Junior Mining Companies Are a Faster Way to Gold Profits

Even if the volatility of the markets have made you bury your head in the sand, you’d at least be somewhat aware that precious metals, such as gold, silver, platinum and others, have soared in price over the past decade. Aside from investors turning to these commodities as recessionary or safeguard investments, the prices of these precious metals are on the rise, due to an increasingly high demand and limited supply. While many investors with deeper pockets turn to gold ETFs and mutual funds in an attempt to diversify their portfolios, other investors and traders turn to junior exploration and mining companies plentiful in the small cap markets.

Most people look to invest in junior exploration companies because they see the company’s potential in becoming a major source of mine supply in the future, especially because most exploration companies are in search of various precious metals, instead of focusing their efforts on one commodity. This, of course, varies with the scope, location, business plan and staff associated with the particular junior mining company. Nevertheless, there’s a certain level of excitement, and risk, that comes along with investing in a smaller company with significantly more upside potential.

Here are five popular small cap exploration companies:

Strategic Mining Corporation (PINK: SMNG) is engaged in the exploration and development of gold properties in Vietnam, the United States and on the African continent. Most recently, Strategic Mining announced the completion of a geological report on its East Canyon gold property located in Nevada and Utah.

Vista Gold Corp. (AMEX: VGZ) is involved in the evaluation, acquisition, exploration, and advancement of gold exploration and potential development projects. The Company has a number of properties, including the Paredones Amarillos and Guadalupe de los Reyes gold projects in Mexico, the Mt. Todd gold project in Australia, the Yellow Pine gold project in Idaho, the Long Valley gold project in California, the Awak Mas gold project in Indonesia; and claims in Utah. Vista Gold has recently gained some attention, after announcing an estimated two million ounces for the Batman deposit at the Company’s Mt. Todd project.

Midway Gold Corporation (AMEX: MDW) engages in the acquisition, exploration and development of gold and silver mineral properties located in North America. The Company’s current exploration projects include the Midway, Spring Valley, and Pan gold and silver mineral properties located in Nevada, and the Golden Eagle gold mineral property located in Washington.

Solitario Exploration & Royalty Corp. (AMEX: XPL) focuses on the exploration of precious metals and base metals in Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia. With interests in 15 properties, and 2 royalty properties, the Company explores for gold, silver, platinum, palladium, copper, lead, and zinc metals.

Gold American Mining Corp. (OTC: SILA) explores for gold and silver deposits in its Keeno Strike project in Nevada, and its Guadalupe project located in Zacatecas, Mexico. The Company recently signed an option agreement to acquire a 100% interest in the high-grade silver-gold La Escondida Project located in Sonora State, Mexico.

Gryphon Gold Corporation (OTC: GYPH) is a development stage exploration company whose principal asset is the 27.5 square mile Borealis property located in the Walker Lane gold belt of Western Nevada. According to the Company’s website, the one-square mile Central Borealis zone has been accredited with 1.4 million ounces of measured and indicated gold resources and 1.1 million ounces of inferred gold resources.

While plenty of analysts remain bullish on gold, many investors and traders will continue to turn to junior mining companies for their chance to cash in on the latest gold rush stock.

Happy Trading!

When the Magic Carpet Crashes – Tales For a New Retirement

I’ve written recently about the myth of retirement. Certainly, as baby boomers lose jobs at the end of their careers and watch their savings drop, retirement as a myth has become a reality for many.

We were actually sold a bill of goods. Or we chose to buy into a fantasy that wasn’t ever going to work.

What is the myth of retirement? The myth is you will reach an age, usually between 62 and 65, in which you will receive a gold watch from your long-term employer. From that point, you will have enough money to live the rest of your life, maybe another twenty or thirty years, without a care in the world.

From the very beginning, baby boomers were set up to fail at the retirement game. Our shear numbers made it difficult for institutions, social security and employers to put enough away for us to retire.

In addition, the lifespan of the average American has increased substantially in the last century. When Social Security was enacted in 1933, the lifespan of a white male was 65. The thinking was if you actually survived to that age, the government would give you enough money so you didn’t starve. Social Security was never designed for people to maintain a middle class lifestyle.

Personal retirement savings, in the form of 401K was initiated in 1979 to supplement social security and pensions. As workers in the corporate would have discovered, most companies have replaced a pension/401K combination to a 401K only retirement plan.

At one point, there was a shared responsibility in providing for retirement by the government, employer and individual. Over the last quarter century, we’ve seen a shift occur so the burden of responsibility is on the shoulders of the individual. That may be as it should, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow. That’s especially true for people who saved on their own, have watched that nest egg crack, and crumble under the current economic strain.

As boomers continue to move through the python, they will find they need to continue to accept more of the responsibility for their retirement. For many, if not most, the fantasy retirement will not exist.

Enter the accordion retirement. Imagine the accordion file or musical instrument that has the ability to expand or contract as needed. The accordion file has different compartments. As adults age, they will need to respond according to what it going on in the world, but also inside themselves.

There will be a few lucky souls who will get to retire to luxurious lifestyle and never have another financial care in the world. (Of course, they will still have to deal with all the other aspects of growing old.) There will be those who will have to work until they can’t any longer.

Most of us will fall somewhere in the middle. Seventy-five percent of baby-boomers report they will continue to work past traditional retirement. For many, it will be because they have to, for others because they want to stay engaged and connected.

Hopefully, you will have the opportunity to explore numerous options. While working full-time is one option, so is part-time, consulting and starting your own business. It doesn’t have to be drudgery.

I met a delightful woman at the Grand Canyon recently. Karen and her husband live in their RV and travel to national parks where they work in the shops. The day we talked she was ending her time at the Grand Canyon and moving to Yellowstone.

Creating a successful accordion life is not going to be easy. Has anything in your life been easy up until now? Just because life hasn’t worked out exactly as we planned doesn’t mean we can’t find meaning and create a good life in retirement.

Mother of Pearl Silver Jewelry History


Reflecting the rainbows of the ocean beds, iridescent Mother of Pearl is the Opal of the sea. Like Amber, Mother of Pearl is organic, but unlike any other gemstone it forms locked away within its creator: the mollusk.

15th Century Europeans, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, gave Mother of Pearl its name. However the beauty of Mother of Pearl, birthstone of June, has been used in the decoration of precious jewels and ornaments as far back as 3000 years before the birth of Christ.


Mother of Pearl: Crystals of calcium carbonate and conchiolin, secreted by the living organism within a mollusk, which build up and solidify coating the inner surface of the shell. Also known as Nacre (na.ker): from the Arabic word ‘Naqqarah’ meaning shell.

Mother Of Pearl In Mesopotamia

In the 1920s, a series of tombs were excavated to the east of the site of Babylon in the Middle East.

The tombs were of Sumerian royalty from ancient Mesopotamia and yielded a treasure trove of amulets, rings and necklaces made of gold, silver, ivory, amethyst, carnelian, lapis and other semi-precious gemstones. However, it was the unearthing of several beautiful wooden ornaments and musical instruments inlaid with Mother of Pearl, that illustrated just how sophisticated this ancient culture actually was.

The Silver lyre of Ur, found in one of the graves in the Royal Cemetery, dates back to between 2600 and 2400 B.C. The Silver lyre, ancestor to the modern harp, was found in the Great Death Pit accompanied by 70 men and women who had been buried with their Queen. Miraculously well persevered, the lyre was entirely covered in sheet silver and inlaid with Mother of Pearl. The silver cow’s head decorating the front has inlaid eyes of shell and lapis lazuli, and the edges, borders and plaques of the sound box are inlaid with Mother of Pearl. Such instruments were important parts of rituals in the royal courts and temples. There are more representations of lyre players inlaid in Mother of Pearl on the infamous Standard of Ur, a wooden box believed to recount the story of Ur.

The method the Sumerian artisans used to decorate wooden objects was to cut a design from the shell, cut the same form out of the wooden setting, and to fill the spaces and setting of the engraving with bitumen, which after acting as glue hardened forming the background. Animal scenes, inlayed with Mother of Pearl shell and colored gemstones such as lapis or carnelian, were particularly popular motifs used in such decoration. This method of inlay was popular throughout Asia and Asia-Minor up to the time of the Ottoman Empire, and although refined the same method is still practiced by the artisans of Turkey and Egypt today.

Mother Of Pearl In Asia

In Asia, centuries before the birth of Christ, the Chinese learned that beads or tiny figures of deities slipped between the soft mantle and the shell of a living mollusk soon became coated with Mother of Pearl. These beads and carvings were then taken to the temples and offered to the gods in the hope that they would bestow good luck upon the donor. Mother of Pearl, like jade, soon held a position of high status in Chinese society and became interlinked with stories of gods and mythical creatures.

