I tried to post this on the boat and kept getting lost signal. Being a week gone this has only intensified. There is an ongoing question about the Steamboat experience. Is it the boat, is it the crew? I feel it is both.
I cannot really speak to the people and work of hotel-passenger service. I have never worked these areas. I have the utmost respect for those who do work these areas and do their utmost to make the passengers' trip all it should be. This is often done under less than ideal conditions, dealing with less than charming people.
What I will miss most is watching a pilot make a landing, under lousy conditions and make it look easy when it wasn't. I will miss seeing the deck hands try to make a quick tie-off in a driving rain and wind, slipping and sliding in the mud or loose rocks. Walking back down the stage, grouching at each other with a look of pride on their faces, swearing they will get off for good next rotation. They don't and won't. I'll miss watching the "Academy Kids" as their classroom training turns to river Learnin'.
I will miss watching a "green" hand begin to accept how things are done on the boat and begin to be accepted by his fellow crew members as a respected member of the team. I will miss the look on an oiler's face as they begin to really understand what the gauges mean and how it all fits together to make the paddlewheel turn. I'll miss the 100's of ways a Chief or other engineers work to explain it all to the same oiler. I will miss the Delta Queen's tolerance of the mistakes required of that learning, and her response when she has had enough.
All of this is part of the daily life on board and the GROWTH which each and every crew member goes through, regardless of "green" hand or 15 years aboard.
I will greatly miss the proud grand old lady who creates the stage that allowed this daily life to go on. I will miss meeting new friends and reconnecting with old, based on our relationship with the boat. Be this crew, passengers, Steamboats. board members, etc.
It is my hope that I will again have the chance to live this life. If not, at this moment I am many lifetimes richer than one who never got the chance for this experience.
May our paths cross again and thanks to every person I have met on the boat, regardless of amount of time spent together.