Monday, December 13, 2010

Recollections: The Sea and me (part 2 of 3)

This is a continuation of my post of 4 December, 2010,when I talked about my fascination for the sea and how it started. I had decided that I would have a career on the sea. I sent a letter to the French Navy, while in high school, asking how I could best prepare myself academically to join the Navy. Their response was that I could not join for service on ship, only as a nurse in a Navy hospital, on land. I was totally devastated.

Old French Navy Poster (Join the Navy)

My father said that I should finish my studies successfully and get married. My mother said that I should save my money and travel by sea or air by myself and that I did not need the Navy. This is what I did. When I had saved enough for a passage to the USA, I left for New York on a ship. I had obtained a “green card” so I could work to afford any future trip and to return home to Paris.

Postcard of the T/S Hanseatic, the ship I took to go to New York in 1961

I’ll talk more about my coming to the USA in a future post since this one is more about the sea. I lived in San Francisco for many years where I could be near the sea. I went back to France several times and often would first stop in London then take the ferry to France. I also would go to Mers-les-Bains in Normandy with my parents for a few days.

In 1967 I was married, in San Francisco, but whenever I had a chance I would still go to the sea. Below is a ferry to cross to Catalina Island from Los Angeles, California.

photo of ferry to Catalina Island, California, with my old camera

When we moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I would visit my French friend in New York and somehow get close to the water and look at ships.

Vintage postcard of New York harbor with ferry and ship, circa 1911

The ship touring Manhattan Island was not a long voyage, but it was still being on board a ship.

Click on picture to enlarge

When my father passed away in 1974 I tried to visit my mother at least once every other year. I would also try to go on little side trips, and often these included being close to the sea, like visiting my Armenian cousins in Egypt.

On the Nile, near Luxor, Egypt

During the summers with our little daughters we would spend some time by the sea, either in Savannah, on one of the Golden Isles of Georgia or in Florida.

On an south Atlantic Ocean beach, circa 1975

When my mother started to be ill, I would go and visit her twice a year, in the spring and the fall. Sometimes I had extra compensation time from work and would be able to also go to Paris for several days during the Christmas vacation. As a side trip once I visited my Dubai friends in December and I asked them to take me close to the sea.

By a boat in Dubai, December 1988 or 89

In the mid 1990s my husband, daughter and I went on the ferry crossing the St Lawrence River from Rivière du Loup to St. Siméon, Québec, in Canada. It was not a large ship, but it was still being on water. Later we also took the ferries going to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, from Vancouver and also from Seattle (we went to Victoria 3 different times.)

Ferry crossing the St Lawrence River (photo courtesy Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping) and my (bad) picture of the clipper ferry in Seattle going to Vancouver Island.

Another time, after visiting my mother in Paris, I took a side trip to Thailand. In the picture below I look “pleased as punch” to be riding in this smooth boat in Bangkok, Thailand.

In Thailand, 1991

Going on a ferry was also a treat. In 1996 on yet another side trip to Africa I took the ferry from Dakar to the Island of Gorée in Sénégal. Below is the picture I snapped from a restaurant, looking toward the ferry.

Photo of the ferry to the island of Gorée in Sénégal (from my old camera)

A few hours from Dakar there were more boats to be seen. The Pink Lake of Retba in Sénégal is shallow and has such a high content of salt that it appears pink.

Pink Lake in Sénégal, Africa (from my old camera)

While in Luang Prabang, Laos, my daughter and I took a small boat on the Mekong River.

Daughter on the Mekong River, Laos (taken with my old camera)

We toured the Tam Ting Caves, which means “Cave of a thousand Buddhas.” It was an extraordinary journey.

View inside the Cave of a thousand Buddhas, Laos (photo courtesy Asia Explorers)

When we visited our other daughter, in Long Beach, California, she invited my husband and I for a Father’s Day Brunch on the Queen Mary, which is birthed right there. It was an elegant meal, with many gourmet dishes.

