Sunday, November 30, 2008

Getting it straight

OK.  Before I pass the fuck out and before any of you smart asses with degrees in geography call me out...I am not heading East to Angola by way of Cape Horn and crossing the Atlantic.  Rather I am heading southwest and rounding THE CAP OF GOOD HOPE in a few short days.  Yes, I know my horns and hopes, I'm just fucking really tired.


More Storm fun

Now, after 4 1/2 hrs at work, the fact that my computer screens are all tilting first to the left, then right, then left...all in concert, is making me sick.  Definitely one of those days where it's not fun to have a desk job at sea. I think I'm heading topside to find some physical work, or maybe just puke over the side.  Mr. Bud?  I would give anything to be working under a tarp at Pedro's in a blinding snowstorm, right about now...

and right out of the gate- a nasty storm

The plan was to next post something as I rounded Cape Horn, but we've sailed out into a particularly nasty storm.  The ship's taking a bit of a beating.  Last night there was a a rather loud thunderstorm with lots of lightening.  We lost sat comms for a while.  There's been a lot of booming crashes as huge combers are slamming the bow.  A few people are a little seasick and I was unable to sleep last night from getting tossed around in bed.  By 2am, my back was giving out and I was forced to take a couple of my emergency muscle relaxers.

The thing about taking muscle relaxers in rough seas is the having to get around.  Getting from my bunk to the shower, sleepy and drugged up was not easy.  Trying to stand in my tiny shower-impossible.  I kept stumbling through the curtain until I finally gave up, rinsing out the shampoo in my sink.  Two hours into my shift and I still can't walk around with coffee in my hand.  I wish I could just walk down the companionway and go back to sleep...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Next stop Angola

After spending only two days in Durban, South Africa, I've set sail for Luanda, Angola.  The weather is windy and rainy and the seas, choppy.  Most are happy to see the port go.  Evidently, the booze was cheap and the crew was ready to get back to sea.  I arrived on no sleep, managed only two hours the first night and none the second night due to jet lag and work issues.  So, I never even made it out for a night on the town.  The entire crew went out last night and tore up the town.  I crawled into my rack and slept 18 hours-a big, black thing that was hard to crawl out from under this afternoon.  Slept through half of my shift, in fact.

Anyhoo, I'm heading South and will post next from the fabled Cape Horn, Where the Indian meets the Atlantic...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

South Africa

So, I'm back onboard my ship, currently alongside in Durban, South Africa.  The following are thoughts and observations written along the way in various airports, planes and the hotel...

While being a slightly shorter trip, it does not seem any easier.  I had only enough time to walk briskly across the airport in Minnie and make my connection.  JFK is a somewhat lousy airport.  I had to walk across the tarmac and along a winding path covered by a series of tarps to get inside.  It was windy and rainy and I was pretty wet by the time I got inside.  Once there, I was informed I had to go back outside, across two streets and a parking lot, in order to get to the train to the international terminal.  I do, however, have time to dry off in the food court while waiting the 5 hours for my next flight.  JFK has a decent food court and a wide range of shops, in both terminals 2 and 4.

McDonald's sucks all over the world and yes, here at JFK.  Should've went with the old deli sandwiches wrapped in plastic:(

Excessively overweight people should have to buy two seats if they're otherwise going to squish some poor motherfucker who already has to be trapped in planes for 36 hours, goddammit!  I'm not exactly skinny but at least I don't crush other people.  Fuck.

Wooo Hoooo!!   Flying from JFK to Dakar, Senegal.  I am NOT getting crushed!!  In fact, I have four, count-em F-O-U-R seats to myself.  The plane is nearly empty and (how much does it cost to fly an Airbus A343 from New York to Dakar?) we all get to stretch out:)  Everyone is sleeping but me.  Even after 3 muscle relaxers, 1 codeine and 2 bottles of an excellent South African Shiraz, all I can do is lay here, read, and slur my words, or get up and stumble around like wino.  Great buzz, lousy atmosphere.

South African Airlines food basically sucks, even shit-faced.  Another 7.5 hours till South Africa and I am REALLY tired of airplanes, airline food and the seats-even if I do have FOUR of them.

Finally, South Africa!   Johannesburg.  Fortunately, I was met by an agent.  With him, I was able to skip the passport line with 400 people in it and use the empty, diplomat line.  That's me, pirate and diplomat.  We ran into a bit of trouble with a self-important immigration fellow who wished to deny me entry into the country, but a stamp from another desk allowed me to finally pass.  My agent escorted me through the airport, check-in and all the way to gate security, bypassing a few more, minor, hassles.  Nice to have an agent not only at the final destination, but also the point of entry.  Often, flying into a country in one city and then disembarking permanently in another leads to major hassles, tons of paperwork and occasionally fines, deportation, or jail.  No fun.  Anyway, there aint shit to do here at the gates, but the terminal is huge, brand-new and has tons of restaurants and shops, all outside security:(  Bored, hung-over and very fucking sleepy!!

