Despite all these activities to choose from, I'd like to highlight two for you. Earlier in the cruise, as Karen and I began to hear about people's special talents and passions, we started to schedule activities that would be fun and (you guessed it) "educational."
Our first activity was boxing with Ordinary Seaman Kevin Threadgold. Kevin has both a quick 'jab' and a quick mind. He's always cracking jokes. "Some of the finest athletes on the face of the planet are boxers," he began. "Tonight I'm going to teach you the basics."
Kevin's been involved in boxing for more than 30 years. He starts our tutorial with a run-down of the ship's boxing facility. "We have a heavy bag, a speed bag, and a double-end bag."
He showed us his usual workout routine, highlighting two punches: the "jab" and the "right" (or in Dr. Barbara Campbell's case the "left"). After Kevin demonstrated how to use each piece of equipment, he then gave all of the scientists and crew a chance to practice.
First up was Dr. Alison Murray, and let's just say that after her performance with the boxing gloves, her lab mates will think twice before upsetting her. Others who showed a lot of promise were Craig Cary, Barb Campbell, Kevin Portune, Shannon Williamson, Ky Hacker, Charles Lee, Mihailo Kaplarevic, Joe Grzymski, Frank Stewart, Ian McDonald, Kazumi Baba, and Jennifer Hickey.
Kevin was a great teacher, providing good explanations and showing a lot of patience. After we had all had a turn trying out the combinations and ducking Kevin's mock swings, we all decided that it was a lot tougher than Kevin made it look!
After we worked up a sweat from boxing, it was off to the fantail, where Dr. Craig Cary was teaching everyone to swing dance. Craig and Ky Hacker are pros when it comes to swing dancing and they showed the rest of the gang some really impressive moves.
"The fantail is certainly not an ideal dance floor, but it'll do in a pinch," said Craig. First, Craig showed everyone the basics of "West Coast Swing." Once everyone had that, it was time to incorporate the more difficult steps called "the turns." The turns are what make swing dancing interesting and fun.
"The first turn I'm going to teach you is the underarm turn," began Craig. After that it was on to the cross-chest turn and finally onto the "The Pretzel." Since it looked like everyone was having a good time swinging to "The Stray Cats" on the CD player, Craig took the opportunity to teach everyone a move he invented. Man, it was too cool for words. To catch a glimpse of Craig swinging with Dr. Alison Murray, check out today's video clip on the Neat Stuff page.
As we danced the night away, I couldn't help but begin to think how different everything will feel when we get back to shore. I don't think this experience will ever fade from my memory, but I think I'm going to miss the little things: the people, the motion of the boat, the sound of the water hitting the hull at night, the smell of salt in the air, the regular meal times, the friendly "hellos" in the passageway.
I can certainly see how one can leave a life behind on the shore, for a life on the sea but ask any mariner, and they'll tell you that it is a life of sacrifice. As for all of us aboard Atlantis, we're happy to be heading back to shore right now.