I really might miss the ship today

It’s another embark day, but this time we’re in Seward, Alaska. I was prepared to resent Seward for not being Vancouver, our other home port. Plus, after three weeks in Alaska, I thought I was over the ex-gold-rush towns with a few blocks of bars, new age gift shops, and Alaska t-shirts. But on the 2-mile walk into town, the scenery impressed even this benumbed cruiser. The main street ends at a rocky beach with a 180-degree view of the inlet, bookshelved by snowcapped mountains extending all the way to the horizon. The sky, though hazy, is pure blue. Every once in awhile, some seals pop their brown, whiskered heads above water. The only way to appreciate the enormity of it is to try to fit it into a camera shot. I gave up, and chilled out on a rock for about an hour.

One thing about the Alaskan ports: they absolutely love their coffee here. Or they assume we tourists love OUR coffee; I’m not sure which. But this is the first time I’ve ever seen a trailer-sized wilderness store advertising “Hiking, Mountain Biking, Kayaking, Ice Climbing, and Espresso”! I found a coffee place in town that advertised free internet, and since they have power outlets, I could theoretically sit here till the ship is already headed for Juneau.

The Sea Bean Cafe is well-lit by front windows, but feels cozy and warm with its burgundy walls, mismatched couches and rugs. An antique trunk sits in place of a coffee table, books and games line a heavy wooden bookshelf, and nautical-themed pictures line the walls: old posters, woodcuts, maps, and a painting. I’m a sucker for interesting fonts, so I love the signage and the frilly hand-painted menu on the back wall. The place feels individualized and homemade, the decorations hand-picked, so I try to ignore the corporate-sounding, requisite catchy three-word slogan printed on the window next to me. “sit. sip. surf.” … barf.) I like to think I’m beyond subconscious consumer targeting. But I like this place so much I don’t know whether to feel thrilled or manipulated.

Anyhoo… I meant to make these entries a little bit about ship life. Two days ago, I heard that a friend of mine from the art gallery might be signing back on the ship. I crossed my fingers, as I hadn’t expected to see Nicola for years, if ever. She was home in South Africa, and could be transferred to any gallery in several fleets. Then today I got a Facebook message from Nicola saying, “I just found out I’m coming to Alaska!” That’s the power of ship-gossip; I found out two days before she did!

Since the ship internet is too slow to make graphic-heavy websites navigable, I like to spend hours of port-time browsing cartoonists’ websites. I looked up Jen Vaughn, a cool cartoonist I keep running into at cons, then clicked around till I found Colleen AF Venable‘s articles on design at the First Second website, then started reading some of their comics online… I was bummed about missing MOCCA this year, so it’s nice to feel connected to other cartoonists, if only virtually.

Okay, the Scrabble game to my left just ended, and the stereo is playing “Mack the Knife” for the second time. I think I’ve been sitting in this cafe too long.


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