First thing this morning, our boat stops off at one of the research stations down here, Palmer Station, and picks up a number of its staff to spend the day with us visiting other stations in the "neighborhood". Palmer Station is the largest U.S. station on the peninsula, and we are also visiting Port Lockroy, a British installation that is the home of the Antarctic Heritage Foundation and Vernadsky Station, which is a scientific station formerly manned by the Brits and now by Ukranians.
So, the first stop after breakfast is Port Lockroy. This is where our postcards will be mailed (will be interesting to see just how long it takes for them to make it to the US). At one point, this was a whaling station and there are whale bones scattered around the beach. There is a colony of gentoo penguins here, and in addition, some nesting blue eyed shags (also known as arctic cormorants). It's a sunny day, and we initially were hoping to have an opportunity for kayaking, but the wind is up, so this will have to be postponed for another day.
After lunch, we head back up the Lemaire Channel again, heading for Vernadsky Station. I decide to take the opportunity to get in a little treadmill time since I saw the channel last night, but since it is still stunningly scenic in the middle of the day, I keep hopping off to run out on the deck to take a few more pictures, not the most consistent workout routine. When we arrive at Vernadsky, we first go for a zodiac cruise around the bay. Now I know you're going to think I've flipped out, but the highlight was seeing this really interesting moss growing on the side of one of the cliffs - it is about a hundred years old, according to our naturalist. Maybe it's because so little vegetation grows down here, so we're starved for a sight of something that isn't white, black or blue, but it looks really beautiful to us.
Next up is our stop at the station itself. Maybe I was expecting a little bit more from a scientific mission, but the primary thing I learned was that the 14 Ukrainian men stationed there are really lonely for female company - didn't get much information about any of the scientific research going on. Jennifer partakes of a shot of homemade vodka at the bar with a chaser of an orange dipped in sugar, then coffee grounds. Me, I decide to wait for happy hour back on the boat.