Saturday, August 06, 2011

Fair winds and following seas

Quebec City, QC, July 2011

You never quite know what you're going to find when you take a walk in a strange city. Of course, that's the entire appeal. Every turn of a corner seems to offer up not just a new sight, but a new story as well, a tiny snippet of lives lived that you wouldn't have been able to witness had you stayed in your La-Z-Boy this morning.

So on this day when I took a quick zing through Quebec City, I wanted to drink it in as quickly as I could before I was scheduled to rejoin my family. I rather enjoy these shoot-on-the-run experiences, because you almost have to force yourself to hoover the moment with your eyes, ears and any other sense possible. You have precious little time to remember every last detail of this remarkable place, then figure out how to share it with everyone else when you get back.

I guess that makes me a Type A. So be it.

So when I got to the bluffs overlooking the waterfront, I couldn't help but wonder what was going on on that delightfully red ship far below. I watched sailors wander across the deck for a couple of minutes before I grabbed a couple of quick frames and moved on. Only when I got home did it occur to me to try to figure out what was going on in the little world I had voyeuristically observed from so far away. Here's the deal:

This is the CCGS Pierre Radisson, a Canadian Coast Guard ship. She's an icebreaker, and as luck would have it, she was docked in her Quebec City home port in advance of a trip north, part of her annual summertime patrols of Canada's Arctic waters. It's her first sailing since a major refit.

None of this is earth-shattering, of course. Ships set sail all the time. The world continues to move along its path whether or not we bother to take the time to observe the process. But on this brilliantly lit summer afternoon, I was lucky enough to have had the time to observe that process. And for a brief moment, I got to put myself, virtually, among explorers who would soon go places most of us have only dreamed of.

Some days, life is just this good.

Your turn: What are the two guys at the stern thinking?

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