This is a travelog. It's meant to describe some travelling that I did July 29-August 9, 1998. There is a lot of travel in it: trains, a sailboat, cars, inter-city buses, rowing, walking, running, a plane. If you want to skip to the sailing part, please do.
|i||Introduction... Don't worry, it isn't all in verse... Larry offers up an apology... Why Amtrak?... Foreshadowing...|
|A||In which veins throb... Train recognition heuristics... The kind of people you see on Amtrak... A power outage...|
|B||In which Larry discover why he shouldn't take any more overnight train journeys...|
|C||In which we find out what kind of people one meets in an Amtrak first-class lounge... In which we find out what kind of people one meets in an Amtrak dining car...|
|D||In which we hear "Amtrak treated them like dogs!"... In defense of Amtrak... A meal with one of very few passengers of color...|
|E||In which Larry calms down... A tour of a biotech start-up... A tour of MicroSoft through the eyes of a MicroSoft hater...|
|F||In which we explore the question: What's the opposite of "start-up company"?... Piaw's log begins, with cameos by Scarlet and Lea... Przemek at the Jitterbug... A form of travel less efficient than a jetliner...|
|G||In which we meet the crew... Larry reveals some antisocial tendencies... Lea tries to stop studying... Scarlet says goodbye to a co-worker... Piaw discovers the real power of shiny electronics...|
|H||In which the crew arrives at Anacortes... The crew has to attend a class and pass a test... A bit about the boat itself...|
|I||In which Larry suffers a loss for words and is so embarassed that he subjects the reader to another poem (sorry about that)... The steering is great, the radio not so... Larry suffers steering mishaps...|
|J||In which the crew arrives at Friday Harbor and finds it crowded yet friendly... In which Larry takes pictures of a car without the owner's permission...|
|K||In which Larry, against all odds, injures himself on a dead whale... On the value of manners... How many crewmembers does it take to fill up a water tank?...|
|L||In which something unspeakably awful occurs... Tangled lines... Marine mammals... Sights and conversations of the San Juan Islands...|
|M||In which an uneventful anchoring occurs... How sun showers work... An island only reachable by private craft... Toys vs. Gear...|
|N||In which the crew discovers that it's harder to pull an anchor up than to drop it... Larry (a man egotistical enough to maintain a vanity web page) resists his show-offy nature... A surprise appearance by Walter Mondale...|
|O||In which the crew arrives at Sidney, not quite destroying any boats... Some of Piaw's gorgeous photos from the Buchart Gardens... Some especially lame tourists...|
|P||In which the crew explores beautiful Victoria by night... Piaw's martyr complex... Sleep or clean laundry?... Another dawn...|
|Q||In which some shopping occurs... The Canadian equivalent of news... The boat is not quite dashed upon the rocks...|
|R||In which Piaw steers the boat through some scary rocks... In which Larry gets scared of scary rocks...|
|S||In which the crew arrives at Roche Harbor... Larry talks with customs after a few hours of perceived crises... Lea discovers the joys of dinghydom... Lea acts as ship's doctor...|
|T||In which Larry does laundry...|
|U||In which Larry doesn't kill anyone... 7 Year Bitch, Green Jelly, and a bell choir come up in the course of one conversation... Fins in the water...|
|V||In which the crew arrives at Matia island after lots of other boats... Depth soundings the Rube Goldberg way... Larry tries to describe one of the most beautiful sights he's ever seen, and fails. (Fortunately, Piaw took a picture)...|
|W||In which the boat heads into rough waters... Water in the cabin... On excellence in nautical photography... Arrival at Doe Island... A somewhat disastrous mooring...|
|X||In which Lea and Scarlet engage in a futile search... Larry slumps into exhaustion... Piaw storms off... Marshmallows...|
|Y||In which the valiant crew navigates a thick fog... Return to Anacortes... Getting the boat ship-shape...|
|Z||In which Scarlet drives blind... Lea confronts her inner nature... Larry walks into things... Lea triumphs... Piaw extols the virtues of his Palm Pilot and his friend... Epilogue...|
Don't worry, it isn't all in verse... Larry offers up an apology... Why Amtrak?... Foreshadowing...
