There is little I can say about Hubbard Glacier that will do
justice to its awe-inspiring immensity.
I will simply irritate you by saying pictures can't even begin to
capture the grandeur. As they say, you have to see it to believe it. It is too large for a picture.
So I will depart with one word. Wow!
(PS - Yes, in case you are suspicious, I included a couple pictures of
Glacier Bay as well. I didn't think you would mind. But I did
think you would be curious.)
The Basketball Story
Yes, that's me out there.
One reason I particularly looked forward to this trip was
the opportunity to play basketball. The brochure indicated
a basketball court was included onboard the Radiance.
My biggest problem with cruises is the incredible amount
of food they make available. Including the occasional
midnight buffets, you can eat four full-course meals a
day! If you don't step up
your exercise schedule, it is pretty easy to take home an
extra ten pounds.
My favorite form of exercise is basketball. I vowed this
would be the first cruise where I returned weighing the
same as when I left.
I am proud to say I succeeded thanks to a
steady regimen of basketball during our
days at sea.
Frequently I practiced alone. I would get there
early in the morning and just shoot some hoops all by
myself. Mind you we were passing the most
amazing scenery, but after a while even the incredible
forests and mountains lose some of their power. My
body needed exercise!
The Mystery of the Missing Shot
The great mystery was my total inability to make an outside
shot. Normally I am an accurate shooter. When left
unguarded, I hit about half
my 3-point shots and two out of three jump shots. But not on this trip. I would hit 1 in 10 long shots and 1 in 5
jump shots. I know these averages for a fact because during practice, I kept
Part of it had to do with the movement of the ship
which clearly affected my balance.
The ever-present ocean breeze didn't
help either. I would watch in disgust as my high-arching
shot would change directions in mid-air due to a gust of wind.
However I was at a loss to explain to my
own satisfaction the riddle of why I couldn't hit a shot. Even
when there was no wind my accuracy didn't improve much.
Complicating my confusion, there was one day I couldn't miss!
After we docked at Skagway, after the train ride there was
plenty of time to go shoot some hoops before dinner. I shot
very well. Afterwards I assumed I had finally gotten used to
playing at sea, but then the next day on the way to Ketchikan
I couldn't have hit the ocean much less the basket.
I lost complete confidence in a shot that had never failed me
I felt like I could not hit an
outside shot if my life depended on it. When I came back
to Houston, I told my friend Tom Tucker about my shooting woes. Tom is
former high school basketball coach who occasionally gives me
tips on how to improve my game.
I was actually just letting some frustration out by telling
him about how badly I shot the ball. I didn't expect him to
offer any advice. I had already chalked it up to the "motion
of the ocean" and left it at that. Let me add I was
to see my accuracy return once back on land.
Tom listened carefully. He furrowed his brow, thought about it
for a moment, then asked me a question. "Where was the
basket situated?" I explained how the basket was set up.
"Were you shooting 'with' the motion of the ship or 'across' the
I told him I was confused. Tom started over. "If the
ship was heading north, what direction were you shooting at
I said that I was shooting 'east' (which is 'starboard' for
people with nautical minds.)
He laughed. "Then you were shooting at a moving target!"
I stared at him blankly. I had never been much good at science.
I avoided physics like the plague back in high school. I had assumed that the
ball's flight would stay proportional to the movement of the
ship. It had never occurred to me the basket was moving!
It sure didn't look like it was moving.
Tom explained, "It takes 2 seconds on most outside shots for
the ball to hit the basket after it leaves your hands.
If you were shooting across the ship's motion, I bet that
basket moved at least an inch or two by the time the ball got there."
My mouth dropped open. Why didn't I think of that? That
explained why I was able to shoot in Skagway - the ship was
docked! The other times when the ship was moving I
guess I should aimed at the rim instead of the
I am such a moron sometimes.
The Old Guy on the Basketball Court
Chris Rock, one of the funniest guys on the
planet, tells a story about the "oldest guy in the bar."
In the opinion of Mr. Rock, hustling chicks in bars is a sport
for young men, not old geezers. He says he and his
buddies always look for the oldest guy in the bar and laugh
themselves silly at his pathetic attempts to act cool as he
tries to pick up babes half his age.
Rock then concludes by asking the audience to shoot him if
someday they see him in a bar and he is the oldest guy. He
says someone needs to put him out of his misery.
I was the oldest guy on the
basketball court. I was also pretty self-conscious about it.
My first day of basketball was pretty ho-hum. I played with a
half dozen kids who ranged in age from
eighth graders to high school freshman and sophomores.
I spent most of my time passing the ball and shooting the
occasional lay-up off a rebound. Plus
it was fun to stuff their shots now and then when they drove
the lane. I may have been old, but I was still taller
than they were. Take pleasure where you can find it.
The kids were friendly and I had fun.
The second day was a different story. This time two
college-age men showed up as well as three men in their late
20s/early 30s. Plus a talented group
of older high school kids joined. Clearly the competition was
ratcheted up several notches.
At 55, I was easily pegged as the
old guy on the court. I did receive one left-handed
compliment. One kid immediately tried to
drive around me only to see me sidestep quickly and cut him off.
The kid had to stop, pick up the ball and pass it. Then he
looked at me in surprise and said, "Gee, you move
faster than my Dad! I can get around
him and he isn't very old yet."
From time to time various members of the SSQQ group would
stroll by and tease me about my status as the Old Guy on the
court. They were amused by how out of
place I was too. They would aggravate me with lines like
"What's wrong with this picture?" However
none of them ever took me up on my invitation to join them.