Father’s Day on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Ca., 2003

The following year we went back for the Christmas Day brunch and it was also very special. Touring this large ship made me so homesick for a real voyage at sea. I told my husband that when I retired we would take a cruise. He was not very enthusiastic. He feared that it would be too crowded and not much fun. Life is strange sometimes - I thought that I would have a career with the sea, and ironically I worked for 26 years for an aircraft manufacturing company. So indeed when I retired it was time to go on a sea voyage. This is getting long again, so I’ll finish in my next post.

Postcard of the Queen Mary, now birthed in Long Beach, California

The Sea Spirit

I smile o'er the wrinkled blue¬
Lo! the sea is fair,
Smooth as the flow of a maiden's hair;
And the welkin's light shines through
Into mid-sea caverns of beryl hue,
And the little waves laugh and the mermaids sing,
And the sea is a beautiful, sinuous thing!

- Lucy Maud Montgomery, Canadian, 1874-1942

Painting by Alfred Thompson Bricher, American, 1837-1908

Note: Top picture is also by Alfred Thompson Bricher entitled Low Tide


Diane said...

Amazing post and so interesting. Diane

marciamayo said...

Another beautiful post. I makes me want to visit Tybee, my hometown beach.

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful to have a life-time love affaire like that. You've had quite the varied relationship with the oceans and the seas.
Lovely post.

✿France✿ said...

DES bateaux
DE l'eau
tout pour être heureuse je pense. Elles sont tres belles ces phots. Je crause je veux retourner voir ma petite Bretagne.
MAIS pour le moment je suis chez toi donc je profite

Unknown said...

Dear Friend
I loved to know how you're attracted by the sea. I love the sea as well.
Have you ever came to Lisbon, Portugal?
I couldn't live in a town far from the sea. That's a part of my wellness in Oslo...

livininlb said...

You really should move out here with me. There is water all around! Whenever I'm not happy, a drive on PCH to see the waves always immediately lifts my spirits. Just walking a few blocks to the bay makes me smile. It must be hereditary!
I love that you have me in a bikini at age 5 (or 6?) Also, the trip you are talking about in Canada was with Jessica? I know I went to Canada with you and Father but I believe the only time I have been in Québec is for work (remember the whole livre de famille incident?)
Once again, a beautiful and informative post!

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a lovely post. You asked about the pom koec - no it is not but I do have the spice bread on my blog. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

Kay Dennison said...

Wow!!! I envy how well-travelled you are!!

My daughter served for 8 years in the U.S. Navy. She was an Aviation Tech and was one of only about a dozen women in her squadron and one of the few who didn't do secretarial work. Some of the tales she told were pretty funny. I was proud of her -- she handled herself well in some pretty difficult situations.

DJan said...

The sea is definitely in your blood, I see that. The Vagabonde is not only a wanderer, but also a seafaring vagabonde!

Vicki Lane said...

When I was young, I wanted badly to go on the schooner Yankee that sailed around the world and even applied to go as a cook. But I was too young and by the time I was old enough, the Yankee had changed hands and besides, I had a boyfriend.

We ended up getting married and had a sailboat and for a while thought of living on a boat -- but by that time, I had too many books and had become fond of gardening.

And now we're in the mountains. But I understand your fascination...

Anonymous said...

I have lived my life in the midwestern United States, far from any sea. We do have a great lake close by, which I love, but it is not an ocean. I love the ocean. We go to the ocean whenever we can figure out a way. My husband loves boats. But he is not interested in a cruise. How did you convince your husband to take the cruise?

Virginia said...

How wonderful that you still have all these wonderful photos to remind you of all the places you've been around the world. Your story is amazing. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

Olga said...

This post is amazing! You made me feel so good reading it because I share your passion for the sea. I hope your cruise will happen sometime.

Baino said...

Lovely as usual. I'm lucky I can't see the sea but it's only 40 minutes away if I need it. I don't think I could ever live way inland. And you make me yearn for France every time I come here

Dutchbaby said...

I share your love for the sea. All my life I have always lived near the ocean: first Java, then Amsterdam, and now San Francisco. I couldn't imagine being landlocked.

