Monday, February 12, 2007

Our Day in Catalina

` At long last - and between homework breaks! - I've finally done it! And done it much more humorously and absentmindedly than I had expected! Below are various photos and funny stories of the second day of our cruise, including the somewhat painful tale of how I almost drowned! Horrors!

` On the morning of January 16, Lou and I woke up in pure darkness, and it took a minute for me to register that our fake window was of no use. Yes, it was hard not having a clock in our room. Tragically, in our blind stumbling Lou somehow killed our towel origami polar bear! No! And I hadn't even thought to take a picture of it yet!
` So, how did we figure out what time it was? It was straightforward enough; all I had to do was blunder across the phone (which was all the way on Lou's side of the bed!) to dial 7777. A nice lady picked up and told me that the time was only 7:44.
` Heavy sigh of relief - we weren't at all close to missing our snorkeling adventure! Within a few minutes we climbed up on deck and went into the one dining room for our buffet-style breakfast, which we ate watching two little Korean boys chase the Catalina (or vacationing Long Beach) seagulls back and forth.
` Speaking of which, there they are!

` And there go the gulls! As you can see, some of them were smart by perching out of the boys' grasp on what appears to be a light fixture.

` Then, when the boys ran back off down the deck, the seagulls resumed their tabletop scavenging....

` Some of them, however, seemed to be on the lookout - you can just tell that this one is just waiting for those kids to come back! (Either that, or watching for another bunch of leftovers to be given up by the humans.)

` Here, three of the gulls perch in wait for another table to be abandoned and exposed to their webby clutches....

` My Gary Larson-ish caption for this one would have to be; "Too soon, Maurice! Get back up there!"

` And, just in case you may suspect that these photos were not taken on a boat - well, carefully examine the sunlit portions in the above two photos. Yes, the boat is what had shifted, not the sun, surprisingly imperceptible as it was!

` If you're feeling queasy anyway, let's go back inside and down some stairs. Once again we find ourselves in the grand atrium (remember it?), this time with the skylight fulfilling its main function:

` When our time came to go to the tenders, we herded ourselves into a long line full of mooing, baa-ing and general cud-chewing. Unfortunately, it was also then that I realized I didn't have my bathing suit with me! "Don't worry," Lou said, "we'll get you a new bathing suit!"
` I said "Yay!" and we shuffled down to the little staircase-type deal leading down into our little shuttle boat. We waited two long minutes on the steps - as I took this photo and while Lou was doing a V-sit on the railings - until our turn had at last come to head ashore!

` Here's a look back at our cruise ship as our tender was speeding away - the little yellow submarine is actually a glass-bottom boat. (This is definitely a picture to click on and view full-size!)

` Once we were off and walking away from the little shops on the pier, I ran into a couple I knew to be from Deutschland and said to them, "Guten Tag!" The guy said something back but I didn't understand him because he had a different accent than I was used to - he sounded like he was from the mountainous regions rather than Berlin.
` Strolling around the dappled brick plaza, we waded through flocks of pigeons and seagulls which chased each other when the children weren't around to do it for them. After wandering in and out of various bathing suit shops and finally resolving to go over to Yoshi's swimwear, I paused to photograph Lou as he posed on the seawall with our new short-time best friend, Freeloader the Seagull. (You might have to click in order to see them very well....)

` Come to think of it, I'm almost sure that the turquoise building on the pier in the background was actually Yoshi's. But, before making our way over there, I took one last photo of Lou standing on a lifeguard platform:

` It turned out that Yoshi's swimwear was run by none other than a Kung Fu artist named Yoshi. She no longer looks exactly like the picture on her bag, though she can still kick a seven-foot person in the face!
` The bathing suit I had my heart set on was, sadly, not quite fitting in the breasticle area (I don't have the fortitude). However, since Yoshi has been running a swimsuit store for 24 years, she knew how to make a bathing suit fit. And make it fit she did! (It involved tying a knot!)
` As you can see, I purchased it after all, and I still have the Yoshi bag!

` Thanks, Yoshi!
` And so, once she put and end to our time-consuming journey of finding me a bathing suit, we went walking around aimlessly. It wasn't long before we almost tripped over something Lou had previously only seen in Europe. That's right - a real Mini! (Not like those holograms you see in America!)

` Now that's mini!
` All around town we wandered, past residences, tourist shops and yummy-looking restaurants. Here and there we saw these strange life-forms called 'birds of paradise'.