Yeah.  Durban, South Africa.  My flight here was a mid-sized jet with tons of South African flavor, from the conversations, accents and looks to the music piped in and the food.  Wonderfully different and actually woke me up a bit.   I'm staying in a giant, five-star hotel.  This place might be the nicest hotel I've ever been booked into for work.  Right on the beach.  My bathroom door is a pane of frosted glass and the bath counter is a slab of marble supported on carved wooden posts.  They wrote me a letter and left me a bag of killer chocolates.  Sushi bar downstairs.  Guinness in the pub.  Lots of ladies in dresses, like something formal is going on, but I don't see many guys...weird.

Holy Fuck.  Well, I found out why I saw a bunch of well-dressed, un-escorted women last night.  The Miss World Pageant is here.  Met miss Russia and Italy in the lift.  They seem nervous.  They were heading to breakfast, but look like they'll puke up anything they eat.  Come to think of it, that's prolly the plan, eh?  Anyway, I had breakfast out on the terrace, next to one of the pools.  First, I looked out and there is my ship, anchored about 3 miles out.  I couldn't resist.  I called the Captain and told him I was watching the ship and drinking a gin and tonic.  He told me to fuck off and hung up. (and I've posted a picture of him telling me to fuck off, taken from the poolside terrace)  Then, a few minutes later about half the miss world contestants came out to sun by the pool, or have pictures taken.  This pretty much killed all conversation at the breakfast tables and every guy with a camera started taking their own pictures.  Being married, I took exactly 2 pictures (both posted), just to prove I had breakfast with the miss world contestants this morning and there you go.

OK, off to sleep.  I've got a 6am wake up call and all day meetings and I am jet-lagged like a motherfucker.  Hope ya'll are having a safe and happy thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to sea

It's once again that time. Time to pack it up and head back to sea. This trip will see stops in Dakar, Senegal, Johannesburg and Durbin, South Africa and then Luanda, Angola. I've done a year in the Caribbean, several in the GoM, a year in Eastern Canada, one in Norway, Russia and the UK, a year in New Zealand and Australia. Trips in Southeast Asia, South America, Alaska and even a few visits to Africa. However, this trip starts what may amount to a year and a half on the African coast, with possibly a summer in Alaska to break up the monotony.

I'm nearly packed, have only a few household repairs and chores to do and hopefully, I'll catch a few hours shut-eye, before flying out, weather permitting. We started to get some heavy snow a few hours ago and it needs to let up by 11:45pm, or the plane I fly out in the morning will not be able to land, tonight.

Deer season was a bust. The bucks were simply not up during daylight hours where I hunted this year. Peak rut for this area was noted as opening day, and usually, the bucks are dead tired from all the wild nights and aren't seen during the day for about a week after, which was just about right. I saw movement on the last two days, but never got a clean shot. Win some, loose some and I lost this season. All I can say is that I spent about eight long days, dawn to dusk, out in the woods, slogging through knee-deep snow. It was still peaceful and damn good exercise, though.

So, it's been an extra-long break for me, I accomplished quite a bit and while I didn't get any rest, I think this trip should be a breeze, with a few days in port, a long steam and a slow start-up. Then, I should get back home, just in time for the holidays.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Got art?

There are many forms of art and this is stop-motion animation-what you get when a guy draws on a wall (or ceiling, floor, ground, etc), then erases it and draws more, and so on-taking photos along the way. Found this at Matt's blog.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

For want of a buck...

My freezer remains empty.  Somebody needs to tell the MI DNR that the UP doesn't need yet another antler restriction.  All we need to to do is shoot a few of these F%&KING DOES!!

Yes, that is SIX does eating my bait faster than I can stock the pile and not a buck in sight.  What you can't see are the three other does that managed to consistently evade my camera while helping the other bitches to clean me out.  Other than the ladies, I've only seen one buck since opening morning.  He came into my bait pile, but was so scrawny I let him pass.  Another hunter standing on the ridge just above me shot him less than a minute after he walked off the pile.  No, I was not pleased to see him take a bullet after I gave him a pass, nor was I pleased that some dumbass shot him in sight of my blind, bait pile and pickup.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The night before

The plan* was to lie low at 7pm, take in a mindless movie, maybe read a chapter of LP's favorite book to her, then pass the fuck out for 5-6 hours, getting up at 3am to prepare for my favorite day-OPENING DAY OF RIFLE DEER SEASON.  As with the best-laid plans of mice and men, my plan* soon went astray.  Right about pass the fuck out time, in fact.  Three hours of tossing and turning, four trips to pee, stoking the wood stove FIVE times, three smokes and three glasses of water later, here I am at 2:40 am, blogging.   I've also cleaned out my coffee thermos (not touched since last deer season), loaded up a bag o snacks, re-packed all my hunting gear, changed all the batteries in my flashlights, headlamp, GPS and camera.

