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Ottawa, Ontario

Just a little corner of the interwebz where I occasionally jot down a thought or two. Why do I do it? Partly to communicate in some way with you, the reader, and partly because it's some sad way of leaving a legacy of some kind I guess.



yo ho yo ho

Jonathan Tom

This last week was my first week back out on a ship since I left for land life a couple of years ago. I wasn’t taking a pleasure cruise or anything; I was, in fact, out there for work to prepare for the Oprah Magazine Adventure of Your Life cruise on Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam. To the point, I really enjoyed being back out at sea. I knew that I would miss the camaraderie that I had with fellow crew members but I didn’t expect to miss the ship itself and being at sea. Don’t misunderstand me, there is certainly something uniquely attractive about being at sea but after having been at sea for the better part of two decades it wasn’t something I was anticipating would bring nostalgia. That being said, it was really nice to be out there for the week - I’m now back home in Ottawa and enjoying the crisp fall air before it turns into the biting chill of winter.

The view at sea.

out east

Jonathan Tom

It's fair to say that I've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things; six continents, dozens of countries, and hundreds of cultural experiences. They say that the last places you ever really explore are the places you live, be it your city, your province (or state), or your country. This week I get to check off another province from my list and thus complete my tour of the Canadian provinces which leaves me with just two of the territories left: the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Enough about the future though, this week I am in Newfoundland near St. Johns and while it's only been a few days it's been really picturesque and all around lovely. Earlier in the week I made it out to Quidi Vidi with my sister for brunch at Mallard Cottage where we split (family style) rhubarb French toast and a pork eggs benny before taking a walk around the area.

Quidi Vidi

We also took a day and wend out to Cape Spear which is the eastern-most point of North America excluding the Danish-controlled Greenland. It's a pretty cool location as you can see from the first photograph in this post which depicts my niece and I on one of the boardwalks there.

Throughout the week I'm planning on trying to make it out to a few other places that have been left on a must-see list for me before heading back to Ottawa. 

a farewell to ship life

Jonathan Tom

A friend shared this post on Facebook today and, though it's been over a year since I stepped off my last ship as a crew member, it still resonnated with me so here are some excerpts but if you can spare a 5 minute read I highly recommend swinging by Derek's Blog for this particular post.

‘Ship life’ is the term used by all the thousands of cruise ship crew members worldwide to describe the unique lifestyle that defines the entire essence of our existence. Whether working on board a 150,000 ton, 3000 passenger ocean liner or a 500 passenger ultra-luxury ship, ‘ship life’ involves the rules, both written and unwritten, the interactions of several hundred crew members representing over fifty nationalities, the late nights in the crew bar and the fish head soup (popular among the large Filipino segment of the workforce), the fake smiles and ‘good afternoon madams’, the cabin inspections, the obnoxious guests, the security screenings, the consistently failing relationships. Nepalese security guards, Ukrainian dancers, Filipino deck hands, South African hair stylists, Moldovan bartenders – everyone survives in an unfathomable underworld that rules every second of how we live and work.

Crew members always joke to each other that the best times off the ship are simply when the ship itself is not in sight. A day spent on a beach with the ship still in view is pointless and better spent on ‘metal beach’, the crew sunbathing area on the topmost deck of the vessel. For those that can get far enough away in order to truly release the day’s frustrations, they undoubtedly enjoy an extremely valuable period of time. But once you re-enter the port gates at the end of your day, and you wipe the sand from between your toes, that first glimpse of the ship forces a dreaded yet necessary alteration in mindset. Back to the routine, back to the ‘ship life.’

Now, when I try to fall asleep each night, the strong winds cause the willow trees outside my window to sway, leaving my room itself completely unaffected by its gusts. Although I no longer wish to float upon the seven seas, I still close my eyes in the hopes of fading into some sort of familiar dream, perhaps one in which the white sands stretch forever, the money flows and the world is my home.

Photo by Sean O. on Unsplash

green mountains

Jonathan Tom

They call it the Green Mountain state - a place I've been going to off and on for as long as I can remember. My family has a time share near Stowe and to say it's breath taking would be an understatement. In the mornings it's nice to get up, grab a coffee (or a tea) and head out to the porch which overlooks a valley which is usually filled with clouds until the sun crests and burns them off.

It's surprisingly quiet given the number of people spread across the grounds of the time share but even given that fact it almost feels, at times, as if it's just you and the mountain. If that's the ultimate goal though there are plenty of trails around that can take you anywhere from an hour or two to a day or two out into the woods. While I probably won't partake in any long hikes I am looking forward to having some time there this year - now that the family has grown it's not possible to have all of us there at the same time. There are two rooms and a pull out bed in the living room so, at most, the unit can accommodate six people and that is a definite stretch so when a year like this year comes around where it's just my parents and myself... well, let's just say it's hard to turn down.

Recently my parents got the opportunity to secure a week in the fall as well and I'm very interested in checking the same area out in autumn. It won't be on the agenda this year but maybe next year we can make that happen. All in all, it's nice to have a decompression week coming up soon in the green mountains.

Photo by Brad Fickeisen on Unsplash