The travel day to get back to work really sucks, you know? Sleep deprivation, physical and mental adjustment to the situation, etc... I rolled out of bed at 1230am yesterday, not-so-refreshed after about 30-45 minutes of sleep, and 20 minutes later, I was on the road.
Overnight travel is definitely the way to go, especially when, like me, it's necessary to travel southbound along the northeast corridor. My rule of thumb is that its' best to get through NY and eastern NJ before 5am. After that, it gets gnarly... my ride home, for instance, always occurs in daylight, and usually takes 2 hours longer, because NY and Connecticut is full of assholes who don't know how to drive. Assholes need sleep too, so I try to keep the pain to a minimum by travelling with the late-night set where possible.
Anyhow, yesterday was a hurry up and wait situation. I set the land-speed record to get down here early, called the dispatcher to get a ride from the docks to my unit, which was in Camden NJ (about 30 minutes upriver), and was told that a tugboat would dock in one hour, and to get my stuff on board, and they'd take me at 10 am to Camden.
It being 7am at the time, I was a little bummed. At 1130am, we made it off the dock. At this point, my groceries were getting nice and toasty out on deck on the tug, after a prolonged wait.
Anyhow, I was kind of pissed off. Considering that it takes a crew of 6 to man the tug, that the tug has two 2200hp engines that burn a lot of fuel even in 30 minutes, and that I'm only one person, I understand that it's awful expensive to use a 120-foot boat as a taxi. Even so, it took the wind out of my sails, because hey, it's time to work.
We arrived alongside my barge at about noon. The guy I was due to relieve met us and gave me a helping hand to move my groceries on board, then he jumped on the tug and I jumped off, there to run my groceries into the freezer. Once that was done, I threw on work clothes, and 6 minutes after I first stepped on board, I relieved the guy on deck and took the watch.
By 4pm I was finished, literally. The job was done, the paperwork, too, and I was beat to hell. The massive dose of caffeine that kept me alertish through the 6-hour drive, 4 hour wait and 4 hours of work, had long since departed... and here's where things get iffy.
I am stuck on board with a total stranger. I share this 15x15 office/bathroom/bunkroom with a stranger. This is not comfortable, obviously. When I took the watch, the guy went to bed. By 4pm, he was long asleep, and I didn't feel like waking him up by barging into the room to fish out sheets and such and make up my bunk, so I tried to wait him out.
By 10pm I looked like this.
I had let the guy sleep for like 9 hours, and no longer was feeling polite. After 2 days without more than a polite nod towards sleep, I walked in and made my bed. Of course, the guy woke up. I think. I was half asleep when I made up the bed, and I fell asleep before I could get my head on the pillow. I'm not kidding. I woke up at 3am with the pillow under one arm still.
Anyhow, 10 hours later, I'm feeling a mite better.