Then I went for a long walk

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Luckily, my first night alone aboard the Queen Mary was uneventful. Maybe I had some trouble falling asleep, but otherwise I was pretty okay. I woke up too early (thanks, time zones) but that meant I got some extra time to catch the sunrise through my porthole.

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My plan for the day was to head to the other side of the bay! But first: breakfast in bed.

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After some nourishment and too much coffee (a whole pot of coffee for the girl who drinks decaf maybe once a week? I only had one cup and it was too much), I set out on a long journey.

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I know that this post was mostly for show, but I still think it’s funny that the whole ship is tied to it.

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The thing about traveling alone? Lots of selfies.

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The walk between the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific on the other side of the bay is about a mile. It wasn’t a bad walk, either — I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bridge over the bay had a special pedestrian walkway. I also got a chance to pause to watch a couple guys fishing right off of the shore. They were reeling something in, which turned out to be a little manta ray! That doesn’t happen in Minnesota. I wish I had snapped a photo; I was in such awe.

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Birds of Paradise are one of the best flowers.

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Aquariums are a little more fun with a friend. Or maybe they’re just more fun when they’re not as crowded. There was an event going on that day where all of the kids of Long Beach had piled in wearing their Halloween costumes. There was face painting, jack-o-lantern judging, and just a lot of people. It’s hard to take the time to properly enjoy each little tank when you feel like there are a million people behind you, waiting to take the same look. In fact, there were several exhibits I skipped because of the actual lines involved (no star fish touch tank for me).

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It was fun to “be underwater” with the sea lions, though, and people didn’t seem to linger in this little tunnel.

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It was also much easier to take my time at the outdoor exhibits. I touched several sharks and a manta ray or two.

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I also stood in the very back of the arena-style seating area for the sea lion show, so I got to enjoy a brief brake from managing the moving crowds.

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This photo doesn’t do the crowds any justice. It was a lot more insane than it looks.

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There was a lot to see at this aquarium! I was unfortunately running out of time after a while because I needed to get back to the ship to report for volunteer duty.

I took just a couple more looks around before making the sweaty trek back across the bay.

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I got back in time to relax for a minute, then met my coworkers for the next few days.

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We all took a quick tour of the boat to learn where various events and checkpoints would be, then got to the business of putting together swag bags and badges.

Reported for duty! #cssdevconf

That night was a little happy hour gathering for early attendees. There were special tours going on, and I tried to listen as best as I could but the group was large and the guide could only project so much.

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There’s a cabinet in this locked diorama of the captain’s quarters that opens itself every now and then. Is the captain still wandering around the ship, looking for something? OoooooOOOooOh!

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Bear with me on this one, but the first dark photo above is the only photo I got where something spooky might be happening. It was the room where the captain’s assistant or other help usually stayed. See the orbs around the window? In the photo before (not pictured) and after (the second dark photo here), those orbs aren’t there. OooOoooOoooOOOh x 2!

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Donia, another volunteer, and I became fast friends during the event. I wish Minneapolis and Chicago were closer so we could actually hang out in real life!

The conference started up for real the next day. I think I slept a lot better that night; it had been a long (though quite fun) day!