Antarctica 2008 travel blog

That's our ship viewed from the shore through the snow

This is our landing site, and that's a penguin waddling up the...

Paradise Harbor (Chilean Air Force base) viewed from our ship

One of the zodiacs threading through the ice

This is what I menat about the receeding tide leaving chunks of...

Here's a glimpse of blue ice

Wandering along...

Another of the zodiacs making its way through the ice in the...

I was too slow to catch him swimming

This guy was swimming and leaping out of the water

More of the ice in the bay. Isn't it surreal?

Here's a better idea what we all looked like in the zodiacs.

He was just hanging out and totally unfazed when our driver took...

We had a blast last night. I finally gave up and crashed at about 2am. We've now dubbed Gemma "Cookie", since she tossed hers last night.

All-in-all, most of us held up pretty well despite the late night. Our Zodiac slot for today was in the morning, so we had to be kitted out and ready to go by 9:20. Our zodiac driver is a guy named Kevin, who looks rather like a Viking. (I keep wanting to call him "Eric the Red".) I guess it's not too surprising that when he's not working in Antarctica, he's leading polar bear tours above the arctic circle in Canada. He steered us slowly through the bergs in the bay and asked everyone to hold on, because if they become top-heavy, they can roll without warning. Nothing major to be concerned about!

This landing was at a Chilean base on Paradise Harbor, so we even had a chance to buy stuff from their gift shop. - Who knew there was an actual gift shop in Antarctica (as opposed to on the cruise ship)??

The biggest rule for visiting Antarctica is that you're to leave it as you found it, so you're not to take or leave anything, even as small as a Kleenex. So when you land at the base, they give you a brochure which gives both information and rules. Of course, wearing the big ski mittens made it terribly hard to hold on to, and the wind blew mine right into the mud. That meant that I had no choice but to pick it up, resulting in a muddy glove that I couldn't wear, because the mud is generally contaminated with penguin poo. VERY nice!

Did I mention that most of the Chilean men on the base were hot? Seriously! I wasn't the only one who noticed. One of them started snickering every time I saw him, because he was the one I happend to ask what to do with my poo-covered brochure. Rebecca had her phot taken with him, so I'll try to post that.

We got to wander around in areas which flood during high tide. When the tide washes out, it leaves huge chunks of ice all over the ground, so it has a surreal look about it. We saw new chicks sheltering under and being fed by their parents. We also saw penguins bringing stones for the nest to their partner as a gift. It was pretty cute to watch. Did you know that penguin eggs are light on the outside and sort of an olive green on the inside. Also, penguin poo is pink rather than dark, because their diet ismostly crill, which is something in the family of prawns or crawfish.

So, we ended 2007 with a landing in Antarctica, and began 2008 the same way. Pretty darn cool!!

My favorite in-box comment so far was from Liz, who was surprised to hear that a penguin colony could smell so much like Newark. -- I'm not quite sure which group should be more offended. :)

Since we had a late night before and a 6:20 staging time in the morning, Holly, Gemma and I decided to skip our 8:30 seating in the dining room and have an early dinner of room service in our cabin, so we could crash early. It was actually one of the best BLTs (hold the T & mayo) that I've ever had.

After dinner we decided to venture all the way up to the top of the ship for a dip in the hot tub. It was really cold and windy outside, so even though we'd run upstairs with sweats & coats over our suits, we were FREEZING while stipping all of that off, only to discover that we were in danger of our clothes & shoes blowing away. We ended up each stuffing them into gaps in stacks of sun chairs. It was actually pretty nice once we made it into the hot tub, and I think it actually dropped a few snowflakes on us.

Once we hit the prune stage and started getting colder, we decided that since the gym was directly under us, the perfect finish would be a quick sauna. So, learning our lesson from un-dressing, we just wrapped up in our beach towels, grabbed our stuff and made a mad dash down the stairs and around to the gym so we could get inside as quickly as possible. For some inconceivable reason, the knuckleheads turn off the sauna at 8pm even though they know people are still using the hot tubs. We were very cold and disappointed, but at least we got to dry off in the warm locker room. I think we were in bed by 9pm or so.

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