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Port Notes: At Sea -- Bound for Trondheim

It was another glorious day at sea, sailing between Scotland and our first Norwegian destination of Trondheim. Garrison had warned us during one of the first showroom performances that if we thought the North Sea was bumpy, we just had to wait 'til the Norwegian Sea for things to really get exciting! Luckily it was pretty smooth sailing, especially when we kept ourselves distracted with riveting performances and the search for the perfect afternoon snack.

There was an utterly attentive crowd at Melissa's early morning Norwegian lesson titled "Snakker Du Norsk?" The answer for those folks is now "yesn-sort of!" Melissa's method was to get us speaking the language immediately, and we ended the lesson by spelling out words after being given the letters in Norwegian. In other lecture news, Natalie gave a fascinating history of whale hunting in Norway and other countries. Although we often think of overfishing as a phenomenon beginning in the 18th and 19th centuries, it's actually been a problem for at least five hundred years. Bjorn followed with the latest in his series on the geology of Norway. Today's topic: the "Norwegian Strandflat" and the formation of fjords.

Guests who enjoy singing but don't particularly enjoy waking up before 8:00 am were eager to crowd into the MIX Bar for Dan Chouinard's singalong at 10:00 am. Others were happy listening to the pros--Mike Compton & Joe Newberry showed off their beautiful harmonies over sad country songs at the Ocean Bar. Then, passengers gearing up to write their memoirs listened to a talk by Patricia Hampl, Brian Christensen, and Garrison Keillor. Some advice from Patricia to get you started: try writing a series of stories linked by place & time.

We filed into the Explorer's Lounge for the second installment of a new program called "The Genius Show," where Joe Newberry spoke candidly about his childhood, including a girlfriend who inspired him to pick up the guitar. At the end, everyone stayed seated to watch a friendly competition between our many onboard pianists. The rest of us checked out Fred's alternately heartbreaking and hilarious talk on how to "Find Your Weird." At one point, we were all poking our cheeks in an attempt to replicate the sound of water droplets, mostly unsuccessfully but with gusto.

Lecture Notes -- Bjørn Follestad

The Norwegian Strandflat

Approaching the coast of Norway, we will meet a landform in front of the coastal mountains of West Norway. These features were named "strandflat" by the first director of the Geological Survey of Norway in 1894. In the years to come many scientists have proposed different geneses and ages for this formation.

A precise definition of strandflat is difficult. It is the term for an uneven and partly submerged rock platform extending seawards from the coastal mountains. The strandflat consists of numerous low islands, skerries, and shallow sea areas.

In the mouth of the Trondheimsfjorden, and even better around Ålesund, this formation is well developed. Along the Norwegian coast, strandflats can be observed from Stavanger in the south to Magerøy (near Tromsø) in the north. In these areas, it varies from 50-60 km to a near total absence in the area of Stat (south of Ålesund).

Nansen, coming from the Artic, concluded strandflats are only found in former glaciated areas. More recently, scientists have included marine abrasion, weathering, and glacial erosion, or a combination of these, as the most important process for formation. It was even suggested that the strandflat was formed under a tropical climate as a plain with remnant mountains.

Later scientific works have demonstrated that the formation of strandflats is older than the last glaciation, it might even be older the than the ice age. During the following glaciated periods, strandflats were eroded and the present face was created. Even today, the "face" of the strandflat is changing.

The Genius Show

The Genius Show is an opportunity to get to know some of our performers a bit better, and to explore the nature of developing exceptional talents. On Tuesday night, GK interviewed Irish folk singer Karan Casey and memoirist Patricia Hampl in the Explorer's Lounge in front of a packed house.

We learned about Karan's role as a carrier of tradition, a guardian of treasures. "The real narrative of Ireland is written through song. Many stories, many perspectives. It's a night of love, a night of joy, an historical event, or singing out our woes. All the voices of Ireland can be heard in these songs."

She told us about jam sessions in Ireland, and the system of the 'noble call.' One person performs, and then they get to 'call' the next person. 'Order and hush' is called for, and great respect is given to each performer.

Karan was born in County Waterford in a family of singers. Her first memory of performing is standing on a table in the sitting room and singing for her two grannies, Josie and Mary. They were a very enthusiastic audience. "They were both fine exponents of song themselves. My mother sang to us all of the time even though she was a self-professed 'crow.' She just sang and laughed at herself. So I was held lovingly in the palms of three expert singers who didn't take themselves too seriously." Another early formative memory she shared is of her dad Karl singing. He held court at parties in their home, and conducted them all through the night. Karan did the same for us as we sang, "The Brown and the Yellow Ale."

