State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.


by Natalia

We are preparing for boarding M/V Spree to go to the Dry Tortugas Ecological Reserve. We did couple of multiday sailing trips before, but we haven’t done liveaboard yet and have only a faint idea what to expect. I hope that three days of Internet withdrawal will be the greatest challenge. But if you don’t hear from us by the end of the month, you can start mounting a rescue expedition.

The boat takes 22 passengers, sleeping quarters are arranged in bunks of 4 to a cabin. The crew promises to feed us constantly. Alas, gourmet food is not mentioned: this is definitely not a cruise ship. Not that I would know the specifics of one never setting the foot aboard. The idea of a giant floating hotel is so unappealing that even the allure of tropical destinations pales next to it. Being marooned on a ship with hundreds of other people strikes me as oppressing, not exhilarating. And with 68% Americans overweight and 34% obese ‘all you can eat’ is plain cruel. Not to mention all those touted attractions: rock climbing, ice skating, tennis, volleyball, etc - one can do all that at home at a fraction of a cost and less crowd to compete with. I am happy to accept that I don’t know what I am missing and have little desire to be proven wrong. I’d rather take a road trip and wander aimlessly hoping to experience something unexpected.

I’ve decided on the Spree Expedition as an alternative way of seeing Ft. Jefferson, a bizarre nineteenth century fortification on an island in the middle of nowhere. I absolutely have to see it. I find the absurdity of building a fort and hoping for the enemy to dutifully pass by it to be shot at utterly romantic and charmingly wasteful. Not that I try to belittle the hardship of people who build the fort or those who were held prisoners here.

Of course the big part of the trip is scuba diving: 5 times a day including a night dive. If that doesn’t make us tired of diving, nothing will. Hopefully oil from the spill won’t get there. At least not before we do.


We were poking fun at the pervasiveness of security measures in Key Largo and had received a karmic retribution: somebody had stolen an iPod from our truck. We must have forgotten to lock the car after lugging our diving gear inside. Unfortunately no-one is interested in cashmere sweaters here as our bags with winter clothes were left intact so not much chance of simplifying the packing. As you may recall we live in a gated community with a guard and security cameras. To me it demonstrates that petty larceny can’t be eliminated and most attempts to do so are a waste of money. Somehow I don’t believe the grand theft and violent crime would be rampant if guards were let go and cameras shut down.


The trip on M/V Spree starts with captain’s briefing with huge helpings of bodily functions humor. I can’t deny it is a serious concern with almost 30 people having to relive themselves, not always voluntarily, in cramped quarters. The proper technique of fluffing trash bags, the acceptable length of the toilet paper, the problem of toilet mice (don’t ask), the art of pumping and flushing are discussed at length.