` I don't care what they're called, they look like plants to me! (And they match Lou's old shirt from when he was the Little Gym program director, a.k.a 'Teacher Lucas'.)

` Next, we followed this sign up to this farm full of horsies - and a potbellied pig! This horse in particular really liked Lou and the way his skin tastes. That's funny, so do I!

` What a camera ham! (The pig, ironically, was not.)
` Then it was onto a restaurant for a bite to eat. We happened to be sitting near this small child by the name of Ethan and wound up polluting his mind by teaching the guacamole-lover about the virtues of salsa....

` After eating, we took off to the fifty-degree shade to do none other than prepare for snorkeling. That, in my opinion, is much too cold to change into a wetsuit - and agonizingly slowly at that! Of course, it was agonizingly slow, not because of me, but because it turned out that 'normal' wetsuits are way too small in the arm-and-leg areas!
` First of all, I almost didn't get my feet through the leg-holes of the Farmer Johns (overalls) - I had barely got them around my ankles, and after I'd completely torn the handholds off, I could not grab onto the pant legs because they were tight as a drum against my skin!
` After much straining to peel them on, Lou and the guy who rented us our lockers grabbed onto one side each side of my Farmer Johns, lifted me completely off the ground and started bouncing me up and down like I was in some kind of bungee baby swing! I really bounced too (because wetsuits are rubber), and they didn't actually make much progress until the Locker Guy grabbed my right pant leg and got it hitched up a little higher.
` As my digital camera was in the locker and none of my underwater camera photos came out, I managed to pirate one from the video that was shot by the Carnival video cameraman.

` ...And I did it right in front of the video seller after we asked him to play it for us! I'm such a freakin' bastard, but hey, it worked!
` So yeah, that's me in my Farmer Johns (Janes?) by the side of the mountain while Lou was pulling on the jacket/shorty portion of his wetsuit on. Notice how pulled-down my shoulders were from the overalls alone! I swear, I could not raise my arms!
` As I was saying, I had my right leg hitched up enough to move (which makes sense because my right leg is skinnier than my left), so I was staggering around, lopsided. Then, I put on my wetsuit jacket-thingy, which is long-sleeved with little shorty-legs at the bottom that goes on over the Farmer Johns. With my shoulders being pulled down more tightly than ever, I was stiff as a board. And why? Lou informed me that the reason was because I was putting my wetsuit on wrong!
` Somehow, I figured it was a problem with the wetsuit - I had three inches of room below my crotch because it would not budge any further, and both pieces anchored from that far down on my body were yanking down on my shoulders so hard it felt like I had 20-lb weights attached to them! The best I could do to stand up straight was to sway drunkenly while hunched over, though strangely, I couldn't bend forward any further, either. It was like having amazingly strong, giant rubber bands pulling the backs of my shoulders to my hips, locking my torso in an awkward position.
` Meanwhile, my ankles were being pulled - rubber band-like - straight and under my hips, while my arms were practically pinned to my side. Trying to move either my arms or legs felt just like those times at the gym when I tried to lift weights that were too heavy for me to work out with - it was a real struggle! And yet, in this condition, I was forced to walk across a road, down stairs and onto a rocky beach. Needless to say I fell flat on my back several times, and was unable to move - the effort of trying to bend forward turned my face red in one second flat!
` Hilariously enough, while the Carnival guy was taping us crossing the road like so many half sea lions-half penguins, everyone else was walking awkwardly while I stumbled erratically, pitched backwards, unable to get my feet far back enough below me and skittered sideways a few meters before crashing onto my side. So, if you see anything about it on YouTube....
` Thank goodness there weren't any cars coming because I seriously do not think I could have picked myself up, much less gotten out of the way! ...Unless maybe I rolled.