Karan lives in Cork, Ireland with her husband and two daughters. She now teaches singing at her youngest daughter's school, which is one way she gives back to the tradition. She's working on a new album--a mixture of social justice songs and love songs, traditional songs and self-composed songs.

Patricia Hampl shared stories of growing up in Saint Paul, with surprisingly happy memories of a Catholic girlhood--and her mother's discomfort with one of her early poems.

She specializes in memoir, and discussed the first person narrative voice. She has written nine books, and her new memoir The Art of the Wasted Day will come out in April 2018. She has also written several opera libretti (why not?). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, New York Times, Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, and Granta. She is one of two Minnesotans on the usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. Can you guess who the other MN writer is?

Patricia's first job out of school was working at the Saint Paul Pioneer Press as a copy editor; her next move was to the Iowa Writer's Workshop for an MFA in poetry. She was the first editor of Minnesota Monthly. She quit that job to go to Prague in 1975 to write her first memoir, A Romantic Education.

Ms. Hampl returns every summer as a member of the permanent faculty to teach in the Prague Summer Writing Program.

"This is one of the things that writing books has brought me--extraordinary friendships with readers and writers."

Patricia is also a visiting faculty member at Kingston University London, and a trustee of the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. She is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts (in poetry and in prose), and the MacArthur Foundation.

Check your daily schedule for the next installment of the Genius Show!

Passenger Profile

When Neil Mason was young, his family emigrated to New York from England, by way of a cruise ship, the Queen Mary. Eventually, Neil chose to move to a warmer climate down in North Carolina. At the same time, Jennifer moved to NC from Brooklyn. There the two met at a wine tasting party in Charlotte. As Jennifer Terris tells it, "I'm sitting there trying to be serious and take notes, and here's this goofball behind the wine expert, making faces, and suggesting that he knew nothing about wine." Neil chimes in, "I found out very quickly that she's a gourmet cook, and since I'm not, how beautiful is this." These two have lots of fun tales to tell, and you can hear them all every day at Afternoon Tea.

Could you tell us the main reason you cruise with APHC? "Simple, the people we meet and the music we hear."

Any musical performer or group that really stands out for you and why? "It's sort of an unfair question because we love them all."

The biggest surprise on this or any other APHC cruise? Neil: "I passed out in Estonia, ended up in the ship's infirmary and who do I find there? Garrison, who gave me sound medical advice."

Can you share with us your favorite moment on the cruise? "When we both got to tell stories on stage with Garrison."

How many desserts do you enjoy on one day on the ship? "Here's what we do. We lose 5 lbs. before we go on a cruise."

Unique only on an APHC Cruise? "All the music and entertainment."

Perfect place on the ship to either start your day or end it?
Both in unison: "In bed."

View from the Bow -- Natalie Springuel

Minke whales

Minke whales are common in the waters around Scotland and Norway. Like their larger cousins the finback and blue whales, minke are equipped with baleen instead of teeth. Baleen is made up of a series of keratinous plates lined up like a comb that hangs from the upper jaws, with fibrous fringes on the inside edge. To feed on a school of small fish or zooplankton, the minke lunges, mouth agape and throat grooves wide open. As it closes its mouth around its prey, the water comes rushing out through the baleen, with the prey left trapped inside.

The minke is the smallest of the baleen whales. It got its name from a Norwegian whaler named Meincke who, depending on which story you read, was a novice at the trade and called out a whale that was too small to target. Alternatively, he was a seasoned whaler that specifically targeted the smaller species because the larger ones were running scarce.

Look for minke whales wherever you see an aggregation of seabirds. Both share the same prey and the minke are sometimes alerted to good feeding grounds, such as large schools of herring or capelin, by the birds themselves.

Literary Limericks

Excerpted from Garrison's forthcoming book of limericks to be published by Grove/Atlantic

Edgar (Weird Ed) Allan Poe
Lost his Lenore long ago
And Annabel Lee
So no wonder he
Heard a raven -- or was it Old Crow?

That farmer girl Miss Maxine Kumin
Was utterly faithfully human
And she ruminated
On all God created
And her poems had plenty of room in.

Travel Tips

Boarding time today will be on the early side at 3:30pm for a good reason: we will be spending the late afternoon cruising the scenic fjord surrounding Trondheim.

Did you know that Trondheimsfjorden is Norway's third-largest fjord at 81 miles long? Or that it has rich marine life, with at least 90 different species of fish living in its waters? Deep water corals have been discovered not too far from the city of Trondheim, and a total of four giant squid have been found in the fjord!

Journal entries:
Rotterdam | North Sea | Edinburgh | Inverness | North Sea | Trondheim | Ålesund | Flåm
Bergen | North Sea | Oslo | North Sea | Rotterdam | Talent Show