Monday, 3 June 2019

Voyage to Nowhere

This is the simple side of this cruise story of mine.

Ever since the 5th grade, I've had this interest in seeing Norwegian Fjords.  This goes back to loaned movies to the school of National Geographic pieces, and it was one of the top ten things I wanted to see in my life.  My wife had this interest in testing a we put these two together....found this tour company, and arranged a 7-day cruise from Amsterdam (flying there from Frankfurt), up to the Fjords for three days, and one day in Tilbury, UK.....then back to Amsterdam.  Nice cabin, full drink tab, etc.

Another element of this is the German TV series 'Love Boat' (they film three of these per year and give you the impression of a great life on cruises). 

So we arrived, boarded, and set sail at 5 PM on Thursday of last week.  We waved to folks on the dock (mostly a guy walking a dog.....two druggie-looking guys....and a woman riding a bike). Then we stood there for about 40 minutes as we backed out of the 'stall' and sailed toward the canal and onto the ocean.

Around 6 PM, we had this training to evacuate the ship and were introduced to two life-jackets in our cabin....that appeared to be of Wal-Mart quality (the $9.99 type).  There was something about 3-bells and 7 bells....that part I remember but not to the degree required. (ask Navy guys about this bell business)

Around 7 PM, I noted us pass (still on the canal) some industrial area.  It was the kind of landscape that made a great picture.  Then we entered into the ship, spent 70 minutes eating, and exited on the opposite side.  Then we kinda noticed this industrial area landscape on that side (the same area), and I commented to the wife, we'd turned around.  About ten minutes later, we 'parked' on some ramp area, and the Captain said.....well.....we struck 'something', and he was asking frogmen to come out and analyze the 'damage'.  What?  Well....he couldn't say.  I would suggest a tree trunk, a 55-gallon drum, or some Russian sub.  The wife didn't take well to the sub idea.

We stayed parked there till about 1 AM, and then sailed on.  At 8 AM (Friday), the Captain comes on the intercom and says.....things are fine, and he's going back to max speed (16 knots) to make up for 7 hours lost on 'damage' review.

Friday is fine.....but along about 12:30 that night (after midnight).....this intercom in the room goes active with 3 bells.  I was sound asleep, but I went into Desert Storm mode, and thinking 'fox-hole' or bunker.....then realized the ship situation, and went to grab the Wal-Mart life-jackets.  He says.....well.....shocker, at top speed, there's a vibration.  The gears are messed up and the propeller is not working well.  So he was cancelling the cruise.

Naturally, with the German wife....the next hour was spent listening to her grumbling.

Saturday?  It was turn-around day and we sailed on back toward Amsterdam.  New problem now.....what port do we land in?  Amsterdam and Rotterdam are issue in a two-day parking, but this was a repair deal and might be there five to seven days.  So we end up aiming toward a no-name port about 15 miles west of Amsterdam (in that industrial area). 

We land at 7 AM Sunday.  Here's the one knows nothing.  Not the Captain, the tour agents, or even the bartenders. 

Around noon, they announce that everyone stays onboard til Monday except the Dutch folks (they can leave the ship). The Brits have to wait until Tuesday when they can special buses to take them by ferry back to the UK. The Germans (including me) can exit Monday morning.  Then here's the plus-up.....all your money back on the trip, a free-trip voucher (must be used in 2 years), and 25 Brit pounds in free drinking credit.  So the other story came up.....folks were planning for our return trip and things would all be fixed on Monday.

Well....we get on this bus.  An hour later, we are in the port area of Amsterdam, and then get received by this Dutch lady.  She knows nothing, and says you need to get home on your own. Yep, we were 'dumped' by the ship.  My return airline tickets? Set for Thursday afternoon.....but no hotel deals from the ship folks.  So I buy $300 worth of train tickets to return.  The return of the money for the trip?  I'm about 99-percent it will happen.  But part of me is wife is 99-percent suspicious and doubts the money will ever come back.  I think they will pay me for the train tickets (at least they hinted that part). 

So, we went nowhere for four days.....saw the Fjords of the Netherlands (mostly the industrial area)....I sipped through 30 Gin Sours over four days (all watered down).....then the great adventure ended. 

What I took away with the trip?  Well....of 1,400 passengers.....probably 1,250 were Brits over the age of 60, and half of them were over 70 years old.  Food was bland, and the drinks all watered down.  No one working for the cruise line.....on the ship.....seems to know anything. If they do bring on a comedian for entertainment.....the guys jokes are mostly from the 1970s.  Fashion from the Brits ranged from modern clothing styles of the 1970s.  As for that German 'Love Boat' show?  Man, nothing came to work or feel like the show pretends. 

That was the voyage to nowhere. 

CO2 and Hardwoods

I sat this past week and was reading over climate change, CO2, and then came to this odd discussion which you never hear much about.

Plants (trees, grass, shrubs, bushes, etc) take up carbon dioxide (CO2), run through photosynthesis, and in the end....make glucose. 

For statistical averages.....for every six molecules of CO2....the plants take and create ONE molecule of glucose.  More CO2, more glucose.  If you doubled up on CO2, the plants would double up on glucose production. 

For a fast growing plant (or tree), the more CO2 it uses up.  So you could look at this idea and suggest....well, why not plant bamboo in massive quantities (one of the faster growing products in existence)?

But fast growing plants have the lesser life span.  As they die....between bugs, microbes and just plain release....all that bundled up CO2 goes back into the system.  So logic dictates....hardwood trees, which would live longer and bundle the CO2 for dispersal decades longer. 

Making the planting of hardwood trees a high priority?  No, it's almost non-existent in terms of talking over the CO2 issue in climate control.