This boat has been going now for almost 24 hours since Ketchikan. It's a beautiful place to be but eventually it all starts to look the same and I await anxiously for landfall tomorrow morning. And then of course it will be the reality of down south. Open space, tangled freeways, and so many choices. I'm not sure I'm ready for all this right away. I may need to drive a few miles from Bellilngham, park my car, and get away on foot or bike for a few hours - as a way of adjusting more slowly to my new reality.
The confines of this boat become more and more obvious with each hour. I recognize everyone now, and all their patterns. This in turn means all these people recognize me. I do my best to avoid eye contact so as to avoid direct conversation, but eventually confinement wins. It's not that I"m entirely opposed to conversing with strangers, but this kind of forced small talk with people I would otherwise not ever be in contact with is a bit difficult for me. Slowly I see it taking place more and more throughout the boat, but I'm always able to avert my eyes to some other task - reading a book, eating a sandwich, taking a nap - so as to avoid direct involvement in these conversations.
But then it's hard for me to not listen. There's the drunk guy who says "you know" at least once in every sentence and has preached to at least 2 other travelers the importance of the right to bear arms and that anyone who has ever shot a gun in their life should be a lifetime member of the NRA. Luckily he's spent almost all of his time in the coctail lounge, which I have yet to venture into.
An amusing conversation between 2 strangers at dinner tonight: one man needs to be able to run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes to pass a test for some reason. I missed the beginning of the conversation so I never caught what this test was actually for. Between the two of them they basically convinced each other that this was an impossible feat for anyone other than Olympic class runners. They were certain after all that the world record for the mile was somewhere around 6:00. Even the guy who claimed to have run most everyday this winter to get ready for this seemed to believe this. As the conversation unfolded he went from being somewhat convinced he could actually do it to being certain that few people in the world could do it. He looked healthy and fit. When he runs this thing in about 9:00 he'll probably be contacting sponsors to back his Olympic dreams.