Woke up in the morning before 5 am and felt pretty much refreshed. Since it’s a bright morning out there, the sun has already been up for a while, so I got up, washed up, and took an early morning walk around the deck. It’s so tranquil and peaceful, the boat, the river, along with a few early morning fishing boats near the river banks here and there, and all are so peaceful and quiet. One can unmistakably feel these are all God’s creation, what a wonderful handiwork He made, and He is out there looking over us.
I chatted with Efim Pelinovsky briefly last night at the party. I thanked him for inviting me to this symposium and I can hardly believe that I am really cruising in the Volga River right now, which holds so much of my fascination since childhood. As I suspected, he was interested in seeing me bring some message of real life freaque waves to the theoreticians. I am not certain that I could, because I did talked to a theoretical physicist who talked about theoretical modeling as I indicated to him we need real measurement to find out what is needed to modeling. Somehow there was no meeting of mind as he politely thanked me for the discussion and left. That’s probably the kind of realms I have expected from this conference, no surprise here!
Well, today is just the start!
Yesterday I tried to be restful except went onshore briefly to find a bank and changed for some local money, bought some postcards and a travel book in English about this area we are passing through. I enjoyed the early morning walk around the deck very much, so I’ll try to make it a daily exercise. Somehow when I come into the internet connection room early morning, I can’t get connected. O well, I’ll come back later. It seems that no one can fix the not operating internet connection this morning. That’s what’s happening!
There will be an excursion this morning I think I’ll be joining them to do the touristy thing. The boat has already arrived in Yaroslavl. So stay toned!
Well, I took the excursion to Yaroslavl, an old town that is preparing to celebrate millennium later this year. We visited a couple of monasteries. I can see plenty of catholic connections there. Somehow I did not derive too much spiritual feelings. I guess I am more of a tourist than a pilgrim. Besides, it’s a typical hot summer day and my walking was still far from healthy as expected. Nevertheless I generally enjoyed the excursion. Love to take pictures. Tomorrow there will be another one.
Now that we are drawing closer toward St. Petersburg, this morning we’ll be arriving at the town called Goritsy, we are no longer in Volga River anymore. We are now in a large lake called Rybinsk Sea after gone through a major lock this morning. Actually yesterday we also went through a similar set-up called Gorkiy Sea. If not noticing the widening of the viewing field, one can hardly notice the difference. All are nicely smooth and quiet – no waves except those generated by the ship’s track!
Today’s excursion is a visit before lunch to the town of Kirillov on Lake Silverskoye, only a short bus ride away. We are allowed to take pictures of outside but not inside where they have collections of historical stuffs. The monastery was known to have assembled a number of cathedral and churches. I did not really see any actual churches around somehow. As all the things are basically in the renovation mode, we are just witnessing tourist attraction in preparation. I guess the monastery properties were nationalized during the “Soviet” times, only now they are returned to the church people and they are rushed to make them available for tourist business. So far all of our excursions have been monastery visits. Another day, another monastery visit! My main complain would be that amidst the tourist attractions, spiritual aspect of the visits that could be a nice by-product of a visit but it has been completely missing. Oh well!
I first got up at 2 am local time to try to make use of the internet. I was able to read Tina’s message and her travelogue. I composed a reply but the internet was out again. I then slept for a couple more hours when the internet is nicely working again to finally send the message out to Tina. They are just about at the finishing days of their cruise while we have still about 3 days to go yet.
This morning our boat is going down stairs toward lower levels. It has already gone through a few locks. It is going down on another one as I am typing right now. There is nothing special, just new experience for me.
Being alone, even though everything is reasonably comfortable, I am getting a little bit impatience. Tomorrow afternoon can’t come soon enough for me to present my paper. At least today should be leisurely since there is no excursion today. My hip recovery is still ongoing. Yesterday I went on to the excursion without carrying my cane. Somehow I don’t feel that sufficient progress has been made yet. A couple of people have been jogging around the deck this morning. I wish I could do that again someday.
Today is my regular calendar birthday that I never celebrate. A date only my mother had noticed and told me. It should be my birthday. But since my parents always celebrated my birthday on the 18th day of the lunar sixth month, this has become only the birthday I now notice to myself in passing.
This afternoon in the session of “mini-symposium on rogue waves in nature” after the afternoon coffee break, I presented my paper following the opening talk of Efim Pelinovsky. It was held in the top deck bar room, a very comfortable room. The room was quite full when I was making my presentation. I think I did reasonably well. Later in the dinner party, Efim personably thanked me for the presentation. He is a busy guy who organized the session, presented two papers in the session, and tomorrow will be also give a plenary lecture. Anyway, I was happy that it was over and done with. I messaged to Tina that “My mission is accomplished!”
The dinner party later in the early evening was not much fun, too crowded with boat full of people in a rather smaller room. Not enough vegetables or fruits to choose from. I just managed to eat whatever I can grab through the crowds.
Well, one more day!
We arrived at Valaam this morning, the last stop before St. Petersburg tomorrow. We took a long excursion to the monastery 6km away on a different part of the island from where we port. We actually took a boat ride to get there. With my walking difficulty, I managed to make the excursion. At one time there was a lot of stairs to climb up. I almost decided not to do it. But I did, otherwise there will be no excursion for me. So the story is that I did not let my slow recovery get me down. Every hurdle I get over, I told myself so far so good! That’s the characteristics of this trip: every so far so good one at a time!
The conference is over. We arrived at St. Petersburg early morning. After breakfast, a bus took us to the airport. On the bus ride we went through part of the city so we did have seen some sights of the city. That’s good enough for me. I am ready to go home! Spend some time waited for the flight at St. Petersburg Airport and a 3 and ½ hour SAS flight took me to Zurich and had a comfortable night at the airport hotel, Radisson Blu. Now I am back at the airport lounge waiting for the flight for Chicago. (On hindsight, maybe I should choose to go through Frankfurt again that way will get me home sooner. There’s a Chinese saying roughly translated as “A home-bound heart is like an arrow!” That pretty much sums up my current feeling right now!
Eight hours and 44 minutes flight took me from Zurich to Chicago. Things have been relatively fine as good as one can be expected under the circumstances. My initial reaction to ORD was that’s a mad house with crowded people everywhere, at the immigration control and security entrance, thousands of people waited to rush through. But somehow just following the movement it all get through in due time. Now I am waiting for the flight to Detroit. The last part of the long trip is no short cut. I just called and talked to Teresa, a few hours yet to go through and I’ll be finally home sweet home! Deo gratias!