[Written on Saturday, May 31, 2008]
This has been probably the most exciting day of my life so far. I have so much to write about, I’m having my usual trouble. That is, where to begin. First, I should show you the dogs of Punta Arenas, which I promised to do last time. There are dogs everywhere in that town. Walking down the street, first I would see one, and then Rainy or Ash would see one, and it got to the point where we were counting them the way you would count white horses on a long car trip. Most of them were friendly, too. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised we didn’t see more dog doo than we did. I don’t remember seeing any at all. Maybe the dogs of Punta Arenas know how to use bathrooms. (I’m kidding.)
Here is a picture of our very first look at the Nathaniel B. Palmer, which happened a couple of days ago. Yesterday afternoon, we moved from the hotel to the ship with the help of Steve and Paul, two of the MBARI engineers. Ash and I are in the same cabin together, and Rainy is in a cabin with Danni, who is a girl in college who is studying to become an oceanographer. She is really nice, and wears a little earring in her nose. Rainy says she might like to get one when she is older. (An earring. She already has a nose. Nyuck nyuck.)
The cabins are pretty small, but great. They have bunk beds, for example. Ash and I both wanted the top bunk, which has a ladder going up to it. So we flipped a coin and I won. But I guess I am getting ahead of myself. So much has been happening it’s kind of hard to keep track of it all. Before we moved onto the ship, we went to this place where they gave us our “extreme weather clothing.” Normally, I would rather do almost anything than try on clothes, but this time I didn’t mind at all. That’s because these clothes are awesome beyond belief. We got bib overalls that are like wearing a heavy coat on your legs, and they’re so tough you can do anything in them without tearing them. We also got giant parkas filled with goose down, even the hoods. We got hats and three pairs of gloves and dark goggles, and we each got a balaclava, which is kind of like a bank robber’s mask. It’s to keep our faces from getting frostbite. Best of all, we got steel-toed sea boots. These are like galoshes on major vitamins. They come up to our knees. They are heavy and warm, totally waterproof, and you can drop things on your toes without even feeling it. Ash and I tried this with a hammer (and got in trouble for it).
I don’t have any pictures of the clothes yet, though I’m sure we’ll have some soon. But I have pictures of something even cooler. Tonight we had a lifeboat drill. Part of what we were practicing was how to get into our cold water survival suits. Dude! Forty people in a not-big-enough room all hopping around trying to get into foam rubber suits with tubes and lights and whistles on them! See Rainy being a doofus in hers above. Then we practiced actually getting into the lifeboats, which have individual seats, each with a safety harness like a major carnival ride. The first mate, Rachel, says this is because in rough water the lifeboats bob around like corks and it really IS like a carnival ride, only scarier, I guess because it’s real.
This is getting pretty long, so I’ll say goodnight now and email this to Dad so he can post it on the blog. (We don’t have web access on the ship. Just this weird sort of email. Something to do with the way the communications satellites work.) Tomorrow we are heading out into the rougher water. I did want to mention that I found a stuffed animal on my bed this afternoon. It’s a penguin, not very big. It fits in my hand. I have no idea where it came from. I hate to admit this, but I was kind of glad I had it last night. I am beginning to miss home a little.