Our Great Caribbean Adventure
Mary and I recently returned from our great adventure at sea. We were accompanied by our friends, Connie and Earl Yost. Last spring we decided to feel like ancient mariners and set sail towards the Caribbean, seeking adventure and fame. We wanted to feel warm ocean breezes and salt water spray on our faces. We each wanted to feel the warm sun, while all of you still here at home in the Ohio Valley were contending with snow and ice. I know that may be a little selfish of us, but being of a certain age, I believed we are entitled to party like its 1969, at least one more time. Now, you should know, partying aboard a cruise ship with 4,000 other senior citizens can get pretty intense at times. Nothing like gray hair along with the strong smell of O’DeCologne and Geritol to get your pace-maker going. By the way, in the ships store they sold bottles of Geritol, large economy size.
Mary has always wanted to see the clear blue waters of the Caribbean and its white sand beaches. It was one of the things on her bucket list that she has always talked of experiencing in life. Growing up, the idea she would ever travel to a faraway place was not something she ever thought of. Palm trees and the clear waters of the islands were places seen only in colorful calendar pictures. We have been lucky in our lives to have traveled to many wonderful places in our country. But, this is our first high sea adventure.
For Mary, the trip was about seeing a faraway place. Places she has read about in her books. But for me, it was about the experience.
Travel gives me a chance to see the sights, but more than that, it gives me the chance to experience something new. I’ll give you an example. I have read and heard people speak about the depth and colors of the ocean. I have many times stood on the shore of the beach and looked into the waves to see the colors of the shallow ocean just off the beach. But, out in the sea, the ocean has a depth to its color. Looking down at the ocean from our balcony, the water had a deep sapphire blue color. Not your ordinary blue. It was color with richness and depth that is almost indescribable. No blue jewel will ever have the depth of color contained in the ocean. Perhaps it was because at the point I was looking down, the ocean was nearly 14,000 feet deep. That is almost two- and-a-half miles down. I was looking at water so clear and deep, the blue of the sky overhead enhanced the color to a depth where light was lost in the darkness.
Our first day out, I figured it would be cold on deck. When we left from the port of New Jersey, just across from New York, the skies were heavily overcast and gray as winter snows were coming from the west. But, still I could see the Empire State building and the Freedom Tower in the distance. As our ship began to move, the snow storm that had followed us from the Ohio Valley finally caught up with a blinding intensity. The view of New York’s sky line quickly disappeared in the flurry of whiteness. Snow obscured the view of anything beyond 50 feet. A view of the grand city, as we left the harbor, was impossible. With the coming of darkness, the snow still obscured any view beyond the ship’s lights.
By morning we had traveled several hundred miles out into the ocean. Warm air that travels on the Gulf Stream greeted me as I opened our balcony door. The dark winter skies, that only hours before clouded our view, had cleared in the night and with the sunrise, gave us a view to the far horizon.
As I looked at the ocean of my dreams, my imagination began remembering the great seafaring stories I have read. Moby Dick, The Old Man and The Sea, and of course, Finding Nemo. I like the classics, but you will have to admit Finding Nemo was pretty good. Dory, a blue Tang Fish with a short memory, was especially good in the story. She does not have the dramatic power of Captain Ahab, but she did make me smile, and sometimes a good smile is enough when it comes to a good story.
Back to my imagination and the great seafaring stories. Words in a books can bring insight into a world I have never seen or experienced. But, for me, the voyage on the ocean allowed me to find answers to questions I had not found in Melville’s or Hemingway’s stories. Those answers, I found looking out over the vast ocean, will not change my life, but they will add realism to the colors and vastness of the ocean’s mysteries when I read their words in the future.
If you have never taken a cruise on the ocean in the middle of winter, you are missing something you should experience at least once in your life. To leave the cold gray valley and travel to a place where the skies are almost always blue and the air is warm year round, is enjoyable. The people we met on the islands were friendly and warm.
They enjoyed not only telling us of their homes, they were curious about our lives and world. I even believed some would enjoy experiencing some seasonal changes a few times in their lives. I guess no matter where you live, we all wonder what lies beyond the distant hill or seas as we look Through the Lens.