One such story is the tale told in the Tao classic The History of The Great Light, written by Huai-Nan-Tzu during the Han dynasty at the beginning of the first millennia A.D. In the book there are eight stories of eight mortals who, through their good deeds, were rewarded with everlasting life. The eighth of these stories tells the tale of Ho-Hsien-Ku, who was instructed in a vision that if she ate Mother of Pearl she would gradually become immortal. She did as the vision instructed, living in the mountains and eventually dispensing with mortal food. Ho-Hsien-Ku started to float from peak to peak becoming more and more ethereal, finally attaining her quest she was renamed The Immortal Maiden symbolized in the Tao philosophy by the lotus flower.

During the Confuciusan Tang dynasty, as Buddhism spread to Korea and Japan, China absorbed and unified a vast territory that had formerly been divided into North and South China. The Tang dynasty, lasting from 600 A.D. to 900 A.D., was a period of widespread prosperity and trade that stretched from inner Asia to the archipelagos of South East Asia. With the promise of great wealth, many mariners and merchants from all over the Pacific were attracted to China, bringing with them precious cargos of Pearls, Mother of Pearl and many other precious and semi-precious gemstones.

In ancient China Mother of Pearl, apart from finding its way into rings and necklaces, was used in profusion as a decorative inlay in ornaments such as vanity mirrors and brushes, and in later centuries would feature heavily as an inlay in Chinese and Korean furniture. Interestingly, the Chinese also used Mother of Pearl in medicine, prescribing it for over a thousand years as an aid to reduce heart palpitations, dizziness, and high blood pressure.

Mother Of Pearl In Mesoamerica

In 8th Century Mesoamerica there existed an ancient civilization called the Toltecs. Ancestors to the Aztecs, they were feared and revered respectively for their military prowess and artistic culture. The Toltec had widespread influences from the Mayan populations in Guatemala to the Anasazi Indians in Arizona. Archeological excavations as far inland as Chaco Canyon, land marked by the towering Fajada Butte and its mysterious Sun Dagger rock carvings, have revealed Toltec treasures of ornamental jewelry and sculptures inlaid with Mother of Pearl from as far away as the Pacific Rim.

Still to this day the descendants of the Toltecs, the Yaqui Indians of Mexico immortalized in the shamanic tales of Carlos Castaneda, wear a necklace called the Hoporosim. The necklace is made of Mother of Pearl and is believed to provide the wearer with protection from evil.

In America’s Southwest of today, Navajo, Pueblo, and Hopi native American silversmiths, trained in age-old lapidary techniques fuse the ancient into contemporary designs using sterling silver, gold, lapis lazuli, pearl, fire opal, coral and of course Mother of Pearl.

Mother Of Pearl In The Pacific

By the 1500s Europe’s growing demand for Mother of Pearl used in gold and silver rings, necklaces, brooches and buttons had all but depleted the supplies of Mother of Pearl in the Persian Gulf. However the nobility of Europe were already taken with a new species of pearl producing oyster heralding from the Pacific: Pinctada Margaritifera, renowned for its spectacular gray to black color and large size it surpassed the beauty of any of its counterparts found in the Persian Gulf. And with the opening of new trade routes throughout the world, particularly to Asia, the Pacific witnessed a rush of European traders and explorers eager to profit from its wealth of Mother of Pearl.

In 1568 the Solomon Islands, known as The Pearl of the Pacific, were discovered by the Spanish explorer, Alvaro de Mendana. On discovering the Islands rich bounty of gold and Mother of Pearl he gave the archipelago its current name, believing that he had found the mythical source of King Solomon’s mines. However, it was in fact the Austronesians, a Neolithic people from South-East Asia, who had first settled the Solomon Islands more than 4000 years prior to Mendana’s arrival. Evidence of their great wealth of Mother of Pearl can be seen in the inlay appearing in many of their tribal shields and statues of gods and spirits.

From Tahiti to Bora Bora the Polynesian archipelago stretches out to the size of Western Europe. The Islands were first discovered by the European Magellan, and again in 1595 by Mendana. But long before their arrival Mother of Pearl and Pearl had already attained a god-like status.

In Polynesian lore, the iridescence of Mother of Pearl is attributed to the spirits of coral and sand, Okana and Uaro, who as legend has it adorned the Tahitian oysters in glistening cloaks covered in all the colors of the fish of the ocean. It is also said that Oro, the Polynesian god of peace and fertility, came down to earth and offered a special pearl called Te Ufi, the black pearl, to the beautiful princess of Bora Bora as a sign of his love. But by the middle of the 18th Century with Europe’s lust for Mother of Pearl the Pacific Islands had been practically stripped bear of its oysters, and with its disappearance the stories passed into legend.

However, in 1880 France gained control of Tahiti, what is now called French Polynesia, and actions were taken to restrict the plundering of the seabed. Other countries followed suite and by the 1900s, with the spread of western civilization, restrictions were imposed on the fishing industry throughout the Pacific, and the world had to look elsewhere in their search for Mother of Pearl.

European exploration of the Pacific Islands in search of Mother of Pearl continued, and in the 1920s it was discovered for the last time on a remote Island of the New Hebrides. But when explorers Sperry and Evans stumbled upon the use of Mother of Pearl, it was far from what they expected. They wrote, In the opposite corner of the central hut a line of mummies were placed like a barricade…Bushy mops of hair still clung to the heads, and their faces wore masks of clay, with huge eyes of Mother of Pearl that shone through the gloom staring at us with an uncanny effect. In fact the mummies weren’t ancestral members of the tribe, but were the bodies of a rival tribe…of cannibals!

In 19th Century America, where Mother of Pearl had been previously used as an inlay in furniture it found a new use in fashion, as buttons. Iowa became the center of the trade, shipping billions of iridescent fasteners until World War II, when newly invented plastics undercut the prices of Mother of Pearl buttons, all but driving them out of the market. The majority of Americas Mother of Pearl was sourced from the Gulf of California’s Abalone oysters. But these sources, like others throughout the world, were almost depleted and it wasn’t until the discovery of new-cultured farming techniques in Japan that the world’s Mother of Pearl producing oysters saw a return in numbers.

Copyright © SilverShake Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

11 Things To Try Before You Die

Remember the time when you floored the pedal without warning while driving on the highway to feel that sudden surge of rush in your chest? Yea, those are the moments that make us feel truly alive. There are some activities undertaken around the world whose purpose may or may not be to get the adrenaline juices flowing, but they certainly send us over the moon with a rush experienced never before.

11: Pathway to Heaven? – Motorbike on the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia

The North Yungas road (also known as Death Road), is a 69km long road connecting the Bolivian towns of La Paz and Coroico. At a staggering lung sapping height of 5km above sea level, this single lane road, the width of which is as little as 3 metres at some of the hairpin curves, needs the drivers to have the guile of a surgeon to negotiate its rail-less length. Add to that the fog and landslides, and what you have is the most dangerous road on earth. Now a much safer bypass has been built for the vehicles to go to Coroico, but Yungas road is still being used by bikers who seek a thrill that the ordinary urban roads refuse to give them. Hurling down the Death Road at breakneck speed, passing the crosses which mark the spots where other vehicles have fallen, needs an immense amount of courage bordering on sheer insanity. But the adrenaline rush it provides has no comparison. But why is it ranked eleven? Well, putting your life on the line for a thrill – not quite the smartest thing to do.

10: Glide over Waters – Waterskiing in Costa Rica

Let go of the restrictions of land and feel the freedom that water provides at Costa Rica, one of the best destinations to go waterskiing. Just think about it. A 40 horsepower motor boat roaring in front of you, moving at a scintillating speed and all you have between you and the 40 horses is a rope to hold on to. Yes, there is one more thing Costa Rica is famous for apart from the gorgeous belles that rule the Miss Universe Pageants. It’s the thrilling waterskiing experience that it provides. So, hold on to your ropes as you skim over the water’s surface and feel a rush you have never felt before.

9: Ride the Wave – Surf at Cortes Bank, USA

If you think that you’ve experienced it all while surfing the shores of Hawaii and Australia, wait till you get to Cortes Bank, USA. Around 105 miles off Californian coast, at Cortes Bank you will find the experienced surfers searching for the biggest waves around. This is not for the faint hearted as some of the waves go as high as 60 feet. Under these ten storied angry walls of water, set one foot wrong and the waves will come crashing down on you like a thousand sledgehammers.

