Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Of Overlooks and Kayaks (Nov. 23)

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!  

Neko Harbor.

When our zodiac cruise ended, we landed where the rest of the ship's company were at the Gentoo colony.  Nothing against the Gentoos (except for the fact that they smelled horrible!), but the real highlight of the morning was walking up the steep, snow covered hill to overlook the bay!  The hill really tempted me to slide down, but they warned us against it at this particular of the ship's crew brought his snowboard and went down the hill that way!  We hung out at the top of the hill overlooking the colony, the mountains and the glaciers, waiting for ice to calve in spectacular fashion.  

Overlooking the glacier.

Not much ice fell, but we were rewarded with a particularly odd sight.  Four penguins decided to walk up the hill and join us.  Penguins seem to be very curious and often hair-brained.   It was simply as if they said, "I wonder what's up there," and just kept walking.  I don't know what was in their heads.  It's like they wondered what those funny colored penguins were doing up there and didn't want to miss anything.  Our resident ornithologist has told us repeatedly he doesn't think penguins are the brightest birds in the world.  I'm starting to understand why, but they're still funny, awkward, and pretty lovable.  

Silly penguins!

We're spending the afternoon in Paradise Harbor.  Which if you like ice, then I suppose this fits the bill pretty well.  Similar to most of the places that we've been, this is yet again surrounded by glaciers, mountains, and filled with icebergs.  I'm not complaining in the least! I'm just trying to convey how much of this place is absolutely covered in glaciers and mountains!  It's mind boggling!  
This afternoon there was no stepping ashore, but we did get to paddle around the harbor in kayaks, which was more exciting for the trouble of it rather than the kayaking itself!  The scene was gorgeous, but the ice kept closing in on us until the point that we got stuck in a small open hole surrounded by brash ice and larger icebergs...  As this was happening to everyone, they picked up all the kayakers and took us back to the ship.  
And as I just found out, our expedition leader, Lisa, and the geologist, Jason, are getting married today.  Best wishes to you both, and may you have a very happy marriage! Congratulations!

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