You know it’s done from the weight of the wallet now in your back pocket. The jingle of keys you didn’t have to carry the past 6 days. You stand slightly swaying, to the bemusement of those around you, but the ground is steady and firm and you are not drunk. All the friends old and new are with you, bleary eyed from the final night’s celebration. At once sad and happy, shuffling lines are formed and last hugs are shared. Maybe happy isn’t quite the right word, because the sadness is pretty strong. Perhaps “satisfied and thankful” strikes a more accurate note. All I know after JoCoCruiseCrazy is this, the ramp down off the ship seems so much shorter than the ramp up to the ship a week ago.
I’m not a cruise person, at least I never imagined myself to be one. I’ve avoided Rochelle’s many requests for a cruise in the Caribbean for several reasons. So I thought I would finish off this series with a quick recap of a pasty pudgy geek’s impression of boat life and what the individual details were that I was so against/worried about.
First of all I knew from many friends one thing: Do not skimp. If you can spend money, do it. You will not regret it. Take the amount of money you would feel comfortable spending on a crazy vacation and double it, just to be safe. The reason being is that once the ship departs, you’re on the ship. If you run out of money three days in, well that means meals and sodas are free, as is the view, but uh…not much else is.
All told, for airfare from Seattle to Florida round trip, one night hotel room before heading back, JoCoCruiseCrazy entertainment fee, the state room on the ship, excursions, and on the boat expenses, the cost per head came out to around $2700 or roughly $5400 for the both of us. But in that we got 6 days at sea on an amazing boat in a large balcony room, tons of fruity rum drinks, nights at the best concerts we would want to go to (it being JoCoCruiseCrazy and all), swimming with dolphins and riding horses in the sea, awesome food, and trips to the spa and whatnot.
I was worried about several things.
The Sick that is the Sea. Of sickness. Also Nausea. You get what I mean.
First off I was worried about sea sickness. I’ve been on boats all my life, from lake/ski/cabin cruiser boats of my childhood on Texas lakes, to ferries and catamarans in the PacNW. I’ve only ever been seasick one time. And that was on a trip on a high speed catamaran out to see whales in Boston. 27 knots in choppy seas, and me stupidly downing three beers and a hot dog before we left. As anyone will tell you, once you are seasick once, you forever live in fear of being seasick again. It’s been 9 years since that event and still I was petrified of being at sea for that long. We stocked up on Dramamine and acupuncture wrist bands, neither one of which we really wanted to use. So we boarded the boat using the wrist bands since they weren’t reliant on pills. We took them off the night of the first day.
Yes, we could feel the boat moving. Yes, it took getting used to. Yes, occasionally during the week we felt the gentle roll of the boat unexpectedly. But I can honestly say even when I had enjoyed quite a bit to drink, even at the boat’s rolliest, I had no issues with sea sickness. In fact, for several days after the cruise, while I didn’t get land sickness, I had trouble falling asleep, so accustomed had I become to the gentle lulling to sleep of the side to side motion. Rochelle and I never took any Dramamine nor used the wrist bands again the entire trip. In fairness, the weather was smooth, and the roll of the ship never really did anything other than make you go “whoa!” once or twice during the trip. But I was amazed at how at home and comforted I felt.
THE SUN. IT BURNS. WE MUST COLLAPSE THE SUN.
I packed diligently, several tubes of SPF 70. Hats. Breathable shirts. I was all ready for my childhood expectations of 100 degree Texas summer days. By the end of the trip I sat on the deck, smoking a cigar, hatless and sunblockless in the partly sunny 80 degree weather wanting to go back in time and punch pudgy pale white me right in the cancer fear. Yes there was sun, yes sometimes I got hot, yes I had to be a little bit careful. But in the end, I just wish I had relaxed a lot more. There’s a couple of moments in the harsh light of our star that I wish I had been less fearful: Riding a horse in the cold salt ocean, holding a dolphin’s fins as he swam me back to the edge, feeling the bright light wash over me as I sipped a cold Red Stripe and watched Rochelle run fast figure eights in the bay of Ocho Rios.
Next time I will leave behind a lot of safety clothes and just go with sunblock.
