Even after dancing the night away last night, we were all up at 7 am to see the boat through the Juan de Fuca straits for the home stretch. We gathered up on the top deck and cheered as the pilot stepped on board to see us into port. It was an exhilerating moment that was topped off by Leslie singing "I'm leaving on a jetplane" over the PA to celebrate reaching 2000 fans on Facebook. (Thanks to all of you that joined by the way. We hope you continue to follow the JR long after this expedition becomes distant memory.) The top deck was full of excitement - even more excitement than when we boarded the JR. Just an awesome feeling. And awesome to see land again. Around 8:45 this morning, we officially "landed" when the first rope was thrown and tied up. After the crew set up our gangway, it took a grand total of 20 minutes for Canadian customs to clear us for departure and only seconds for several of us to jump ship and head for the hotel. After overwhelming the bellboy with all our luggage, we jetted off to the first eatery we could find for a non-galley breakfast. It felt so great to walk more than 50 feet in one direction then just keep going. It was the little things we missed - trees, shops, streets, street lights, grass, variety in the scenery.... It was SO wonderful to just return to normal life.
I spent my first day back on land wandering around Victoria, re-familiarizing myself with the streets and the scenery and enjoying some good ol' window shopping. Around 3 pm, I checked in to my hotel room (a double suite!!) and crashed for a good 3 hours. I slept better than a rock! When I awoke, I was ready for some nourishment (ate Vietnamese!) and join the post-cruise party. Then it was time for a nice shower (in bathtub!) and beauty rest in a queen size bed. Ah, wonderful day back on land!
I thought I would have some serious sea legs but I walked off the boat thinking "I feel normal. This is great! No sea legs!" The thing about sea legs though (and plane turbulence actually) is that you don't feel it when you're moving - only when you're standing or sitting still. I didn't stumble or walk into people inadvertently like I expected to. Instead, I had my first "sea legs" moment standing stationary in the bathroom washing my hands. Just as I was rinsing off the last bit of soap, I felt myself leaning and had to take a step backward to keep from falling over. In that small bathroom, I could actually feel the room gently swaying. Weird. My second "sea legs" moment came as I was laying in the grass looking up at the clouds and feeling the gentle breeze. I could feel the earth gently swaying back and forth and I could feel gravity increasing gently then decreasing as if I was still on the boat. I had to get up and walk to feel like I was on land again.
Other surprising sensations were:
-- my inability to operate my cell phone. How do I turn this thing on again?
-- forgetting my PIN number. I literally stared at the ATM for a solid 30 seconds before trying three different numbers. Fortunately, the third time was a charm and I was able to get cash for the artisan market down the street.
-- enjoying TV. After 2 months of "Armed Forces Network" (the only network that broadcasts to the Pacific Ocean), I really enjoyed flipping through some familiar channels.
-- having a blast dancing. I'm not much of a dancer unless I'm *very* comfortable with the people I'm with. Apparently, after sailing with this crew for 2 months, I felt comfortable enough to get down with Salt N Pepa and Lady Gaga. Didn't think I'd be dancing at all but I'm glad I did. I had a great time.
-- being a little sad to leave. I was so excited to get off the boat, I didn't think I would be the slightest bit sad. I waited so patiently for this day but now that it's here, it's a bittersweet moment saying good-bye to my new friends and colleagues. I'm confident, though, that we've fostered a bond that is for life. There is nothing like sailing in that respect.
It was a long 2 months but at the same time, it almost feels like I never left Victoria. Except now, I have 2 months' worth of memories and 50 or so new friendships to carry back to normal land-locked life. Despite the challenging moments, I'm glad I went on Expedition 327. I would not have traded this experience for the more convenient 2 months on land. I hope you all enjoyed following the blog as much as I enjoyed writing the entries. Until the next cruise, thanks for riding along on my JR journey! :)