Much like the night before crew-x, I have a wee bit of trouble sleeping before the hunt.  The adrenaline begins to seep into my veins about 12 hours before first light no matter what I do.   Not an ideal situation, where I need to be at the top of my game at first light and instead will be bleary-eyed and yawning, just like last year and the year before and so on...

Still, just one snapped twig, or patch of moving brown fur and I'll be right as rain.  Let's see-on the bright side, I am well-organized, a light dusting of snow has fallen in the last 4 hours and it is still above 30, I think.  That reminds me that it's time for the weather channel and my LOCAL ON THE 8"s, that is IF they aren't trying to entertain me with some jackass story of how weather changed history, or a segment on the horror that would/could/should ensue if a tsunami and an earthquake hit Cleavland simultaneously, at rush hour, on the day after Thanksgiving.  I think they call those segments Impending Doom or something to that effect.  Why the fuck would anyone turn on the weather channel to actually get a forecast when they can be fed the mindless bullshit they put up as entertainment?  I just don't know, but then I wouldn't shed a tear if all television just dried up and blew away so who am I to judge?  Give me a good book, dammit. 

In fact, I just snagged a good book to set up the afternoon snooze in the blind today:)  I may also take my laptop and do a little blogging from the blind.  I've got a digital camera, now all I need is an unprotected wireless network left on by a nearby hibernating bear...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Preparing for the hunt

At 8am this morning the mercury hovered around 20 above.  It was snowing like hell and blowing up a storm, so I went back to bed.  It was the same thing at 9, but I heard the creak of the woodstove door and knew LP was up and PW was about to crank up a fire, so I dragged my sorry ass out of bed.  Saturday, I did F&*k-all, but today was to be different.  Btw, Mr. Bud and LL, I lasted about an hour after our chat and blew chunks Friday night.  It wasn't the booze, or the pills-I ate so much for our early thanksgiving, I couldn't breathe when I laid down to pass out.  The Roman in me did the smart thing and made a little room, then it was lights out and easy breathing all night.

OK, so this morning I lugged in firewood, stoked the fire and then dug the pickup out of the snow, got my blind, bait and some other bits and bobs loaded and warmed up the truck.  LP and I slogged through the snow to my bait pile and set up the tent blind in a near blizzard.  We re-baited the pile, set out some scent bottles (you know the ones you fill with pee and come with a little wick that you can hang from a tree branch?), put up our folding chairs and buttoned up the blind until next Saturday.  After a little bit of scouting, we headed back to the homestead where PW warmed us up with a big pot of steaming hot, home-made chili.  It was awesome and the perfect food after a bitter cold day in the woods.

We hung out on the couch, working off the chili for an hour then the girls showered and I cleaned off and warmed up the SUV.  The three of us went to LP's skating lessons and after 2 hours of sitting on a bench reading a book, I was allowed to take us grocery shopping.  Two hundred bucks later we made it home just in time to haul in more wood, grab a late dinner and shuffle LP off to bed.  It is still snowing and blowing like a motherf&*ker, but the stove is cranking and I LOVE that radiant heat!

ps. I didn't pee in the little bottles-I meant fill them with DOE urine.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

F the house

I have been tagged by the DeathChick and will give it my best shot.  I can do this-an "f-list" when I'm cranky and sore...

Hmmm, this is DEFINITELY a shortened version as I am sitting on the couch in my underwear, stinky, sweaty and smelly, waiting to take a shower and anyway my back goes into spasms when I hunch over the coffee table to type.  To that end:

In no particular order:

The whole freaking electoral process and everyone running, or involved in any way.  It is supposed to be one of the things that makes our country great, but this year it made me want to puke up my waffles.
broken shoelaces
incompetent drivers
Spongebob Squarepants
insurance companies
all airlines, worldwide, except for Emarites and Singapore Air
pancreatic cancer (I just saw the commercial where Mr. pancreatic cancer is sitting in the back of Dan's car and that motherfucker better not be hiding in my backseat!)
my work boots
wet wood
metal slivers
gun control advocates who think the world will be a safer place when only the criminals are packing heat
my aching fucking back

I really feel the need to end this on an up-note so I would like to add that I LOVE thunderstorms and we are having one right now:)

Weather woes

Weather is screwing me.  Nonetheless, I am ready for deer season. nearly have the metal roofing on the woodshed and am waiting on the last part to complete my furnace work.  I only have the firewood about 1/4 loaded into the woodshed, but I'm getting that done, too.  Winter just comes too damn fast around here.  About 15 days till I head back to work, meeting my ship in Durbin, South Africa, I believe.