Having spent weeks reading Romantic po'ms,
Did Childe Lawrence take train to Northern clime,
Stayed at familial and friendlal homes,
And whilst in Seattle had a good time.
In yon town did muster a doughty crew:
Skipper Piaw, always saying wrong thing,
Fiery Scarlet (who he'd say it to),
And Lea, with hidden depths. They went sailing.
Lea learned much of boats, and so did they all.
Saw they small isles, tried some anchor crewing,
Explored garden, enjoyed well the sail,
And didn't spend that much time arguing.
Lawrence is back, his journal written. He
Is sorry those po'ms made him talk funny.
I'm going to begin this story before the beginning.
This is a travelog. It's meant to describe some travelling that I did July 29-August 9, 1998. There is a lot of travel in it: trains, a sailboat, cars, inter-city buses, rowing, walking, running, a plane. There are a lot of people in it: friends, relatives, co-workers, strangers. I don't know how well I kept track of it all. Woven in with the sailboat portion is the skipper's log. I know I'm going to have a tough time writing it down, trying to organize it.
For one thing, there's no way that I can pretend that the story started on July 29. I'd been looking forward to this trip for months, planning. I really had been planning for months, which makes my eventual lack of organization that much more surprising.
I'm going to tell you about some things that happened months before I got on the train. I hope that's okay.
San Francisco 1998 May 09
On a cheery day in May, 1998, I walked through a farmer's market by San Francisco's Ferry Building. Around me, office workers swirled, grinning at bright fruits, and brighter sunshine. This market was not my destination. My path through the stalls did not waver: I strode past honey; I scorned apricots; I did not slow for pastries. I did not seek treats, ease, nor delights. Instead, I was looking for Amtrak. I wanted to take Amtrak to Seattle and I wanted to have an awful time.
I'm as environmentally aware as the next person; I'd heard that jet travel consumed a lot of fuel. I didn't want to hear that. I like to fly.
I needed an excuse to keep flying. My best bet: confirm that ground travel is awful. I'd read plenty of Greyhound horror stories; I could rule it out with a clear conscience. Amtrak was not so easy, however. I'd heard nothing good about it, but few bad things, either. I'd read a travelogue of a rough train trip, but that was an isolated case involving an ear infection.
I had to try Amtrak. Hopefully, it would be awful, so bad that I'd never feel obliged to use it again. In the Ferry Building, I would buy my ticket to Seattle. I walked across a parking lot towards the front door of the Amtrak ticket office. I looked down: what else could I do?
It was impossible to reach the front door; there was a deep hole in the ground. It looked like a pipe had burst, like water had carried away the ground, carried it out into the bay. Rusty pipes lurked in the hole. This was awful. For my purposes, this was wonderful. I smiled, entered the office through a side door.
The ticket price was amazingly awful. I'd heard that Amtrak was expensive. I was still surprised to find out how much it would cost me to carry out this experiment in suffering. Easily three times as much as flying. I steeled myself, paid.
This was for science.
San Francisco Bay, just off Sausalito, 1998
We were on a sailboat. Piaw had just taken a refresher sailing course. He'd been practicing tying up to mooring buoys. A mooring buoy allows a ship to anchor without going to the trouble of using an anchor. The mooring buoy is a buoy solidly anchored to the bottom of a harbor, with a big metal loop on top. Boaters can pull up next to the buoy, snag it with a boat hook, tie a rope from the boat to the metal loop, and thus get anchored.
I'd never used a mooring buoy. Now I wanted to learn so that I'd be ready for our voyage. Piaw had sailed the boat up next to one. The boat was a rental; we hadn't been able to find a boat hook aboard. It's not easy to steer a big sailboat; it's not easy to steer it close to a mooring buoy. If you have a boat hook, you can reach out, and pull the buoy in.
Instead, I was reaching way out from the side of the boat. Piaw's brother was leaning on my legs so that I could extend my torso, my arms out towards this buoy. I scrabbled, got a grip. The boat was still moving, tugging the buoy out of my hands. I yelled. Piaw did something to halt our movement. Someone handed me a rope which I barely managed to slip through the buoy's loop before I lost my grip. Now I knew how a mooring buoy worked.
"And you can see how it would be easier if you had a boathook," Piaw said. I nodded, gasping for breath.
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