8: The Ultimate Pilgrimage – White Water Rafting at Rishikesh, India

Some go to Rishikesh, a place of pilgrimage, to seek the Almighty’s blessings, while others seek something different altogether. The mighty Ganges at Rishikesh passes through thick forests, canyons, terraced hillsides and treacherous rocks, providing a perfect backdrop for a sport that thrives in the pulsating rush that it offers – white water rafting. Now, a popular adventure sport among the westerners and the corporate looking for an off-beat recreational activity, white water rafting is generally undertaken in the upper reaches of the river where the water is at its turbulent best, sending the rafts pounding against the rocks and falling from sharp gradients. So, if you’re in Rishikesh, get hold of that helmet, get onto the raft and lose yourself to the forces of nature.

7: The King and I – Walk Among the Lions at MatusadonaNational Park

The next time you go on an African safari, head towards MatusadonaNational Park in northern Zimbabwe. Experience one of those usual tiring daylong safaris and as the dusk sets in, relax by taking a leisurely walk… with the lions. By now you probably know that this is not your usual safari. Get a feel of what it’s like to be a part of a pride as you ‘mingle’ with the lions and even camp with them. This is one experience where you will not have to make an effort to get that thrill. Or is it more like the chill? A friendly suggestion – just make doubly sure that the lions aren’t hungry.

6: Vertigo with a View – BASE Jump at Voss, Norway

Every year at Voss, during the Extreme Sports Week, the high risk sports enthusiast converge to get their share of the action. So, after the initial sombre rounds of white water rafting, mountain biking and kayaking, they decide to get their juices flowing by hurling themselves off the 3,825 feet high GrosedaMountain down to the shores of LakeVangsvatnet. If you are itching to try your hand at this berserk activity, I guess you should know that BASE jumping is so dangerous that some countries have banned it. If you want to try it anyway, well, just don’t forget the parachute.

5: For the Twisted – Chase Storms in Tornado Alley, USA

When we spot an approaching tornado, common logic demands that we run and get the hell out of the place. But there are some who follow a different school of thought. Run, they do. But in a direction opposite to that which a sane man would take – towards the rampaging tornado. In the stretch between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains, is a region called the Tornado Alley which receives around 1000 tornado strikes a year (little wonder how it got its name). Now, these people, equipped with the most cutting edge tornado detection systems, go around chasing these tornados to witness their ‘majestic beauty’. If chasing tornadoes is your kind of a weekend activity, contact one of the tour companies offering what is called tornado chasing holidays.

4: Truly Incredible – Fly a MiG

Bored of the airplane simulation games you play at home? Now get a feel of flying one of these fighters with the G force, brain jam et all. We are not talking about a new cutting age simulation machine here, but the real thing. Head to Russia and fly one of their MiG fighters over the city of Moscow. If this doesn’t get your pulse racing, just check again if your heart’s actually pumping. Many more countries like Australia, South Africa and the US offer similar flying experiences, but nothing beats the experience of flying the legendary MiG.

3: For that Grown Up Kid : Kingda Ka Roller Coaster, Six Flags, USA

If you thought roller coasters were for kids, think again. Kingda Ka roller coaster was built in the year 2005 to give the 12-acre Golden Kingdom Six Flags theme park the bragging rights for having the tallest as well as the fastest roller coaster in the world. It goes up 418 feet and then drops at a speed of 428 miles per hour to give you a once in a lifetime rush. Who needs those fighter planes when you get roller coasters like these. Don’t forget to carry your barf bags!

2: Free Falling – Bungee Jump off the BloukransBridge, South Africa

You might still be bragging about your fall from the tree when you were a kid, but you won’t after you read this. BloukransBridge in South Africa plays host to the highest commercially operated bungee jump in the world. Walk through a specially designed catwalk and on reaching the top of the arch, look down. Even the full body harness won’t save you from the chill creeping in as you look down 216 meters towards Bloukrans river. You never have so much fun fearing for your life.

1: A View to Dive For – Sky Diving on the Gold Coast, Australia

The best view of the Gold Coast is from the top. The turquoise ocean, the light brown strip of the sandy beaches, the harbour… but wait, you’re falling right into the view!! Sky diving on Gold Coast is the ultimate adventure activity. If you want to get your fill of the thrill, get into the helicopter that takes off from Mariner’s Cove, get harnessed to an experienced instructor and let go. You will never have experienced such a rush all your life.

So if you need to get your heart racing and know what living on the edge is like, let go off that PlayStation joystick and engage in any one of the eleven activities that’ll give you the adrenaline rush that you have been craving. If you manage to get none of these things done before you die, rest assured that the Devil’s not going to save you a place in Hell. And we all know that Hell is where the beautiful women are at.

Whitewater Rafting Rivers in Oregon

Oregon is one of the most scenic states in North America. With many protected national parks, forests and coastlines this naturally beautiful region is a vacation dream for the adventurous traveler. One of Oregon’s best recreational attractions is the fantastic whitewater rivers that are perfect for rafting and fishing. With several well known rivers crossing the state Oregon has no shortage of challenging and thrilling rafting sites that are great for families, friends, corporate outings and other group gatherings.

One of the west’s most enchanting and sought out rivers is the Rogue River that stretches nearly 200 miles from the Cascade Range near Crater Lake to the majestic waters of the Pacific Ocean. Featuring deep green pools, scenic forests and stunning waterfalls the Rogue River has been a tourist attraction for campers, fishermen, thrill seekers and rafters for years. In addition to the variety of sporting activities on the river itself the area around the Rogue River is full of deep forests, amazing wildlife and the rustic beauty that has made Oregon one of the last states to avoid commercialization and over-development.

On the Rogue River is one of Oregon’s most scenic attractions, an area known as Gold Hill. This section of the river flows 14 miles from the Gold Ray Dam above Gold Hill, past the valley of the Rogue state park and into the town of Rogue River. This area of the Rogue River features some of the best whitewater rafting runs in the state including the famous Nugget-Powerhouse section that provides ultra-challenging rafting experiences as well as family-friendly runs that are not as dangerous.

Another well-known and sought after river in Oregon is the Upper Klamath River that has been affectionately called “nature’s rollercoaster” by whitewater rafting fans. With amazing forest views, challenging rapids and a number of canyons the Upper Klamath is a dream river for any outdoor enthusiast. The Upper Klamath River is most known for the aptly named Hell’s Canyon Gorge where begins an 85-foot-per-mile drop that leads to other incredible rafting sections such as Caldera, Satan’s Gate and Ambush. The rapids are fast and furious and even experienced whitewater rafters can attest to the skill it takes to navigate these challenging areas.

For the expert whitewater rafter who isn’t afraid of the ultimate test the California-Salmon River, also called the Cal-Salmon, provides one of the most secluded and naturally preserved stretches of river that spans Northern California and into Oregon. Consistently ranking in the Top 5 of Class V whitewater rafting rivers the Cal-Salmon is a breath-taking thrill ride from start to finish that will surely test the rafting skills of even the most seasoned paddlers. The sparkling green waters quickly turn into frothing white water rapids with ominously named sections including Whirling Dervish, Last Chance and the Freight Train. This river is for experts only and will provide thrilling memories that will last a lifetime.

A Transatlantic Crossing With the Queen Mary 2 – Part 1

Day One:

Driving up to the Port of Southampton’s Mayflower Terminal and catching first glimpse of the white-and-black hulled Queen Mary 2, the largest, longest, tallest, heaviest, and most expensive ship ever built, evoked considerable excitement and awe. Docked to port at a 50-degree, 54.25′ north latitude and 001-degree, 25.70′ west longitude and facing a 116.4-degree compass heading, the 17-decked leviathan, with a 1,132-foot length and 148-foot width, featured a gross weight of 151,400 tons and towered above the buildings with its balcony-lined façade, eclipsing it with its 236.2-foot height. Its draft extended 33.10 feet beneath the water line. The floating metropolis, complete with its staterooms, restaurants, shopping arcades, libraries, theaters, and planetariums, would bridge, in six days, the European and North American continents, the equivalent in hours to the duration of the aerial crossing by 747-400, itself then the world’s largest commercial airliner. But the oceanic crossing would yield civility, refinement, rejuvenation, emotional repair, and return to the slower, but more elegant era of steam ship travel-a journey, I would soon find out, would lead to a search for the maritime history of the past which had created the technology of the present.

