The Quest
Volume 3 Book 7 Part 2 of
Living in the Bonus Round

Steve Schalchlin, Jim Brochu in Panama.
Steve & Jim in Panama.

[ Book 3-6 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]
[ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ] [ Pt 15 ] [ Pt 16 ]

January 12 - 13, 2004.
Panama Canal Photo Album.
Monday night I went to the rehearsal of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, one of the most celebrated choral ensembles in the world. It was an "open call" rehearsal for prospective members, so anyone who showed up was given a chair and sheet music, and invited to sing along. I loved the room. It was at the Immanuel Episcopal Church in Hollywood in a basement performance hall. The piano was in the center of the room with hundreds of men all seated around the piano in an arc. I was sitting next to my friend, David Peterson (who sang with me at the Joyful Lamentation this past December -- David has this magnificent tenor voice).

Just to be in the same room listening to these voices was a thrill, especially knowing that next month they are going to include "When You Care" in their Spring program. Unfortunately, I'm going to be in Chicago so I won't be able to attend the concert and hear it.

I did, however, bring a CD of several of the new demos I cut at Kim & Ronda's so that David could hear the new material. I also met the artistic director Dr. Bruce Mayhall and thanked him for singing "When You Care." Unfortunately, the arranger hadn't finished the arrangement yet so I wasn't able to hear what they were going to do on it yet. (This particular concert is going to focus on L.A.-based writers and/or performers).

I told Dr. Mayhall that I had been busily writing a piece with the GMCLA in mind -- and that are targeted date would be the Christmas Holiday season of 2004. Since I'm leaving for Indianapolis next week, we scheduled a meeting for the end of February.

This process of writing always amazes me. Jimmy and I sit in a room, blank sheets of paper in front of our faces, and the next thing you know people are singing or performing what we've written. It's just the best feeling in the world.

When I told our new agent, Jim D., about the new material, his response was to laugh and to make a remark about how I never stop. Reminded me of an article I read about Stevie Wonder in the recording studio. The sound engineers were working on something in the booth when suddenly Stevie began singing and writing something new on the spot. They shouted, "Stop him! He's writing a new song! Never mind. It's too late. Just roll the tape..."

The first big event on our cruise was going through the Panama Canal. I got out early in the morning when the sky was still foggy, the humidity so thick it suffocated you like a wet blanket thrown in your face. I turned my camera on and got instant fog on the lens.

So, the Panama Canal was something I didn't know that much about. I wasn't sure what I was expecting. I guess I thought it would be a long trench with a bunch of locks but actually it only has six locks. Three on the Atlantic side and three on the Pacific side. The whole thing works by gravity. There are no pumps of any kind.

Approaching the first lock we passed by the place where the French tried to dig:

Panama Canal
This is the cut the French started but abandoned.

Panama CanalBeautiful girls in the Panama Canal.
A big tree in the dense forest. Two beautiful girls from the health spa.

Panama Canal
Approaching the first locks on the Atlantic side of the canal.

Panama Canal
Close-up of above shot. Notice how high the ship is on the right side.
It's two levels up. The canal lifts boats up to the lake.

The genius of the Panama Canal is that it depends on a huge manmade lake that sits high above sea level. The locks are filled by water from that lake. Then the ships are lifted to the next level, until finally they make it up to the lake. Because of all the rainfall, the lake always has enough water to feed into the locks.

Panama Canal
Here were are pointing as we approach the canal.

Panama CanalPanama Canal
Approaching the lock, a little arrow on the jetty tells the ship which way to go.
They started us one way and then switched. We barely made it!

Panama CanalPanama Canal
Notice in the right pic how the water starts to flow out of the lock.
The doors don't open until the water is level with us.

Panama CanalPanama Canal
After the water drains out, the gates open inward.

Panama Canal
Looking backwards at where we've been.

Panama Canal
Our ship is pulled along by this little train.
I guess in the old days they used mules.

Panama CanalPanama CanalPanama Canal
The doors close behind us and then the water fills up again, raising us up.

Panama Canal
This is a great look at the ocean, looking down two levels.

Panama Canal
After we've been raised twice, we sail out onto the lake.

Panama Canal
A sign of where we are.

Panama Canal
Farther down the canal we ford the narrowest part.
Only one ship at a time can get through.

At the other end, we found three locks that let us back down to sea level and then out to the Pacific Ocean. All in all, the trip took only a few hours. But what a spectacular trip! And what a genius solution to the canal, to use the higher level of the interior water to provide the water pressure on both ends using only the power of gravity.

Meanwhile, on the ship, I'm still waking up earlier and earlier. New music is pouring out of me and then I get a great idea...


[ Book 3-6 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ][ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]
[ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ] [ Pt 15 ] [ Pt 16 ]

© 1996-2004 by Steve Schalchlin.
You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.