Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sheboygan Marsh

Day 27 (10/16/10)
The Sheboygan Marsh
Today we went to the Sheboygan Marsh for a change of pace. We had been hearing about it since we first got our kayaks. After spending some time on the internet gathering maps we were off to the marsh. When we left home there was very little wind but as we were climbing the observation tower at the marsh we noticed that the wind had definitely picked up. One of the interesting things about the marsh is that it has hundreds of floating cattail bogs and because of the wind they were all parking themselves right in the boat docking area. We found a unique route out through the islands and made our way into what we were told was the main ditch. We chose to not take the channel down to the main lake since the wind was blowing directly from that direction. We skirted the inner edge of the ditch on the way out to avoid the wind as much as possible. It was still pretty bad especially since all the cattails were shedding their cotton and it was as thick as snow at times. Because of the wind we had a somewhat abbreviated visit but we can’t wait to go back next summer. What the area lacks in scenery (the part we were at was all lined with cattails) it makes up for in hidden inlets which are fun to explore. We were told that people do get lost in the march because it is hard to see landmarks so we decided before next summer to laminate a map that we can chart our course as we go. The marsh will definitely warrant a closer look next summer when it is not so windy.

The Tower
Eileen in a Lagoon
Floating Bogs

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Summer in Fall

Day 26 (10/9/10)

When it is the second weekend in Oct and approaching eighty degrees you have no choice but to drop everything and go enjoy it. We had wanted to get back to Mauthe Lake all fall so we packed a lunch and our Kayaks and headed west. We made it there by 11:00 and headed straight for the river. We wanted get up river before to many other people got there to scare off the wildlife. Eileen spent quite a while photographing a Blue heron that seemed to like her stirring up the bait fish. The trip up river was excellent. It was so peaceful that you would find yourself closing your eyes and just listening to the sounds. At one point a slight gust of wind blew down some dry leaves and they were amazingly loud as they rattled down through the branches. After coming back down out of the river we stopped and ate our lunch. I did a little fishing and then decided to do some hiking. We had always wanted to hike the trail around the lake and since the colors were much better in the higher areas we went for it. It was one of those days where no matter what you did was wonderful. The pictures speak for themselves.

Heading up river

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Color at Gerber

Day 25 (9/26/10)
This time of year you have to take advantage of nice days when they show themselves. Last year we missed the turning of the leaves after a storm with heavy winds striped the leaves prematurely. This year we decided not to take any chances and get out early and often. I would guess that next week will actually be the peak of color. It was a beautiful day though with enough color to appease the appetite. When we got to Gerber there was only one other boat which left shortly after we got there so once again we had the lake to ourselves. We spent most of the afternoon just paddling around. I tried fishing but had little luck, which I had anticipated after feeding the fish this morning and seeing their lethargic disposition. As usual Eileen got some great pictures.

Eileen at the Bridge

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rainy Day at Waldo

Day 24 (9/19/10)

The Start of Fall

We had been waiting for a nice weekend to get out kayaking and it looked like today was supposed to be the best of the weekend. We had first planned on camping at Mauthe Lake until we heard the forecast for rain on Saturday and clearing for Sunday. As it turned out it cleared Saturday afternoon so we were psyched for Sunday. We woke up to a cloudy somewhat rainy morning. We had been waiting for so long though that we decided at noon to go for it anyway. Because it was close and we were unsure of the weather we went to Waldo. When we got there it started sprinkling but by the time we got everything ready it had stopped. As we worked our way up the lake it stayed dry. It is always fun kayaking on Waldo. You can see the fish, mostly suckers, scooting out of the way leaving mud clouds in there wake. Occasionally you catch one by surprise and you hear them thump of the bottom of your boat. The colors are starting to change so it was quite enjoyable. It started to drizzle on our way back and continued to get worse so we made a mad dash for the truck.

Slaying the Dragon
It starts Rainning

Lost Blog

First Changings
Day 23 (8/26/10)
It has been over a month since we have been out Kayaking. It has been a busy summer. We are hoping to make up for lost time this fall. We went to Gerber and as much as I love it I think we have to find a new lake to explore. Again there was almost nobody else there. There was one other boat but it never made it back to the back lake. I managed to get two fish right off the bat but then things slowed down. The water was down considerably since the last time we were there. It was very clear though. You could see fish all over, mostly small bass. I did see one large northern though but couldn’t get it interested. I think I need to take some diving baits to get down in the deep water where it is cooler.