Unlike the proliferation of modern cruise ships with their comparatively lower speeds and greater-volume, square-geometry hulls, the Queen Mary 2 had been designed as a next-generation successor to the 35-year-old Queen Elizabeth 2 and, as such, would have to offer the same year-round, passenger-carrying capabilities, predominately in the rough North Atlantic, with a design which sacrificed revenue-producing volume and lower construction costs of the traditional cruise ship for the required safety, speed, and stability of the ocean liner. Resultantly, it featured the same v-shaped hull configuration characteristic of the long line of its Cunard predecessors, constructed of thicker steel which carried a 40-percent greater cost than those of conventional cruise ships. Designed by Stephen Payne, whose inspirations for the bow had come from the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the brake wall from the Normandie, it was the first quadruple-screw North Atlantic ocean liner since the France of 1962. Payne himself, a naval architect born and raised in London, had been involved with the Carnival Holiday, Carnival Fantasy, and Rotterdam VI projects. The latter, incorporating a modified Statendam hull, had featured a less “boxy” hull shape than the traditional cruise ship, but had still been considerably removed a full liner design.

Intended for the primary Southampton-New York route, it incorporated dimensional restrictions dictated by the United States port, including a funnel height which cleared the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by only ten feet and an overall length which exceeded the 1,100-foot pier of the Port of New York by 34 feet.

Constructed by Alstom Chantiers de l’Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France, which had also built the Normandie, and designated hull G32 by the shipyard, it had been the first Cunard liner ever constructed outside of the United Kingdom and, like Concorde, the world’s fastest and hitherto only supersonic airliner, became the second British-French collaborative transportation project intended for trans-Atlantic service, although via vastly different, if not opposite, modes.

Its interior offered unparalleled space and comfort. Of the 17 decks, the first four were for machinery, storage, and the 1,254-strong crew; 13 were for the 2,620 passengers; and eight contained balcony staterooms. Notable features included a Grand Lobby, the Royal Court Theatre, the Illuminations Theatre and Planetarium, the ConneXions Internet Center, the Queen’s Ballroom, a Winter Garden, nine major restaurants, 11 bars and lounges, an 8,000-volume library and bookstore, an Oxford University lecture program, performances by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, five swimming pools, sports venues, a Canyon Ranch Spa, a pavilion of shops, and a discotheque. These appointments would constitute my “home” for the next six days.

Symbolically reflected by its smaller QE2 predecessor berthed a considerable distance from its bow at the Queen Elizabeth 2 Terminal, the Queen Mary 2 represented a two-fold gross weight increase over its earlier-generation counterpart and, indeed, traced its lineage back to a long path of Cunard vessels which had spanned a 165-year period. I somehow sensed that the imminent crossing would not only be a journey of distance, but a return in time.

Gently vibrating at its spine, the behemoth laterally separated itself beneath from its berth below the metallic overcast at 1810, local time.

Unlike the conventional engine-propeller shaft technology of older-generation ships, the Queen Mary 2 was powered instead by four aft, hull underside-mounted Rolls Royce Mermaid electric-motor pods, each weighing 260 tons and containing four fixed-pitch, 9,900-pound, stainless steel blades, and collectively producing 115,328 horsepower. The forward, outboard pair was fixed and provided forward and astern propulsion, while the aft, inboard pair featured 360-degree azimuth capability and provided both propulsion and steering, obviating the need for the rudder. The advanced-technology system reduced both complexity and weight and increased internal hull volume by eliminating the traditional engine configuration’s associated equipment.

Three Rolls Royce variable-pitch, transverse-propeller bow thrusters, collectively producing 15,000 horsepower, provided port and starboard bow maneuvering capability at speeds of up to five knots. At eight knots, when their effectiveness had been exceeded, they were covered by 90-degree rotating, fluid-dynamic doors.

Led by dual water-sprout shooting tugboats, the behemoth oceanliner commenced its lumbering movement down the basin. Maintaining an 11.5-knot forward speed in the Solent, it commenced its starboard turn from 140 degrees at Calshots Reach at 1907, poised for the similar maneuver at Brambles.

Compressed into dark gray, the sun projected its glowing orange streaks outward through the thin, unobstructed strip on the western horizon. Assuming a 220-degree heading through the Thorn Channel, the Queen Mary 2 initiated its starboard turn to round the Isle of Wight.

The first dinner on board the elegant, maritime engineering triumph had been served in the 1,351-seat, three-story-high, dual-level Britannia Restaurant which had featured a grand, sweeping staircase, column supports, and a vaulted, back-lit, stained glass ceiling and was reminiscent of and inspired by the grand dining room salons of the 20th century French liners such as the Ile-de-France, the L’Atlantique, and the Normandie. The meal itself, served on Wedgwood bone china and in Waterford crystal, had included white zinfandel wine; cream of mixed mushroom soup with parmesan croutons; crusty rolls and butter; oak leaf and Boston salad with shaved carrots and sherry vinaigrette dressing; rack of pork with wild mushroom ragout, truffle mashed potatoes, morel sauce, and sauerkraut; warm apple strudel with brandy sauce; and coffee.

The thin line of orange lights outlining the coast traced itself behind the stern. Maintaining a 27-knot speed and a 250-degree heading, the rock-steady, 151,000-ton engineering mass plied the black channel and commenced its great circle course, from Bishop’s Rock in the Scilly Isles. Ahead lay the infinite Atlantic-and the path forged by every one of Cunard’s previous transatlantic liners. Tomorrow, I would begin tracing the historical one.

Day Two:

Dawn greeted the lengthy liner as a tunnel of indistinguishable, moist gray. Encased between the morose cloud dome above and the navy sea slate below, which spat periodic white caps, the black-and-red funneled vessel penetrated the moisture-saturated morning, the rain-emitting sky and the swirling, eddying sea merging into seamless, wind-blustery, ship-bombarded drench.

Any undesired movement, however, was quickly, and invisibly, dampened by the two pairs of 15.63-square-meter Brown Bros/Rolls Royce fin stabilizers which were controlled by gyroscopic vertical reference instruments and extended as far as 15 feet from the hull to counteract ship roll.

Plunging into 348-meter-deep waters 98 nautical miles off of Ireland at noon, the Queen Mary 2 had traversed 418 miles since its departure from Southampton yesterday.

Current weather entailed intermittent, light rain with a clockwise movement to the west, predicted to drop to force 4. The present force-5, fresh breeze out of the south, coupled with an 11.2-degree Celsius air temperature, carried a 994-millibar pressure. The sea, with a moderate 4 state, maintained a 10-degree Celsius temperature.

Afternoon tea, held in the Queen’s Room, had been a British tradition and a delightful intermittence between lunch and dinner served on every Cunard crossing, the last personal one of which had been the 2002 eastbound journey on the Queen Elizabeth 2. The Queen’s Room itself, the largest ballroom at sea, featured an arched ceiling, twin crystal chandeliers, a velvet blue and gold curtain over the orchestra stage, a 1,225-square-foot dance floor, a live harpist, and small, round tables seating up to 562. Today’s presentation included egg, ham and cheese, cucumber, tomato, beef, and seafood finger-sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and strawberry cream tarts.

Afternoon tea at sea could trace its lineage back some 165 years. Einstein’s theory of relativity somehow seemed to apply. Suspended between continent, landmass, and population, the ship seemed caught within a void, an arrested warp in which history seemed captured and in which the vessel reconnected with its past, as it once again replayed it, a separation from the present on land and an approach to its past on the sea. It was to this suspension of time, distance, and place that the threads of Cunard’s past indeed led. One man, who had lived some 200 years ago, had made the journey of today possible.

The name of that man, of course, had been the same as that which had graced a long line of ever-advancing Atlantic ocean liners, Samuel Cunard. Born on November 21, 1787 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as the son of Abraham Cunard, himself a carpenter at Halifax’s Royal Naval Dockyard, he had forged a maritime link upon physical entry into the world. His initial venture had entailed a Royal Mail contract award to transport mail over the Boston-Halifax-St. John’s route after cessation of the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States, while he later became involved with the first steam-powered vessel project intended for Atlantic crossings. Named the Royal William, the 160-foot-long, 1,370-ton ship had been inaugurated into service in August of 1931 between Quebec and Halifax, requiring 6.5 days for the journey.

The venture which had sparked his ultimate fame, however, occurred at the end of the decade when the British government had announced its intention to subsidize steam-powered mail service between England and the United States. In a formal proposal to fulfill the requirement, submitted on February 11, 1839, Cunard outlined a bimonthly, steam-powered service between England and Halifax operated by 300-hp ships making 48 annual crossings. Awarded a contract by the Admiralty in June for four 206-foot-long, 400-hp, 1,120-ton vessels ultimately to be designated the Acadia, the Caledonia, the Columbia, and the Britannia, he finalized plans to serve the Liverpool-Halifax-Boston route.

