see one talking animatedly to one of the life-size Chinese Terra Cotta warriors on deck five.

Looking out of the big wraparound windows of the Crow’s Nest we have a wonderful view of… fog.

(… early afternoon said its magic word and metamorphosed into later afternoon, with help from its lovely assistant, Gladys …)

I tried the Icelandic Chocolate. It tasted sort of like… Chocolate. Uncannily, like Chocolate, with no hint of fishiness. Seriously, it was very good. When we were in St. Petersburg, Russia a few years ago, when we were in the airport about to leave, I bought a bar of Russian chocolate, which we tried on the airplane. It was terrible. We left most of it.

We attended another of Barbara’s location talks, this one about Greenland and specifically about Nanortalik, which we will be visiting the day after tomorrow. We found out that it’s smaller than Qaqortoq. Not a big place, then. Updated weather report… we are way out at sea, with absolutely nothing visible worth photographing. What do you think that indicates? You got it again, you intelligent readers. Bright sun, what else?

(… the day changed out of its late afternoon outfit, showered, and got into its early evening attire …)

We attended another fascinating lecture by Dr. Bendel about the Solar System. He talked all about the planets, their moons, and some of the space probes and other space missions investigating them all. He is going to continue his series of lectures over the next few days. I, being a long time science nerd, liked it a lot. I didn’t take detailed notes, so I won’t repeat all of the very interesting facts and details he gave us. Did I just hear a giant chorus of huge sighs of relief out there? Shame on you.

Interestingly, the afternoon and evening have been alternating periods of bright sun and dense fog. Weird. Probably very North-Atlantic-in-Summer-ish.