Well guys, we've now been home for a few days, and this will be my final blog entry. I hope that you enjoyed following along with us as we journeyed through the rich waters and icy landscapes of Antarctica. I know for Jason and I that having so many of you following this blog from back home gave us a structured feel to our days, and knowing that you all were following gave us comfort for being so far away from anything we've ever known before. To prepare y'all, this entry will be a little different as I will vary from the more typical story form used previously. No one really wants to know about the airport and traveling back, that's why so many people take drugs on airplanes...to sleep through it!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tonight, I'm writing from a very different world. A container ship is alongside, and trucks and forklifts go back and forth along the pier. The city of Ushuaia splays up the mountainside, and the city lights shine in the delayed dusk.
The Post Office.
The base itself is only operates in the summer because the entire area is inaccessible in the colder months due to ice, but even during the summer, the members of the base have a very hard time traveling around. It's not that the walking here is much harder than other places on the Peninsula. It's more that they possess no boats or vessels of any kind. Everywhere they go must be on foot, and it's on an island. As I heard it explained, it is a matter of keeping the base small and inexpensive. If they had one boat, they'd have to have a back-up boat. If they had more than one boat, they'd have to have a technician to maintain and fix them. If they had more staff they'd have to have a doctor. With all the new personnel, they'd have to build extra lodging quarters, and then more personnel to build and maintain those. And it goes on and on... What I can't figure out is if they currently operate without a boat, why they couldn't operate it without a back-up boat? If the first one broke, then they'd be back to status quo until next season right?
Penguin on the menu?
Anyone have a can opener?
Standard issue back in the day.
Do these penguins speak with a British accent?
Out on the ice.
The National Geographic Explorer.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home! Our Thanksgiving has been anything but conventional, but I have even more than usual to be thankful for.
Killer whales seal hunting.
Believe it or not, this was the only sign with Antarctica on it on the whole trip!
We were very at home in Zodiacs.
An Antarctic sunset.
Alright guys, one more day until Thanksgiving! This morning we anchored the ship in a place called Neko Harbor, which is named after an early twentieth century Belgian whaling vessel. Our group was able to take zodiacs around the area to examine all of the floating pieces of ice and look for wildlife among them. We were able to find numerous groups of Gentoo penguins porpoising through the water looking for fish and a few birds perched on ice bergs, but unfortunately no seals. The harbor itself was simply breathtaking though! Glaciers covered the mountains around the harbor and some of the vistas looked too perfect to be real; it was like a dream!
Overlooking the glacier.
The Harbor at King George Island.
The Chilean Station.
Hello from "Russia"!
A typical building at the Russian station.
The southernmost Russian Orthodox Church in the world.
The inside of the church, beautiful.
An iceberg in Half Moon Bay.
The view from the penguins' doorstep.
Antarctica, the seventh continent. Well, actually, it's my fifth, but most people call it the seventh. It's also called the white continent, and I think I know why. It's also known as the highest, driest, coldest, windiest, and loneliest continent.
Tabular ice berg in Antarctic Sound.
Adelies at Brown Bluff.
We made it to Antarctica!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Well, this morning we woke up not knowing where we'd be. There are storms brewing between us and Antarctica, and we are in for a fairly rough crossing, or so we're told... The ship will spend the next two days zig-zagging between storms in an attempt to find the calmest crossing possible. As a result, we weren't sure when we woke up whether we'd still be in SGI or already on the move to beat the storms.
Fin Whales and Blue Whale.