The latter ship, the Britannia, had actually been the first to be completed. The 207-foot-long, 34-foot-wide hybrid power ship, constructed of African oak and yellow pine at Robert Duncan’s Shipyard on the River Clyde in Scotland, had featured a clipper bow, three masts with square yards, and two mid-ship-located, black-and-gold paddle boxes which extended almost 12 feet from either side and contained 9-foot-wide, 28-foot-diameter paddles turning at 16 revolutions per minute and operating off of a 403-hp, two-cylinder, side-lever steam engine which burned 40 tons of coal per day exhausted through a single, aft smoke stack. The engine, requiring 70 feet of hull for installation, drew coal from a 640-ton bunker.

Of the four decks, the upper, or main deck, featured the captain and chief officer cabins, the pantry, the galley, the officers’ mess, the crew cabins, the raised, exposed bridge, and the dining saloon, which, at 36 feet long and 14 feet wide, had been the largest enclosed room on the ship. Two aft, circular staircases linked the dining hall with the second deck, which housed the gentlemen’s and ladies’ cabins, each with two bunk beds, a wash basin, a mirror, a day sofa, and a port hole or an oil lamp, with shared toilet facilities, equaling a 124-person capacity, of which 24 had been female. The cargo holds, located on either side of the engine yet another deck lower and capable of accommodating 225 tons, accompanied the sail locker, the mail room, the stores, the steward quarters, and the wine cellar in the stern. Coal had been stored on the fourth, or lowest, deck.

The 1,154-ton Britannia, inaugurated into scheduled service on July 4, 1840 from Liverpool to Boston with an intermediate stop in Halifax, operated the world’s first transatlantic steam ship service, carrying 63 passengers and taking 12 days, ten hours for the 2,534-nautical-mile crossing at an 8.5-knot speed, one third of the journey undertaken by pure-sail. After an eight-hour port suspension in Halifax, it continued to Boston in another 46 hours.

By January 5, 1841, all four Cunard ships had entered the fleet.

The Britannia itself made 40 round-trips before being sold to the Prussian Navy, which had converted it to a pure-sailing ship used for target purposes and renamed it Barbarossa. It was ultimately sunk in 1880. Nevertheless, it paved the way for a long line of Cunard liners to come.

Biting into the angry, dark-blue, white cap-spitting North Atlantic on a 272-degree heading at 1545 with its protruding, bulbous bow, the mighty Queen Mary 2 engineering triumph pitched on its axis at a 23.4-knot speed, the sun’s rays having been powerful enough to tear the singular cloud fabric into a puffy, white mosaic of aerial islands. The ship had reached a 50-degree, 12.036′ north latitude and 14-degree, 26.312′ west longitude coordinate.

That night’s dinner, served in the Britannia Restaurant, had included Merlot wine; smoked halibut mousse and jumbo shrimp on Russian salad; Lollo Rosso and apple salad with caramelized walnuts and cider vinaigrette; filet mignon and lobster tail with young roasted potatoes, polenta cake, and asparagus in hollandaise sauce; chocolate banana tart with mango sauce; coffee; and petit fours.

The Britannia, as a ship design, had been only the beginning, and would pale in comparison to the leviathan Cunard vessels produced in the 20th century.

Day Three:

Continually bowled significant sea swells, the Queen Mary 2 had pitched through the dark blue, star-glittering night at its center of gravity like a seesaw, its bow pounding the mountainous wave troughs and projecting avalanche-white reactions at 45 degrees from its centerline.

Breakfast, eaten in the King’s Court with its multiple stations, had included a ham and pepper omelet, bacon, hashbrowned potatoes, a grilled tomato, white toast, and cranberry juice.

Negotiating 25- to 30-foot seas over the mid-Atlantic ridge, which covers the Continental Divide, the ship had sailed 590 nautical miles in the 24-hour period since 1200 noon yesterday, now pursuing a 263-degree heading, with 2,075 miles remaining to the New York Pilot’s Station.

Light rain showers were forecast to dissipate, with gradual clearing. The force-5 wind, out of the northwest, had produced 9-degree Celsius temperatures, with a 996.5-millibar pressure. The sea, whose moderate state had been registered a “4,” maintained a 12-degree temperature.

Gazing out toward the Atlantic’s infinity, I could not help but think that somewhere out there, if not in physical space, then in historical time, had been the first of the “huge” Cunard Atlantic liners which assuredly had passed this way during the beginning of the 20th century.

The design, the Lusitania, had had its origins as early as 1902 when J.P. Morgan had attempted to create a steamship conglomerate called the International Mercantile Marine by buying several existing companies, including the White Star Line. In order to ensure Cunard’s continued autonomy and dissuade its absorption into the ever-expanding corporation, the British Parliament had granted it a 20-year contract and subsidy to build two of the world’s then largest and fastest liners and, in the process, regain the speed record the Germans had captured with three of their twin-screw vessels.

Cunard, seeking tenders for the two ships from four shipyards, specified a 750-foot length, a 76-foot width, and a 59,000-hp capability attained by reciprocating engines driving triple screws. The contract, awarded to John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland, resulted in a 790-foott length and an 88-foot width, eclipsing the 30,000-ton gross weight by 2,500 tons for the first time, and employing turbine engine technology, also for the first time, with a 68,000-hp combined capability, exhausted, in an effort to emulate the Germans, through four funnels.

Construction, commencing in the fall of 1904, produced two of the largest, fastest, and most powerful Atlantic liners ever built with long, sleek designs; straight sterns; rounded bridges; and four raked funnels sporting 787-foot lengths, 87-foot widths, and 31,550-ton gross weights propelled by steam turbines geared to quadruple screws.

Accommodating 563 first class passengers amidships, 464 aft second class passengers, and 1,138 third, or steerage, class passengers in the forward portion of the hull, the first of the two new liners featured opulent appointments. A Georgian-style lounge sported light green colors, a marble fireplace, stained glass panes, and a 20-foot-high dome. The Veranda Café had latticed wall patterns and rattan furniture. The dining room, of dual-deck configuration, had been the first of its kind on a Cunard ship. The main lounge had been decorated with mahogany paneling, while the smoking room featured dark Italian walnut. The second class dining saloon also sported Georgian appointments and the drawing room had been decorated in the Louis XVI style. Featuring electricity for the first time, the Lusitania provided modern conveniences to its passengers, including two elevators.

On its second westbound crossing, the liner beat all speed records, averaging 23.993 knots and covering a 617-mile, single-day distance, although it ultimately broke the 26-knot mark, reaching New York in four days, 20 hours.

Its fate, however, was not to remain so successful. Departing England on its 202nd voyage on May 1, 1915 with 1,257 passengers, 702 crew members, and three stowaways, the ship had approached Great Britain, sailing ten miles off of Old Head of Kinsale when it had been broadsided by a German torpedo, listing forward and to starboard. Slipping oceanward at a 45-degree, bow-first angle, it hit bottom 18 minutes later, exploding and killing 1,201 on board, the result of a deliberate act of war.

Because not an outcrop of land is sighted during the six-day Atlantic crossing, the Queen Mary 2 seemed suspended in a void between two continents, the journey about course, speed, weather, sea state, distance, and interior life, the temporary, although ever-moving civilization atop the sea.

Soldiering on, the ship burned 3.1 tons of heavy fuel oil per hour at a 100-percent load to operate its diesel engines, or 261 tons per day at a 29-knot steam speed, while it used 6 tons of marine gas oil per hour to run its gas turbines, or 237 tons per day, drawing off of a 1,412,977-US gallon tank for the former and a 966,553-gallon tank for the latter.

Its fresh water supply, produced from seawater by 3 Alfa Laval Multi Effect Plate Evaporators, replenished itself at the rate of 630 tons per day, satisfying its 1,100-ton daily consumption. The potable water tank capacity equaled 1,011,779 US gallons.

A German-themed lunch, served in the King’s Court, had included bratwurst, bacon sauerkraut, cheese spaetzel, roasted potatoes, schnitzel, and black forest cake.

Maintaining a 261-degree heading and a 23.1-knot steam speed, the city at sea had reached a 49-degree, 43.705′ north latitude and 28-degree, 25.458′ west longitude position by 1500.

