Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cooling Off with More Memories of Antarctica

When it's been 92 degrees out for the past few weeks in Chicago, with absolutely no sign of the heat letting up, what better way to cool down than to write another installment about my Antarctica trip, complete with pictures of huge icebergs?

For those of you who haven't been reading this site for that long, you can catch up on the past entries about my Antarctica trip with National Geographic in November 2007 here.

We last left off on November 24th. The ship was moving south again and on its way to Useful Island. The very cool thing that happened on the way was that a pod of about ten killer whales started swimming in formation around the boat. At one point they even swam straight at the ship, under it and then continued out the other side. There were a few calves with them, which could be identified by yellow/orangeish patches on their eye area, rather than the white patches we're all more familiar with.

Here's one picture of an adult killer whale by itself, and then a wider shot of a few of them swimming away from the boat.

Then it was time to disembark the ship for more exploring. They have a very organized process of getting everyone on their way... they'll call certain floors, or even vs. odd cabin numbers, etc., to have everyone line up in order rather than jostle for first position. They will check all of your gear in a little holding room as the Zodiac in front of you leaves, and then you just wait on this small platform by an open door to climb into the next raft (it is pretty bouncy, so they have two guys grab your arms and lead you to your seat. Here is one Zodiac leaving, and then me waiting anxiously for my turn in the shadows on the right.

The crazy thing, as you can see from the pictures above, is that you're just sitting on the edge of this inflatable Zodiac, and you only have a rope that is BEHIND you to hang onto. I seriously am still amazed that I did not fall overboard backwards, because I have NO balancing skillz and am totally clumsy. There were a few times when we would hit a wave where I thought I was a goner. To add to the fun, the wind can get pretty vicious as you are motoring toward land, so I usually looked like Michael Jackson while on the Zodiac.

Once we made it to Useful Island, we were of course greeted by more penguins chasing each other around.

My husband and I then followed one of the naturalists up to the tippy-top of this small mountain to have a look out at the bay. The reason I look unhappy in the picture below is that I am actually standing on a very narrow ledge... all that snow to the left is just covering a huge cliff. Once again, since I am clumsy, I was positive that I was going to fall off.

But we made it up there alive and stood by a few stray penguins taking in the view. It's a rockier area so it's not quite as pretty as the other places we visited, but it gives you a sense of how different the landscapes can be across the region. See how small some of our fellow passengers are down there by the shore?

We bid adieu to Useful Island and pulled up anchor once again. The next day of the trip was probably my favorite... it was brilliantly sunny out and we actually kayaked around a calm harbor. But until that post, here are two stunning pictures of ice--one of a massive iceberg that floated by, and the other of an "extreme ice close-up."

Ahh, I feel cooler already.

- e


Anonymous said...


Wow - that is just amazing.

Funny how all the glaciers look photoshopped into the picture. It must look even more incredible in person.

The Other E

Anonymous said...

That last photo is amazing!

Anonymous said...


Mellis said...

Amazing photos! What a great trip. Did you get to do any Ernest Shackleton stuff?

Mellis said...
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