` By that time, my wetsuit was not only glued to me, but it was very hot and I actually began to sweat as I slowly ambled to the next step of my water-bound excursion. Amazingly, after barely being able to bend down far enough to douse my mask in anti-fog, I somehow made it down the stairs but could not bend my torso far enough to put on my diving fins - Lou had to do that for me. Then, because lifting my arms at the elbow (forget about at the shoulder!) was like pulling on an exercise machine bar that was set a little too heavy for me to lift, I could barely manage to put my mask to my face. Lou had to do that, too.
` Unfortunately, he didn't lift up my strap when he pushed it up into position, so my hair was pulled up with it so that I had a big loop of hair-slack which I knew was going to just slide back down to its original position with the strap holding on for the ride. The instructor, of course, had just explained to us what would happen if your strap slid down too low - the mask would start moving down your face and over your mouth! - so I was very much aware of how important that detail was.
` Unable to get my hair into an inert position I tried to at least tighten the strap so my hair wouldn't slide underneath it, and while I was fumbling to grab a hold of the mask Lou said "no, it's fine the way it is." A combination of my having trouble breathing, my knowledge that Lou used to have long hair and a desire to not embarrass myself by looking fussy were basically the things that kept me from insisting that it would slide down.
` Across the rocky beach we carefully skittered crabwise in our long fins, and down I went again and again, bashing my back against the hard rocks (luckily, the suit was pulling my shoulders forward so hard that my head couldn't hit the rocks). Lou kept pulling me up, saying "Everyone's going through the same thing as you and they're all okay! You can stand up straight too." I wanted to yell at him, though instead I said, "How can that be? I don't see how anyone could stand up in this condition! I'm telling you, my suit is too small!"
` At this point, I was really insecure because I was the only one who could not stand up at all and felt like I wasn't trying hard enough. Full of determination, I got into the fifty-degree water - which I could barely feel - and couldn't move my left at all knee to kick, though at least I could move my right one a tiny bit. I also tried to move my arms but it was like I had twenty-pound weights on them. The one thing I could do was breathe through my snorkel.
` Yes, I could breathe perfectly... for several minutes, as Lou was attentive enough to put my snorkel into my mouth for me. However, as my hair slid back into place, the mask strap - which remember, was grabbing my hair and not my head - was being pulled along with it! As I had predicted, my mask began sliding down my face!
` Having trouble keeping the snorkel in my mouth - because my mask was pulling it on down my face - I kept swallowing water. And, as wetsuits are buoyant and I was trapped at the surface of the water, I managed to turn up on my side to tell this (between gasps) to Lou, who said that this was normal to relax and just swim. Then he readjusted my snorkel without repositioning my mask and I did what he said without complaining. For a little bit, I was almost relaxed and worked on freeing up my right knee.
` I could finally bend it enough to kick, though kicking with the left leg still required that I moved all the muscles in my thigh and ankle as well as my knee, and even that wasn't good enough! As for the rest of me, I couldn't at all move my head back, my shoulders up, or curl my body forward one iota. I was essentially, more or less, paralyzed.
` Even so, as Lou had suggested, I managed to keep head and tried to look at the fish... though the fact that I couldn't maneuver much in the water or push my mask back up was quite distracting. Also, the fact that it was almost impossible to get myself out of the face-down position (due to the buoyancy of wetsuit pants) was rather troubling.
` For several minutes, I focused my attention on looking at the fish, listening to the whales and feeling mighty guilty for not trying harder. I just kept thinking to myself, 'I can do this if I just strain harder! Just look at all those people who can move both legs!'
` Strain as I might, I still could not do as the others were doing it just resulted in the feeling that my skin was being ripped off, along with some dryish burning and chafing, suggesting that my wetsuit wasn't wet on the inside like... well, a wetsuit! So, because I couldn't really swim, Lou had to pull me along after the tour group, which was at least thirty feet ahead at all times.
` See? Here's our tour group and we're not in it!

