Great Barrier Reef

Feb. 14, Tuesdeye, 10:00am. Hello, Mate(pronounced mite). We have now travelled more than 8500 miles since departing Florida. Imagine that! We will be entering the area of the Great Barrier Reef shortly. It stretches about 1250 miles along this continent’s coastline and beyond. We will have a special reef pilot coming aboard to guide us through this area tomorrow. Very tricky maneuvering. We just got back from a lecture on everything to know about Cairns. Pickleball before that. Ukulele at 2:15. Reef lecture after that. We hardly have time to eat. Right!!
Australian fact: the Koala is a marsupial. Questions for you(no googling allowed until after you’ve guessed) What is Australia’s national –1. Animal?; 2. Bird?; 3.Flower?(don’t even try to guess this one); 4. Gemstone?; 5. Dish?(like Toutierre might be for Canada); 6. Instrument? 7. Song? 8. Colors(green and ?); 9. How many stars on their flag? 10. Toy? Answers in a later blog. How many can you get right? No cheating now! I’m watching you! Good luck!
9:15pm. Pilot is onboard. He will guide us through the reef to Cairns. His talk today was outstanding. The ship was very “valentiny” today. Valentine cakes and pastries; balloons; hearts; free champagne; a myriad of other decorations all over. Even a special valentine dinner menu. The maitre d’ dressed as a huge heart. Very cool, fun guy. Dozens and dozens of couples renewed their vows with the captain this afternoon. We would have done it but our marriage is so strong that we didn’t need to renew. Truth be known, Ellen refused to repeat the word “obey” so I said “no obey, no way!!” “My way or the highway”!! She said “have a nice day”!! What really happened was we forgot to go! See you tomorrow.
Feb. 15, 1:00pm. We have entered the beginning of the reef area. We are, and have been surrounded by islands all morning. Not just low coral islands but large volcanic, sometimes jagged islands. The ones we are in right now are called the “Whitsundays”. Dozens and dozens. Almost all uninhabited. We dock at Cairns at 7:00am tomorrow. El and I are splitting excursions again. She is going on a mountainous train ride. She will be crossing 40 bridges and going through 15 tunnels. Quite a scenic trip. I am going on a duck boat tour through the rainforest to see wombats, crocodiles(huge), feed kangaroos and koalas, and see demonstrations by Aborigines. Did you know of the 12 most poisonous snakes in the world, 10 of them live in Australia? I mention this to highlight my bravery. Since I picked up “dee burd” the other day, my bravado has been soaring. By the way, “pool boy”(the one who was afraid of “dee burd”) is no longer with us. We hear he was replaced, in Sydney, with someone who is not afraid of “burds”. I heard “pool boy” was made to “walk dee plank” which he was afraid to do! He was afraid of heights and water also. The World War 11 lecture this morning was about the aircraft carriers Lexington and Saratoga. They were both involved in the Battle of the Coral Sea which is just northeast of where we are right now. If you like info about this war(like I do) you would love these 45 minute presentations. Signing off for now, Admiral Nimitz