I was on my own.
In pick-up basketball, you change teams frequently unless you
are on the winning team. Unfortunately I am sorry to say I was
not the "Alpha" player on the court. For
one thing, I was handicapped by my inability to shoot from the
I said earlier, I could not hit an outside shot to save
Now without my favorite
3-point shot beyond the arc or my medium range jumper, I only
had two other ways to score - drive to the basket or post up
close to the basket. Since
the other team had a 6' 4" jumping jack
named Josh guarding the basket,
my chances of scoring close to the basket on a post-up were
pretty limited because he could block my
shot with ease. That
meant the only way I could score was to drive the ball to the
hoop for a lay-up and hope the big guy
wouldn't get there in time.
I found myself matched up with a 17-year old named Greg. He
had been on my team earlier and I had been very impressed with
his ability. He was a gifted athlete who not only had the
quickness to drive to the hoop, but he could make an outside
shot even in the wind. How he did it I
didn't know, but I was definitely envious.
One of the other kids said
Greg was a starter on his high
school basketball team.
Now due to the rotation of teams, I
found myself guarding
him and he was guarding me. Greg was
5' 10", just 2 inches shorter than me, but I had a 50-pound
weight advantage. He was slender while
I was… well, let's just say I was bigger.
When you are bigger, basketball wisdom says
take the ball to the hole. That's exactly what I decided
to do. I got the ball and immediately drove to
the basket. My guess is that Greg did not realize I am
left-handed because somehow I
managed to blow right past him. I had a clear path to the goal.
Just as I was about to shoot an uncontested lay-up, Greg
pushed me in the back with both hands. I went flying!
I was scared because there were all kinds
of obstacles behind the net and I was up in the air completely
out of control. Sure enough I landed very
awkwardly and hit something. My heel caught the edge of a
wooden bench riveted behind
the net and I tripped. Now even more
out of control, I spun and fell
backwards into the netting that surrounds the court.
The net broke my momentum and held
without ripping. Still off balance, I slumped to ground.
Before I got up, I took another look.
Sure enough I confirmed the presence of several dangerous
obstacles directly behind the net.
There were two riveted
wooden benches, the metal
support holding the basket, and a water
fountain. I knew I could have
been hurt very
I was furious! This was a pick-up basketball game!
Nothing justified dirty
tactics like this. I lost my temper. I got right in Greg's
face and chewed him out. I told him if he pulled a stunt like
that again, I would take his head off. And I meant it.
Just then someone grabbed me from behind and spun me around.
It was Josh, the 6' 4" college freshman with the big
shoulders. He still had his hands on
me and got right in my face.
He looked me straight in the eye.
"Do NOT threaten him. Do you understand? You will not
threaten him or you will answer to me."
I saw no choice but to back down from Josh.
The young man was a giant. It
was certainly not worth the risk of getting hurt in a fight
with a powerful young man like Josh over a jerk like Greg.
Furthermore I now understood why Greg
was so brave - he had Josh watching his back.
That's when I realized Josh and Greg were
together. Later I discovered they were part of the
a group that included 6 of the players
out there -
three pairs of brothers from the same town
whose parents were taking the cruise together. No
wonder they were so tight. Outnumbered, I swallowed my
pride and decided to continue.
I picked up the ball and resumed play again. Two minutes later
I got past Greg again. This time he merely grabbed my shirt
from behind which caused me to miss my shot. Two minutes later
I put up a hook shot. Greg fouled me by
slapping me right across my face as
he tried to block my shot. It was
obvious that he did not want me to score and would do anything
to stop me - push, hold, shove, or slap. I was livid
at his tactics, but this time I thought better of threatening
Instead I told Greg right to his face that he was a dirty
player. He said nothing back. He nonchalantly kept playing.
He was definitely cold-blooded.
Apparently where Greg came from, these kinds of tactics were
accepted and commonplace. By now it was pretty obvious
that he was going to do whatever it took to stop me from
scoring. Due to the motion of the ship I
was having trouble shooting anyway so it seemed hopeless to
even try to score anymore. So I stopped shooting and
concentrated harder on playing
defense. I denied him the ball when I could
and got right in his face if he did get the ball. We
canceled each other out.
Neither of us scored the entire game.
Meanwhile there were a half-dozen high school kids who didn't
like seeing me chew Greg out. They began a constant razzing
from the sidelines. My new name was 'Rickman the Brickman' (a
brick is basketball slang for a shot
that doesn't even hit the basket). I
was now the guy wearing the black hat. Obviously
I had not won any popularity contests
with the teen scene. I seethed
underneath, but kept my cool.
My team lost the game handily. Afterwards I went up to Josh.
I could tell Josh was not a thug. I
apologized for losing my temper and yelling at
his friend Greg. Then I
added, "Josh, I have not been in a fight since Junior High
School. That is not my way. But you saw what Greg did. He
shoved me in the back, he grabbed my shirt, then he slapped me
across the face. What am I supposed to do to protect myself?"
He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't care what you do;
just don't hit him." Then he turned his back and walked
I played the rest of the day without any further fireworks.
The fun was definitely gone. I know
you wonder why I stayed. Maybe it would help if you knew they
were using my ball which I had brought along on the trip.
If I had left, no one would have been able to play.
Probably would have served them right, but I stayed.
I kept thinking over and
over how I could have handled the situation better, but I
never found the solution. If someone wanted to cheat and they
had the support of all the other players, then there wasn't a
thing I could do about it. I was helpless.
So much for the Old Guy on the Court. Who
ever said getting old was