The Queen Mary 2’s Winter Garden, designed after the skylighted verandah cafes of the Mauretania, had featured a 60-by-25-foot trompe l’oeil ceiling depicting a lush, verdant gardens, paneled walls which looked through cast iron gates to rolling hills, and wicker furniture, and had been created to counteract the cold, gray, turbulent winter of the North Atlantic.

The Mauretania itself, the ship which had provided the Winter Garden’s inspiration, had been the second of the two early-20th century Cunard designs after the Lusitania. The nine-decked liner, accommodating 563 first class passengers in 253 cabins, 464 second class passengers in 133 cabins, and 1,138 third class passengers in 278 cabins, had featured its own opulent appointments. The first class smoking room, for example, located in the stern, had featured polished wood wall panels and plaster friezes. The lounge, located on the Boat Deck and measuring 80 by 53 feet, had been adorned with mahogany wall panels, gold moldings, long ceiling beams, gilt bronze, and crystal chandeliers. The library, featuring bay windows, had been decorated with sycamore paneling. The first class dining room, seating 330, had been configured with long, white clothed tables and revolving chairs, and was decorated with polished ash, teak-molded paneling, and arched windows, while the second class dining room, with parquet floors, featured Georgian oak paneling and carved cornices. A grand staircase, installed between the second and third funnels, connected five decks with the public rooms.

Entering service on November 16, 1907 between Liverpool and New York, the Mauretania had been retrofitted with four-bladed propellers two years later, in 1909, at which time it could attain maximum speeds of 26.6 knots. It had been only the first of several modifications. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, for instance, it had been repainted gray and briefly served as a troop ship, reliveried and returned to commercial service five years later in 1919, at which time it operated in company with the Aquitania and Berengaria, offering weekly east- and westbound service on the Southampton-New York route. It remained the fastest of the three.

Yet another modification, necessitated by fire, resulted in conversion to oil-burning engine technology and cabin reconfiguration, reducing both the second and third class passenger capacities.

In its 27 years of operation, during 22 of which it had held the North Atlantic speed record until it had been recaptured by the Bremen in 1929, the Mauretania had sailed some 2.1 million miles in transatlantic, Mediterranean, and Caribbean service before being usurped by two larger, more advanced Cunard liners. Making its last crossing on September 26, 1934, it was scraped the following year in Scotland.

That evening’s dinner, served in the Queen Mary 2’s Britannia Restaurant, had featured white zinfandel wine; baby shrimp thermidor on walnut brioche; cob salad with smoked chicken and bleu cheese dressing; roasted seabass with Mediterranean vegetables and olive tapenade; banana foster flambee with rum raisin ice cream and whipped cream; and coffee.

The Lusitania and Mauretania replacements, although larger, would prove a motley pair: although one had been the third in the series, it had been slower, while the other had been transferred from the fleet of the enemy, the Germans.

Day Four:

Suspended in the middle of the Atlantic, the black-hulled leviathan pursed its Great Circle course on a 249-degree heading, eating the gray and foamy-white ocean with its bow with a 21.7-knot appetite. Four hundred seventy miles off the coast of Newfoundland, the ship negotiated 3,549-meter-deep waters, having covered 607 nautical miles in the 24-hour period since yesterday, now 1,615 miles from Southampton. At a current 47-degree, 34.066′ north latitude and 042-degree, 00.754′ west longitude position, it was 1,468 miles from its destination.

External conditions were mild: the air temperature, at 14 degrees Celsius, had been coupled with a force-4 moderate breeze out of the southwest and low level cloud, with a 989-millibar air pressure. The sea, whose state had been slight, had a 12.7-degree Celsius temperature.

If the triplet of early 20th-century Cunard liners could have sailed past the Queen Mary 2 in chronological order, the Aquitania would have trailed both the Lusitania and the Mauretania, the third of the long, sleek, quad-funneled vessels constructed by John, Brown and Company of Clydebank.

The 45,647-ton ship, with a 901-foot length and a 97-foot width, had been both larger and heavier than its two predecessors, resulting in a 3,200-passenger capacity. Launched on April 21, 1913, it had commenced trial runs 13 months later, achieving a 24-knot maximum speed, and entered commercial service on May 30, 1914 on the Liverpool-New York route.

Opulently appointed, it featured a long gallery which connected the main lounge with the smoking room decorated with a series of garden lounges; a carpeted, Louis XVI-style first class restaurant; a columned Palladian lounge, which spanned two decks; and the first pool ever installed on a Cunard ship.

Late to the North Atlantic, the Aquitania had sailed on the fringes of World War I and had been requisitioned by the government for military service as an armed merchant cruiser in August of 1914; but, because of its excessive size, had been recommissioned as a troop ship the following year. Reconfigured for ocean liner service after the war, the ship resumed its civil role in August of 1920, amending its capacity six years later, in 1916, when a major reconfiguration decreased the first class passenger complement from 618 to 610, increased the second class capacity from 614 to 950, and dramatically decreased the third class complement by some three-forths, from 1,998 to 640, in order to more accurately match passenger class demand.

Once again reconfigured to a 7,724-person troop ship during World War II, the Aquitania provided eight years of military service during which it had sailed 500,000 miles and carried more than 300,000 troops.

Arriving in Southampton on December 1, 1949, the multiple-role vessel ended 35 years of service, having sailed some 3 million miles on 443 voyages. It had been Cunard’s last quad-funneled design.

Lunch, back in the present on the Queen Mary 2, had been served in The Carvery, itself one of the King’s Court stations, and had included beef tikka masala, white rice, cauliflower in cheese sauce, and double chocolate fudge cake.

Although the Aquitania’s very long, mulitple-role, and fruitful career had ended in 1949, it had, for the most part, continued to operate in tandem, as originally conceived, with two other Cunard transatlantic liners, despite the fact that the Lusitania had been destroyed almost immediately after entering service. The third ship, however, emanated not from a Cunard blueprint given life by a ship builder on the Clyde, but instead by the very enemy which had necessitated its replacement.

Endeavoring to compete with the Cunard and White Star Line designs which now regularly plied the Atlantic, the Hamburg-America Line had laid the keel of a new breed of transatlantic liners on June 18, 1910, intended to be the largest-capacity, highest gross weight passenger ship ever built. The specifications were, for the time, staggering: measuring 919 feet long and 98 feet wide, the elongated, tri-funneled, 52,117-ton ship, designated the Imperator, had been powered by steam engines geared to four-bladed propellers feeding off of 8,500-tons of coal nourishing two 69- and 95-foot-long engine rooms, respectively. Accommodating 908 first class, 972 second class, 942 third class, and 1,772 steerage class passengers, the behemoth, steered by a 90-ton rudder, was christened on May 23, 1912 and entered commercial service 13 months later, on June 10, from Cuxhaven to New York with an intermediate stop in Southampton.

The Imperator featured a First Class winter garden with potted palm trees and a dual-deck indoor swimming pool.

Because initial service had demonstrated top-heavy conditions, its three funnels were shortened by nine feet during an autumn retrofit.

Ultimately banned from sailing because of World War I German atrocities, the ship had been moored in Hamburg for four years until a war reparation agreement resulted in its transfer to Cunard in 1919 as compensation for the German-sunk Lusitania. Rebased in Southampton two years later, in April of 1921, it had been subjected to an initial retrofit during which its coal-burning engine technology had been replaced with oil and it had been reconfigured with 972, 630, 606, and 515 first, second, third, and tourist passengers, respectively. Redesignated Berengaria, the ship joined the Mauretania and Aquitania, operating Cunard’s weekly transatlantic service. Although it had been originally planned to continue operating it until 1940, its antiquated wiring system, which resulted in persistent on-board fires, had precluded its anticipated service longevity, temporarily leaving only the Mauretania and Aquitania until a new breed of Cunard liners, to offer double the tonnage of the existing designs, could enter service. That ship, of course, bore the name of the current one: Queen Mary.

Dinner, served in La Piazza Restaurant on board the (present-day) Queen Mary 2, had included a mixed green salad with ranch dressing; artichoke hearts; vegetable moussaka; pasta with onions, mushrooms, black olives, garlic, and red tomato sauce; tiramisu; and coffee.

Dusk could be more accurately gauged by looking beyond the wooden deck with its Queen Mary I-reminiscent line of deck chairs and down toward the sea, rather than up toward the sky. The former, a reflection of the latter, had appeared a deep blue, mirroring the temporary brightness of the sky during the early-evening when the mountainous white cumulous formations had parted, creating a blue rift. It then rapidly metamorphosed into a dark blue and, momentarily, a cold, morose, winter gray, the prevalent environmental conditions of so many earlier transatlantic crossings, as the dark, billowing clouds reassembled into a tight, cohesive quilt, hindering even a momentary glimpse of the sun. Merging dimensionally with the ocean, the amorphous, referenceless void cacooned the floating city until visibility extended no further than ten feet from either of its sides. Two souls, well dressed, braved the fierce, blustering wind as they attempted, buttressed by the force, to circle the deck. Thus was life on a transatlantic crossing.