We came across the Atlantic on a cruise ship as well. It took nine days for the Princes Margriet of the Holland-America Line to go from Rotterdam to New York.

I love all your photos from around the globe and you have now inspired me to add the Cave of a Thousand Buddhas to my bucket list.

Another beautiful post!

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Merci à toi Vagabonde pour ton gentil message chez moi :o) !!!! Tu seras bien entourée avec ton mari, tes filles et les petits-enfants... j'imagine la joie que vous aurez au coeur d'être réunis !!!!! Et puis tu vas pouvoir parler à nouveau français ! :o) Ce jeune homme sera sans doute lui aussi content de parler avec toi... Toulouse, la ville rose, il en aura des choses à te raconter !! :o)
Je t'embrasse bien fort et je te dis à très bientôt certainement début janvier ! :o) Passe de BELLES FÊTES VAGABONDE !!!!!! GROS BISOUS !!!! :o) ***

Tammie Lee said...

yours is a story of waters... so many memories and experiences. I imagine it was wonderful to put this post together and remember so much at once. Wishing you wonderful times to come on and with water.

Ann said...

this post,like all your others,take me away to beautiful places! You have traveled so far and I can't thank you enough for sharing! I love to visit!!!

Angela said...

You have managed to save so many photos and postcards! You truly are a sea-lover, anyone can tell. Me, I crossed the Atlantic in 1964 from Bremerhaven to New York on the proud "BREMEN", and it was a wonderful ship, BUT I got so seasick! So no more cruises for me. Still, I love to be on the beach and just LOOK.
Love from Angela, on our island now

walk2write said...

What a treasure your blog is! I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit here this morning. There must have been some latent longing in me for the sea all these years. I always feel at home when I'm near it.

Friko said...

Everything about your life is movement, a true 'journey' through life. I think if there were a way to get to the stars you would book a seat right now.

Vagabonde said...

Kay Dennison – how exciting to have a daughter who served in the Navy. I am sure she has many tales to tell. I believe the French Navy has women serving there too, but they did not when I was a young woman. Thanks for the comment.

Lele Batita - Yes I have been to Lisbon and loved it. It is a charming town but the hills are steep! Thanks for the comment.

Vagabonde said...

Mary – Thanks for commenting – I’ll come and look at your pain d’épices recipe.

Walk2write – welcome to my blog and thank you for taking the time to write a note. I appreciate it very much. Please come back again.

Vagabonde said...

Frrance, Nancy – Merci de votre visite. Je sais que mes posts sont longs et en anglais, donc pas si facile. Vous êtes gentilles comme tout de venir me voir.

Vagabonde said...

Food, Fun and Life in the Charentes, Marciamayo, Dedene, DJan, Vicki Lane, alwaysinthebackrow, Virginia, Olga, Baino, Dutchbaby, Tammie Lee, Ann, Angela, Friko – Thank you dear friends to come and read my long posts. I am pleased that you enjoy them. With the holidays coming soon I have not had as much time to go and read all your blogs, but I try to read several each day. Thanks for the visit.

Ruth said...

Your Ode to the Sea is very touching. And in this one especially it is also an ode to boats, ships, ferries, and smooth boats. Anything that would take this sea lover along those beloved waters. I so admire your commitment to travel. We are the lucky recipients of your travelogues.

We joined my sister Susan on the Queen Mary for lunch when Lesley was a toddler and Peter a baby, out on the deck. It was delightful. We lived in Pasadena at the time (as did Ginnie and her family). When we toured the ship, Lesley who was 2 1/2, looked up at an EXIT sign and said, "exit." She had learned to read that word on Sesame Street. :)

Ginnie said...

As Ruth mentioned in her comment, it was a real delight to visit and tour the Queen Mary...but we never ate there. That would have been something, I'm sure. I can't tell you how many times we went back-n-forth to Catalina Island, however, because we had a camp just up the coast from Avalon that we attended as staff at least twice a year. Our kids have very special memories from there as well. It's such a small world, Vagabonde!

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