Underwater shot
More Underwater

Small Bass

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Ship

Poo Truck & Buses
Day 22 (8/24/2010) The workings of the Ship

I wanted to take a little time to write about the general day to day operations of the ship which I found fascinating. It had not occurred to me the magnitude of the logistics to keep a ship like this maintained. The ship itself is capable of carrying 2600 passengers and 1200 crew. Considering the fact that there is always food to be had somewhere, this calls for mass quantities of raw materials to be received and processed at each port. It also means that there are mass quantities of waste to be removed. As soon as you pull into ports there is a bustle of activity. Before docking local authorities have to board ship and complete the needed paperwork for stopping in a foreign country. While this is going on dock workers are gathering to start tying up the ship. In some ports or inclement weather tug boats are needed to help the ship dock. After everything is secured the gangplanks are lowered and people start setting up for disembarking. This is usually within five ten minutes of docking. While all of this has been going on busses and trucks have been pulling in to take excursions away and deliver goods. Lines are hooked up to remove the waste of 4000 people on board. Garbage trucks start hauling away the solid waste. This happens every time the ship docks.
Apparently, you could take tours of the galley to see the onboard kitchens, bakery and laundry but we never had the chance. Again the sheer magnitude of feeding and caring for this number of people is astonishing. The fact that they do it without being noticed is miraculous. After almost two weeks onboard I still have no clue where all this work was taking place.
I was also surprised to see that the ship is undergoing constant maintenance. I assumed that once a year the ship docked and all of the repairs where done at one time. It turns out that the ship is constantly under repair. It was not uncommon for one of the pools or hot tubs to be drained, scraped, painted and reopened. Any spot of rust was instantly coated and painted. As Eileen found out, if you are not careful and miss a sign stating “wet varnish’ you may end up with a sticky arm.
Pilot Boat
Without a doubt our favorite ship operation to watch was the transfer of the pilot. It turns out that at every port a pilot who is familiar with the local waters has to board the ship and exit the ship after we are safely out of port. In order to do this, the pilot is brought out on a small boat and while they are both still moving jumps from one boat to another. Under the best of conditions this looks quite daring, but rarely are they the best of conditions. It turned out our balcony was right above the spot where they made the transfer so it became a favorite preoccupation to watch the pilot make the jump which he did as if he were stepping off a nonmoving bus.
It goes without saying that I have only scratched the surface of what it takes to operate a ship of this size and the countless people who work behind the scenes to keep everybody comfortable. I know of several that went out of their way to make it pleasant for Eileen and me.
Getting ready to make the jump!
Making the Jump!
The Little Tug That Could
Sax(our Steward) and Eileen

Edvard the Tasting Chef

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Coming Home

Day 21 (8/21/2010) Day 14 Baltic Sea Adventure
It is the last day of our adventure. We slept in a little later because we have to fly home. Last night there must have been some serious partying going on out in the street. They were still going at 5:00 this morning. I should have gotten up and closed the windows but I kept thinking it wouldn’t go much longer. We did manage to sleep pretty well though. After breakfast we went out to do a little more exploring before heading to the airport. Once again we passed through the New Harbor area then followed the pier up along edge of the city. We didn’t want to get lost because we wanted to make sure we were ready to check out of the hotel by 11:00. We were amazed by how many new gems kept popping up. The hotel called us a taxi to the airport. We think maybe we got fleeced a little because the meter started at 44. The driver didn’t seem to speak much English though so we decided not to mention it. The way he was driving we were just glad to get to the airport. We think he may have trained at the Mario Andretti School for cab driving. Again we got to the airport very early but that seems to make things a lot less stressful.
We just passed over the southern tip of Norway and are currently flying towards Iceland. I think we are going to pass south of it though. Again we have the onboard mapping system which I find really fun. We seem to be going about 50 to 70 miles an hour slower than when we flew out. We did pass below Iceland but much to my amusement we passed over the southern tip of Greenland. We could see the glaciers calving icebergs below us. The trip back to Chicago seemed to go pretty fast.

"One of Many" Sculpture
Admiral Hotel
The spiral tower of Our Saviour Church
Dragon Spire on Old Stock Exchange
Five Glaciers in Greenland

Monday, August 23, 2010

Return to Copenhagen

Eileen with a Guard
Day 20 (8/20/2010) Day 13 Baltic Sea Adventure
We were up at 5:00 this morning. We wanted to catch some breakfast before we left the ship. As it turns out we probably wouldn’t have to have hurried quite as much. We were afraid everything was going to be busy. As it turned out we must have been ahead of the crowd because we had breakfast and were off the ship by 6:30. We had a great taxi ride with a driver who gave us all kinds of tourist suggestions. It turns out our hotel is in the perfect location right between the palace and the most scenic area in Copenhagen, New harbor. We were worried that it would be too early to check in but we thought we could store our luggage while we walked around town. When we got there, the guy at the desk said our room was ready and we could go right in and that if we wanted we could go through the breakfast buffet. We settled for a cup of coffee and were off to see the town. We decided to start with the Palace and then worked our way down the board walk to Kastellet, an old fort that was surrounded sculptures and a beautiful church. On the board walk we ran into a street person who gave us more info. The most important was that the changing of the guard at the palace was at noon. We went back to the palace and watched the changing of the guard and Eileen got her picture taken with one of the guards. They all seem so young. Then we walked the other direction to New Harbor. It is the area where Hans Christian Anderson lived and wrote about. We photographed one of the houses that he had lived in. After much walking we decided to try the hop-on hop-off buses. We rode them for a while and were surprised how between our walks the first day and our walk today we had covered many of the land marks but now we had the stories behind them. As it turns out, Tivoli, the amusement park we had seen during our first day was actually built to take the Danish peoples mind off from their poverty and war. It was later Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland. After the ride we came back to the hotel to chill for awhile before going to supper. After supper we continued to walk around until it was time for bed.
Changing of the Guard
Gefion Fountain
Electric Car and Outlet
Equestian Statue of Frederic V
Dragon Light Pole
Copenhagen Opera House
Angel Sculpture by Kastellet
St. Alban's Church from Kastellet
Kastellet Windmill
Valkyrie in Churchill Park
Eileen looking out our Window
New Harbor District
More New Harbor
Hans Christian Andersen house in Copenhagen