Ok let’s just get this out of the way, FUCK SAND. Fuck it right in the ear. I hate sand. When I was four sand killed my best friend. When I was eight, sand killed twelve more of them. Sand is my natural predator. My fear was that I would end up with sand all over me and everywhere. I had bought sandals…SANDALS people. This is like me saying I bought SHOULDER PADS and SHIN GUARDS for….sporty….purposes. In fact I got screwed by sand on my first day by wearing my sandals and not taking them off on the beach, thereby shredding the skin on my feet. But my key fear was that with all the sandy ports of call I would end up being the king of sand and singing like Sting about being so. The reality was that after having my skin abraded by our initial port of call (turning the top of my feet a splotched red and white) as long as I remembered to take any shoes off when encountering sand everything was…well ok. I felt embarrassed throughout the week that my initial mistake carried with me so long, but the damage was cosmetic and a little aloe worked it all out. And although sand, as I said, CAN SUCK IT, it wasn’t really a big deal beyond that.
Cruise life was incredible. I love my friends, and I love everyone who was on board the boat. But if they weren’t there, I can say we still would have had a great time. The experience for a non cruise person who is a hard core geek was life changing and incredible. I would say to you reading this if it sounds like it’s outside your comfort zone, DO IT. Especially do it if you can be with other people in the same mental place. You will have support, you will have love, you will have that thing that makes us geeks: Awareness to expand our experiences.
Jonathan Coulton: My thanks are in the inscription of your copy of my book. In summary, thank you so much for the opportunity.
Paul and Storm and families: You guys already know my thanks. However being with your families was an amazing adventure and Rochelle and I are so thankful for being a part of it.
Paul F. Tompkins: HAHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHAHAHA. AHAHAHAHAH I GOT TO BE ON A BOAT AND YOU HAD TO GO WORK AHAHAHAHAHAHA. [Editor’s note to self, tone this down a bit and remember this dude is really funnier than you could hope to be]
Wil Wheaton and Family: Anne, I’m pretty sure you and Rochelle have some type of amazing snorkel adventure in your future, be sure to hit her up for it. Ryan and Nolan: Start giving Wil crap anytime he gets pissy with you by saying “Wil, I don’t know if you know, but we have now established ourselves as being really pretty good guys.” Wil, smoking cigars in view of Cuba over scotch was, in it’s own funny silly way, epic. Your writings inspired me to take the chance.
Mike Phirman: Seriously? Dude just re-read the past six entries. I made a mythos for you. sheesh. <g> We still love listening to your tracks and just imagining your performing them.
Liz: Don’t tell Rochelle you are my secret love. I SAID DON’T TELL ROCHELLE.
Molly Lewis and Chris: You guys make me smile no matter where we run into each other. If there’s any place I can be, any song I can sing, any uke I can carry to help you guys out I am there.
John Roderick: I am blessed in every way that you are local to me. I was floored not only by you and getting to know you, but The Long Winters Music has really impacted me.
John Hodgman: If comedy can be said to be relentless, yours is the best kind. As Leslie Neilson once was paraphrased, “I don’t get it, I say serious things in serious ways and people laugh” you have brought a level which makes someone actually laugh out loud when you say something like “I played scrabble as a child against William F. Buckley. I found his entries latitudinarian, and built off that for a triple word score.”
Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy: There’s not much I can say here. From my appreciation of “The clock on the wall says ‘That’s all’ for the stridex medicated band hour” and you both recognizing that, to my also saying “It’s like getting hit over the head with a surfboard of flavor!” and you both recognizing that, you guys rock my world with Rifftrax and Mystery Science Theater goodness and just being anywhere on an anything with you was a highlight of my life, not even taking into account your wonderful families and kids.
Lastly, to a person that I discovered via a w00tstock video months ago and got to play craps with, perform with, and in general stand next to his awesomeness. Peter Sagal. Your delivery is perfect, your wit sublime. Thank you so much for letting me watch you work. Awesome stuff all around.
And I think that’s it. Wait. Something is digging into my pocket….ow, something sharp…
OMG its my JoCoCruiseCrazy pencil, sharpened by David Rees.
Now that guy. He has a future.
SeaMonkeys: What can I say. You came to see me as part of a larger troupe of folks. Everyone one of you was amazing and fun and I still cannot believe you were there. I cannot wait for our next encounter, because it will start with "I was a sea monkey" and that means I will give you a hug.*
*Note: Hug may come with purell.