It's almost impossible to describe Antarctica. The one word that stands out is simply incredible. Each day was a fantastic journey and I'm extremely happy that I made the decision to come.
I've been joking to folks that I've met along the way in my travels that I'm doing this all backwards. My first trip truly abroad to South America and Antarctica instead of Europe. My first cruise to Antarctica instead of the Caribbean. It will be hard to top this experience. In the near(ish) future, I plan to visit the Arctic to see more ice and the polar bears.
Speaking of the northern latitudes, I want to road trip this year to see the Northern Lights again - it's been way too long. If you haven't heard, it's supposed to be a very active year for solar activity. If anyone else is game, let me know, perhaps a quick trip up to Canada (or maybe even northern MN) is in order.
Back to Antarctica, my mind keeps contemplating the early explorers, on ships to parts unknown and seeing these sights for the first time without maps or modern technology. Same with the pioneers who settled the US. People centuries ago took great risks. Today, we live relatively safe lives. No wonder there are such occurrences of anxiety and depression these days.
This is the year I turned over a new leaf. I will be adding more adventure to my life. As I write this entry, out my window is a large glacier wall and they just announced a whale sighting close to the ship. I think this is a pretty good start to my new lease on life. I'm trying to soak in the memories for a later time.
One memorable night we had a barbeque outside on deck at sunset. While we ate, two whales circled around the ship.
We were also able to cross the Antarctic Circle and make a stop there. Sometimes conditions prevent a landing, but we were very lucky. We've had a good amount of luck on this trip according to the crew - the seas have been fairly calm, we had sunshine the first few days, and we saw all kinds of unusual animal interactions.
I've seen four different species of penguin. Several individual penguins in the gentoo family have come up to nibble at my boots and pants. I saw another fellow traveler laying on the ground taking pictures while a couple of gentoos jumped right on top of her. They're very cute and inquisitive. Apparently some deranged woman on another trip tried to sneak a penguin home with her, getting as far as catching one. Not entirely sure what the staff did with her after that...
Our last hurrah was a landing on (in) Deception Island. Initially we had to pass by this stop on the way down the Antarctic Peninsula due to unfavorable weather conditions. The crew really wanted us to see it, so they made it our last stop before heading back to South America. Deception Island is actually an active volcano that has blown its top off and seawater has filled the inside of the crater. There is one narrow passage that the ship was able to pass through. We spent quite a bit of time ashore inside the volcano, climbing to see the sights, walking along the beach that is actually steaming due to the heat from the volcano. My roommate and I got charged by a very large fur seal twice. We were pre-instructed to act tough and tell the seal to stop, which we did plus some other choice words until the seal got confused and backed off. It finally dawned on me that my hat has some brown faux fur lining that may have lead the seal to think that I was a seal, so I promptly removed it.
After this Antarctic cruise, just one more stop in Mendoza Argentina, and then I'll be heading for home. I will have more pics and videos once I get home and get through all of it. Here are some photos for the time being:
First Iceberg Sighting
First Land Sighting
First Penguin Sighting (they´re coming back from feeding)
A Pair of Adult Gentoo Penguins
A Baby Gentoo Penguin
Baby Chasing Momma for a Meal
Momma Feeding Baby
Seems this Penguin is Still Hungry
Another Baby Checking Me Out
Chinstrap Penguins Sunbathing
The Lone Macaroni Penguin - Can You Spot His Yellow Head?
One Brave Adelie Penguin Coming Up to Investigate Us
Seal Claiming the Iceberg
Seal Air Drying After a Swim
Seal Out at Sea Taking a Breather
Killer Whale Pod (though technically this particular breed is part of the broader dolphin family)
Humpback Whale Tail
One of Many Icebergs
Surrounded by Icebergs
Not a Bad View from the Top
Beautiful Skies --
Water Like Glass
Sign of Rougher Weather Ahead
Spectacular Antarctic Sunset
Polar Crossing Celebration --
My Roommate and I Ventured out on Deck
Heat Venting Out the Top of the Hill
Two Lovely Ladies Enjoying a Stroll on Top of an Active Volcano
More Heat Venting from the Shoreline