` And then the unthinkable happened; my snorkel began being pushed out of my mouth! You see, the nose-skirt of my mask was being dragged down even further by the the hair-bound strap while at the same time pressing down on my upper lip, under where the snorkel mouthpiece was! I tried to bite down harder, but it was too late! So there I was, face-down in the water, practically unable to move my arms, legs or torso, my breathing apparatus had just been forced out of my mouth, and there was nothing I could do to stop it!
` I seriously thought I was going to drown! Luckily I managed to roll onto my side and move the snorkel with my tongue so that it was out of the way of my mouth. So there I was, barely able to put up a fight to keep my face out of the water. On top of that, now that I had air I finally noticed just how freezing cold the water was against the top of my head! It was then that I also noticed that the rest of me was quite chilly, despite all the friction from chafing.
` Apparently, when you are effectively bound and gagged, unable to move (and thus generate heat), and then thrown into fifty-degree water, you lose heat quickly even if you are wearing a wetsuit, and one that feels like it's burning your skin at that. (Of course, mine seemed to be cutting off my circulation, so that couldn't have helped.)
` So, at this point, my mask was now sliding into my mouth, where it was threatening to wedge my mouth open and cover it at the same time. However, I fought back courageously with my lower jaw and at long last, worked my right arm into my sleeve a little more! Finally, I managed to flex my right elbow far enough to grab a hold of the aberrant piece of diving equipment. I was safe...-er!
` And where was Lou, you ask? Why, he was rushing to my side at that moment to give me a pep talk and reposition my mask, which was, at that point, somewhere between my ears and my shoulders. However, all the gurgling, coughing and gasping issuing from myself drew attention from the instructor, who apparently is - for some reason - transformed into Mr. Uptight by the seawater. (And, I wouldn't be surprised, by the wetsuit.)
` He asked if I had some sort of physical ailment. I told him that I still couldn't move my left side in my wetsuit. (Recall that my right side is smaller than my left). He asked; "No numbness?" (Though I technically have plenty of that anyway) I said "No, I'm not numb, it's just that my wetsuit is too tight!"
` So, Locker Guy swam over and helped me out by pulling my wetsuit on further. For the first time I felt dampness against my skin! He explained that sometimes you can work up too much before going into the water so that it practically becomes watertight!
` To my astonishment I could actually move my legs a little bit! I was suddenly all smiles thankses and felt much less like a potential drowning victim. Then, Lou moved my mask back into position - once again without lifting up the strap! My hair was not only slackened, but a lot of it was pitched forward and I probably looked like a porcupine in a windstorm. I tried to take it off again to smooth my hair back down and put my mask on the right way, but Lou stopped me once again.
` Luckily, Locker Guy saw this and told Lou to let me douse my hair for once before putting it back on, and that's when I was able to explain why it kept sliding downwards. So finally, I get my mask on, I get my snorkel in, I'm breathing, I can move my legs enough to kick, and for once was able to snorkel correctly to our next stop... shore.
` As I repeatedly fell on the rocky beach, Lou got out of the water behind me and discovered the joys of ear-water-induced vertigo. So, both Uptight Man and Locker Guy had to drag us pathetic-looking cases across the rocky beach as we swayed and pitched and in general unsuccessfully tried to keep ourselves upright.
` When we finally clambered up the stairs, that was when I looked down at my arms and saw that my wetsuit was hitched nearly up to my knees and elbows - and it was still hard to move! In other words, the sleeves and pant legs were clearly way too short for me, plus they were painfully squeezing my arms and legs to boot!
` That time across the road, thankfully, was only like having ten pound weights on my arms, shoulders and legs (as opposed to twenty pounds), though I was shivering rather violently. Even so, I still could not get my fins off, nor my suit - Lou and the Locker guy again had to come to my rescue. It actually took both of them to peel just one leg off - and it was also somewhat painful because my bladder was as full as it was... and don't think I wasn't tempted to pee in my wetsuit while I was freezing my ass off in the ocean!
` Locker Guy then explained to me that the torso part of my wetsuit fit very well, and that's the part you want to fit - otherwise you'd lose your core heat pretty fast. However, the fact that I have very long arms and legs as compared to my torso is what made my wetsuit most ill-fitting. He said that there are no pre-made wetsuits with my body type because not enough people are like that; I'd have to actually get a custom wetsuit made for me!
` Well, aren't I special?
` After being broken free, and shivering in the cool air and the shade, I then had the privelage of peeing behind the trailer in full view of the road! Whoo!

` From there, it was directly back to the tender. And while we were sitting in the little boat, I happened to notice that pigeon you might remember from a previous post, which had learned how to drink from a little freshwater spigot on the pier.

` As for Lou and I, it was high time to get our own drink! Luckily, our boat was filled with tons of bars, so we hit the one that had the most pretty colors!

` While we crouched at a table, recovering from sore muscles (and a near-drowning experience), we happened to look up and see a most frightening entity that only resides on Carnival Cruise ships. It has a monstrous smokestack for a head and looks most evil, although - strangely - people like to call it... Fun Ship Freddy!

` I somehow have come to suspect that this misshapen creature really isn't fun at all! He's just called that because he lives on a Fun Ship. In fact, another blogger has also questioned the benevolence of this horribly deformed mutant in an amusing little article....
` As it would turn out, we decided not to get any liquor, though Lou discovered that it is amazingly cheap onboard! How cheap? Would you believe we paid this much for a big ol' bottle of Bombay Blue Sapphire?

Normal Earth Price: $25.00 per fifth (.76 liter).
Carnival Cruise Alien Spaceship Price: $15.00 per liter.