As the day bordered the midnight demarcation line, the ship crossed from the Newfoundland Basin to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and, effectively, reached the North American continent. Two days of steaming remained before it arrived at its terminus, the Port of New York.

Desert Canyon Rehab Closes – More Closures Coming Soon

Here in California, the County and State funded drug treatment programs have been cutting back and/or laying off staff for a while now. Long-term programs have become 10-day “spin-drys” in the blink of an eye. It was only a matter of time before economic conditions began to force private detox facilities and inpatient rehabs into cutting back as well.

But I never thought the dominos would start falling with a well-respected program (a 12-step alternative treatment center) located in Arizona. Using a Wellness model rather than the disease model of addiction, Desert Canyon was one of the first large-scale treatment centers to introduce a Holistic approach to treating addiction. And remarkably, in my 8 plus years attending treatment conferences, consulting with other rehabs, or posting my opinions all over the ‘net, I never heard a negative word about them. You’ll just have to trust me when I say how truly remarkable that really is.

It was while making my rounds surfing the Internet the other morning that I happened to follow a link that led me to their front page.

At the very top was written, “We are sorry to announce that Desert Canyon has closed its doors due to economic conditions…”

And that’s it. A program that had gone into business to help people was forced to make a business decision. That decision resulted in the closing of its doors and the laying off of its entire staff. And at once I was reminded that the treatment industry has become just that…an industry. A profit-driven business model that can be affected by the economy the same way a bank, a gas station or a restaurant can.

And while the idealist in me wanted to immediately go into denial, I’ve been inside far too many treatment center board rooms and attended too many treatment conferences to let that happen.


It has for a long time now.

Slowly, but very surely, individual owner-operators of rehabs are being bought out and squeezed out by the new “Corporate Clinicians”. Most of whom have never experienced for themselves the agony of addiction. I cannot and will not try to claim that I know their motives. But this I do know: The men and women in charge of Addiction Treatment today did not come up through AA or NA, LifeSpring, The Salvation Army or even Rational Recovery. Most have never been to a meeting or made a 12-step call or took a panel to Skid Row. I think I would be safe in betting that not even a fraction of a percentage have ever tied-off under a bridge or personally know anyone at 5th and Broadway.

They went to college and majored in Finance or Marketing or Business and learned that addiction treatment took in quite a bit of cash and checks, plus insurance money, grants, and for the non-profits, tax-exempt status.

And they learned that because they were now part of a “Helping Profession” that the communities they “served” would automatically respect them. Heck, they are even given awards by their neighbors and their peers! By making the career  decision to go into the treatment business instead of becoming a stock broker or financial analyst, they could make plenty of money and even get their picture in the paper a few times a year…and it isn’t even a mug shot.

What had somehow remained “mom and pop” far longer than any economist would have believed, this budding industry is now having to answer to shareholders and CEO’s.

I have no facts to make the argument that this is a negative trend. Yet. But I don’t have any information with which I can form a positive opinion either. Recent news regarding the behaviors and actions of the “leaders” of many other industries- banking, Wall Street, automobile manufacturing to name a few- forces me to take a long hard look down the road.

And the realist in me can easily imagine a day when when, much like our automobile industry, we will have a Big Three of Addiction Treatment. It figures. Just when science finally begins to “catch up” with addiction; spending time, energy and money on the many possibilities for both harm reduction and yes, maybe even a “cure”, the options for the addict have begun disappearing.

Is it a coincidence that our politicians have suddenly begun to rethink our countries failed drug war? Or is it because they’ve used up every other option for acquiring funding and fear that what’s happening here in California today could be reality for their State tomorrow? California State funded programs-rehabs, food banks, community colleges… almost every one of course but prisons, were issued IOU’s from a bureaucracy that has no idea how they’re going to make up a deficit hovering close to 45 Billion (with a “B”) dollars.

A deficit so big that men who have opposed abortion their entire political careers, or fought to keep the drinking age at 21 (while allowing 18 year olds to die in a war that was launched on lies), are really and truly considering the legalization of Marijuana… Pot. Weed. Mary Jane. Reefer.

Is it because they were struck by the realization that their Drug Policies have been a miserable failure? I think not. I think it’s because someone put pen to paper and showed them the “pot” of gold that legalization would bring. The taxes that would be generated by legalizing Marijuana would be more than enough to get even the worst politician re-elected at least a few more times.

So its off into the sunset for the Desert Canyon drug and alcohol treatment program. I wish all of them nothing but the best. As for the rest of us? I have to wonder… If we don’t buy State grown weed will more teachers be laid-off? Will I be placing an unfair burden on my neighbor if I don’t smoke the Official State Blunts? Actually, I really shouldn’t worry. Now that addiction treatment will be run by big corporations (putting them in direct opposition to addiction research of any kind), they’ll be paying their fair share of corporate taxes.

Big corporations always pay their fair share…right?

Jump In The Technology Bandwagon With Refinance Mortgage Arizona

It’s funny how computer companies that were nonexistent a quarter of a century ago are now setting trends and milestones for older and supposedly more established companies. When Microsoft and America Online outsourced some of their services to India and the Philippines, other companies with services ranging from automotive to medical followed suit. When the software company Intuit started utilizing the vast Arizona deserts and plains, others started seeing the possibilities.

Make Yourself At Home

Since then, Arizona has been playing host to huge corporations, most notably America Online, American Express, and Intuit. The state’s high-tech sector experienced a massive growth in employment in software and computers, electronics, aerospace, telecommunications, and engineering. Even Wal-Mart has jumped into the bandwagon.

And it’s not stopping. With such a remarkable development, refinance mortgage Arizona has been increasingly utilized by residents new and old alike.

It’s The Gold Rush All Over Again

The phenomenon is strangely reminiscent of the gold rush of old when thousands of people all over the world flocked to this area of the continental United States to mine gold. This time, however, gold is in computer chips and it doesn’t look like it will be as ill-fated as the original gold rush, as is apparent from the patronage experienced by refinance mortgage Arizona.

Instead of a boom town, the state now has several. Housing projects are emerging all over the state like mushrooms in the rain with most of the properties obtained through refinance mortgage Arizona.

There’s Nothing Like Space To Set The Pace

So why Arizona? It can probably be attributed to the fact that of the state’s 118,000 square miles, only 15% is privately owned. The area is vast and is a veritable minefield of resources that can be used for sensitive high-tech projects, especially in software development, aerospace engineering, and telecommunications. Also, the vastness of the desert provides the perfect camouflage to safeguard top secret projects of a sensitive nature and keeps the risks confined in such a sparsely populated region.

Yes, Arizona is indeed still very much sparsely populated, even with all the housing projects brought about by refinance mortgage Arizona. Of course, safety is always a concern. However, refinance mortgage Arizona has made sure that housing is well away from the technology hub of the area. Besides, the space itself is the best safety that Mother Nature could provide, definitely something that Arizona isn’t in shortage of.

The Environmental Question

With all these technological giants settling all over Arizona, could the state’s many canyons, forests, and reservations be in danger? They might be, but as long as the companies do their part in preserving the environment, Arizona will come to no harm. That’s why companies like Intuit and American Express are setting examples by sponsoring regular clean up drives of the state’s many deserts and mesas. Thankfully, some of the other companies have since followed suit. After all, keeping Arizona as untouched and unharmed as possible is to everyone’s benefit. Why shouldn’t it be a priority?

A Look At Caldwell ID; Economic Research

Caldwell and Nampa Idaho Research

(Economic City Report Service Sector)

Economic Report on Caldwell, ID. First I would like to comment on the first rate job being done by Mr. Al Ames of the Caldwell Economic Development Council. He and his team have devised a revitalization of the down town area. There is a river flowing under the city, which has been paved over and built upon. They will be uncovering about 10 blocks of it and changing the area to allow for a Downtown River Walk like in San Antonio. It will be called the Indian Creek “River Walk” (actually the Boise River officially still) and it is impressive and they have in place all the funding. At the end of the area is a Turn about being built to allow for five directional traveling including allowing people to get onto the two downtown one-way streets. There is a six-acre piece of property available which was an old pallet factory, the owner wishes to move it. Perfect for a Large Service Business. Many new homes going in and we expect a continuing growth there that will be unparallel and should surpass the Nampa, ID growth in terms of percentage increases in 2004-2006. Nampa now the sign says 68,680 but that is wrong way more people and growth everywhere.

When we met with Mr. Ames for an hour, he said he was meeting with Senator Mike Crapo that afternoon to alert him of the ongoing progress and excellent recruitment work. They are inline with our thinking, Caldwell is going to have a population explosion and they are revitalizing just in time. They are working on implementing a project called L.I.F.T. Local Infrastructure Financing Trust. Mr. Aimes worked under President Carter in charge of NV, ID, OR economic development and did an awesome job creating jobs and setting the local cities and counties back on track to help tax base and cities provide services. Mr. Aimes also was in charge of the Torch in Downtown Newport Beach, CA. during his stint there. It has been burning 30 years now. I have been discussing on this board the various river walks and downtown revitalizing a key to cities, which have had agriculture (now done by machines and corporate farming) based economies and manufacturing jobs that have gone over seas.

As economies move to retail and services and leisure and the baby boomers grow older and desire these things this is a good play to help those towns which have had areas boarded up and small businesses gone out of business due to decreased jobs and box store corporate merchandising. The population in Caldwell is a mere 30,800 up from 25,900 in about a year and a half. New residential park going in now called; Delaware Park, with single family dwellings. Some of the older crowd moving in who cannot afford the higher priced Meadow Lake Retirement Village, similar to a Sun City, ID style. Sky Ranch Industrial Park is a major upgrade, 65 acre industrial park which will make it the largest in ID and rivaling Anaconda Industrial Transportation hub area outside of Butte. West Valley Medical Center allows for those older people to move in and have all the medical services they need, it also allows for many high paying jobs. Canyon County is growing at about 2.6% since 2000. Nampa at 4.8% and Garden City has about 11,000 people in it now. Meridian has 34,919 and Eagle has 12,000 now and growing high end. The whole area is picking up the growth that the build out in Boise could not sustain as the construction and growth has nearly hit all city limits. Since 1970 ID has lost about 4,000 family farms, some to corporate farmers like J.R. Simplots buying them up for sales of frozen potatoes to McDonalds. Also grown in this area of ID are Peas, which makes it number one in the world for peas. Barley, Hops, Onions which were originally Simplots first crop which they dehydrated and shipped which helped build the town.

In 1941 they started doing potatoes in WWII. Caldwells origins were with the railroad during the gold rush in CA. Many hotels, saloons, etc, made the town grow fast in its early days. Caldwell was named after C.A. Caldwell Ex-governor of Kansas in 1890. In 1884 the area before it became a city had 600 residents, 150 buildings, 40 businesses and 3 churches. Albertson College was built in 1891. Yes same family that own Albertsons Grocery today which is HQ in Boise, ID. Today Canyon County has some 380,000 irrigated acres, most irrigated from Snake River. Caldwell has much Dairy Industry farms. For every 1000 Dairy Cows it employs about 30 people. National Dairy Association. Milk, Cheese and Cows are big business in the US and huge in this region.

The Annual Fair is happening now until August 19.


The Aircraft Museum has moved to a brand new Facility in Nampa. $5.00 per visit and worth the money.

[http://www.WarhawkMuseum.com] .

The business community is very united and aggressively working with the economic development departments and the city on behalf of small business in the area and sports a large chamber of commerce. The office space and retail space leasing prices are about; $8.00 to $15.00 in Ada County it is little higher by a buck or two stated a commercial real estate broker we met in Starbucks in Boise. In Canyon County 61% of the Population is either in Nampa or Caldwell, Industrial is low at about $.20-35 or so. Over 60% of the industrial buildings in the county are within city limits of Nampa and Caldwell.


check out the aerial views on that site. Lots of opportunity in this region of our Great Nation; Caldwell is next to have the exponential growth in ID;

[http://www.ci.caldwell.id.us] .

Mike Gable agrees Exec. Director. In Caldwell we found some nice properties too near the freeway for about 175K per acre, so for businesses moving in it is quite affordable. We also talked with the Chamber of Commerce in Caldwell and Meridian both were hyper-optimistic about growth and working hard to keep infrastructure ahead of the curve, the program is working; We agree with their observations completely.

Tourism is alive and well. The average California Tourist spends $349.00 in Idaho. Oregonians spend average of $104.00 and Washington travelers spend $113.00 . Tourism is about to get even better after the Indian Creek River walk is completed. But also not to be underestimated is businesses such as Darigold, West Farms and Crookham Seed-Hybrid Corn. Many people work in Boise and live in Nampa and Caldwell, which is stressing I-84 and the 184 City Center FWY link. Some jobs are call center jobs, one is for Direct TV and they pay $8.00 per hour instead of $5.15 minimum, because they say listening to a complaining caller about their HBO service. For information about all of this check out the 43 Billion Sales in ID.

http://www.idahoworks.com .

Canyon County’s Labor force is over $69,000 and unemployed is 5.9% so things are good for operating a service business in that region. This region of ID is looking good for 2005, we are bullish on the Caldwell, Meridian, Eagle, Nampa Markets.

San Diego History

Once upon a time, a little town that we now know as San Diego, was inhabited by only the Kumeyaay people. That small town now stands as one of the biggest and prosperous cities in the United States. Its population now reaches 1,255,240 people and is proud to be the second largest city in California and the eighth largest in the United States. Its geographical position, on the southern coast of California, makes it the perfect destination for vacationers. There are so many things tourists desire: stunning beaches, fabulous weather, endless activities and a top convention destination. The prospering San Diego economy, was made possible by it’s focus on tourism, trade, agriculture, ship-building, the military, biotechnology, computer sciences and electronics. Thanks to this economic development the city’s appearance is being reflected both on the life style of the people and in the design of the buildings. Both tourists and citizens are welcomed to enjoy the downtown area where they will find attractive gathering places, overhead walkways, parks, historic districts and fantastic shopping in innovative centers and residential developments.

But the town was not always the prosperous city we all know. Its beginnings are tied to the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who first discovered San Diego and claimed it for Spain. He discovered the bay and named it San Miguel and was known under this name until 1602. The Spanish explorer Don Sebastian Viscaino, a Spanish Catholic saint, changed the name into St. Didacus known as “San Diego”. He was first celebrated on November 12, 1602 when the Spanish fort and mission complex, the Presidio, was founded. We now know this area as Old Town, which is a favorite tourist destination in San Diego.

At that time the town was an important shipping point for cattle hide and quarried stone. In order to prove how important this shipping point was we can take the city of Boston as an example since it was paved with stone brought from San Diego.

After 1822, when Mexico gained its independence from Spain, San Diego became the capital of Mexican California. San Diego was under Mexico’s control for about 24 years until it was passed to the United States in 1846.. The town was incorporated as a city in 1850.

The town developed in the next twenty years especially thanks to the whaling port. The town’s downtown was made of a 1,000-acre plot that was then bought by Alonzo E. Horton in 1867. Alonzo started the town’s development by laying out streets, building a wharf and a hotel, and then donating land for churches. The town’s population increased quickly especially after 1870, due to the gold strike. In 1885, when Santa Fe Railroad and a number of eastern investors arrived in the city there were 40,000 people living in the area.

San Diego managed to overcome the economic setbacks from economic and business life even though there were times when the city registered a regression visible in the number of population that dwindled to 17,000 people. The obscurity that lied upon the town was caused by the more developed cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. After the World War II, San Diego extended his territory with almost 20 miles in each direction and became a military center, home base for a large number of naval trainees that were relocated to the city as civilians. So did the city begin its growth and development that has never ceased. The town’s territory expanded after the addition of new distinct communities that developed in the nearby canyons and valleys; territories that though incorporated into San Diego retain a separate identity.

Many of California’s famous fruit and vegetables come from the San Diego’s south side that has a rich agricultural area. These fruits and vegetables are shipped worldwide from San Diego’s port that can be found in the north side of the city. This north side is the area where tourists will find hotels, spectacular cliff homes, and recreational amenities.

The city continued its development and was able to surpass San Francisco as California’s second largest city. One of the things that kept the city alive was the Centre City Development Corporation which is a comprehensive group of developers, financial experts, and civic leaders. San Diego has also been declared as the most efficiently run big city in California and it won’t stand for anything less.

San Diego has overcome many challenges and has proven itself to be one of America’s favorite big cities. Come visit San Diego and experience for yourself all that this treasure has to offer.