` Finally, when it came time to hang out with the other people at our dinner table by the window, we found that it was 'formal night', and I believe it was also just after a party with the captain - a little Italian guy with an amazing amount of smarm.
` It was quite interesting that evening; a bunch of the restaurant workers got up on stage and started singing Italian songs! Our severs were the only two who manually shook their vocal cords to add some vibrato to their voices. It was hilarious! And to add to that, Lou actually took out his lighter to signal 'encore!'
` And then everyone took some pictures! That's us looking weird on the left, Candi, Wiley, our awesome servers by the window, the mediocre couple and the Church couple.

` We planned to meet at 23:30 (11:30 pm) in order to sit in the same booth during Lowell Sanders' second comedy routine, and that meeting place was the American Bar. It just so happens that there was a guy playing the piano (which the bar also literally resembles). I asked him if I could play something of my own making, and guess what?

` Oh yes! Time for Spoony and her strange music to shine and weird people out! However, after the first song I had to get going as midnight was upon us. We managed to find the booth in the back corner of the auditorium.
` The reason that this show was at midnight was because it contained words rhyming with 'duck' and 'fit'. And was it funny!! At the same time, I spent a little while trying to get a non-blurry shot of Lowell, though my camera happens to have a very bright green light. Lowell said; "Hey, what is that green light? Is someone trying to get me with a laser?"
` Busted.
` Well, I guess this photo will have to do:

` Isn't he cute?
` Anyway, now that I've spent several days working on this post off and on, I think I'm going to take a little break from blogging... by getting back to my homework. You know, because that's considerably more important. Anyway, I hope everyone agrees that this post was worth waiting for.
` ...And if you don't agree, I will kick you in the balls (or ball, singular, whichever the case may be). And, if you do not have any balls, I will find some other form of punishment involving Lou and a salted whip.


Galtron said...

You bet it was worth the wait! This is one of your best yet! The pics were great and your stories were gripping... For a minute there, I thought you had drowned! :P

Haint Crabby said...

How come you didn't take me with you? Huh? HUh?
That's ok. I got some new computer wallpaper from your pics. LOL! Between you and the wizened wizard, I'm set on wallpaper.

G-Man said...

SpoonTan, the lounge Lizzard..
Great pictorial Sweetie, I'll miss you..Study hard, We'll be waitin..

Dan said...

Oh no! Spoony almost drowned! I feel so bad that you had such a terrible time with that wetsuit. But Lou was ever the gentlemen, being so solicitous to you the entire time. What a guy.

I suggest that you come over with a web suit and we practice putting it on and taking it off. That's the only way to perfect that sort of thing.

And bring Bombay Blue Sapphire.

S E E Quine said...

` Galtron, I am glad you have such concern about whether or not I really had drowned or lived to tell the tale. Thanks for being my most loyal reader (or at least commenter)!

` Ah, Crabby, I should have taken you with me so that you could have been eaten by sharks instead of killed with fresh fruit. (Should have brought a tiger with you. Or was it a two-ton weight? Or a gun? I forget which one you use to defend yourself from pineapples....)
` Also I'm glad I can be able to produce wallpaper for others! Actually, just the other day I saw that my boyfriend was the wallpaper on my friend's computer!

` G-man, you bet I'll study hard! I have a mid-term tomorrow!

` Indeed, Dan, Lou is quite wonderful. Without him I probably would have died horribly.
` BTW, I'll bring Sapphire, but I don't know what a web suit is....

Gareth said...

I really think you need to get a bird as a pet because you obviously have some sort of fascination with them. Hey maybe you were a bird in a past life. Hmmmmm ......

Laughing my butt off at the swimsuit story. I guess you are unfamiliar with clothing so you have an excuse ;-)

Happy (belated) VD :P

monado said...

That was a nice, long post about your trip. I think I've been on that little yellow submarine--I was at Catalina Island a couple of years ago. Fascinating place. They have their own species (or subspecies) of fox and some of the rock looks like marble to me. I've never been on a cruise ship, though. I really like your seagull pictures.

I'm going to show your misadventures with the wet suit to someone who's planning to do a triathlon. It must have sucked to go on a special outing and spend all the time uncomfortable and worried.

S E E Quine said...

` Yes, Gareth, I wantonly run around naked, without any swimwear of any kind.

` What a coincidink, Monado! If only you could go with me next time to Catalina so we could go species-hunting! Touristy things are so boring.
` Indeed, the whole wet suit fiasco was so overwhelming that I really couldn't pay much attention to what fish I was looking at.
` ...Strangely, though, I was at least one of the few people who noticed the dolphins.

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