Tag Archives: Antarctica

Cape Horn

We were fortunate to be making such good time on the way back, that we diverted over to Cape Horn. Cape Horn is at the very tip of South America.

In 1904, 400 to 500 ships came around Cape Horn, 12 were lost. In that time the sun was needed in order to navigate, however, the sun wasn’t present a lot of the times. As a result, ships would turn too soon and run into Cape Horn. 50 limped in for repair and 12 turned around and went the other way.

In 1914, the Panama Canal opened and and ships took this shortcut instead of rounding the Cape.

For sailors, they could put one up on the table if they had rounded Cape Horn, and two if they had been to both polar regions.


New Year’s at Sea!

Throughout the day, we celebrated as the various nationalities came into the New Year.

We were on Argentine time down in Antarctica.

We celebrated with various parties, including an “Embrace the Bizarre” costume party. My roommate and I were “The Tall and Short of it.” We switched clothes and it was rather hilarious.

The best part of the day though was the sunset. There has never been a better sunset though. With the clouds and the sun barely dipping below the horizon, it continued for forever… It will be a New Year’s to remember that’s for sure!


“My Antarctica Honeymoon” – Jenny Darlington

“Take the Rockies, The Alps and Mount Washington. Cover them with thick crusted snow that, like frosting spread by a giant’s hand has spilled down over the land to end in a jagged, uneven border where it meets the sea.

Imagine yourself on a spaceship in another world. A world that for ten million years has been locked away behind ramparts of ice, where escape is blocked in all directions by a cruel, cold, ocean.

Take all the adjectives in Mr. Roget’s Thesaurus and you still haven’t got it. For nothing, not even Mr. Roget’s best can convey one’s first impression of that vast, mysterious immensity of ice.

It is a less in humility, an unforgettable reminder of man’s mortality, and it is like no other place on earth.”

From “My Antarctic Honeymoon” by Jenny Darlington, one of the first two women to over winter in Antarctica 1947-1948,

Running on the Ocean

Have you ever ran on water? I have!

It was quite interesting running on a treadmill while crossing the Drake Passage. I was just grateful that the “arms” of the treadmill extended for its length as I definitely had to grab on to them a couple of times!

This warning was posted on the entrance to the gym:


The People You Meet

For a trip to Antarctica, the travelers are well-traveled travelers. One of the best and most fun parts of my experiences was talking to people and seeing where they have been and where they wanted to go next. It was a great way to get advice for future trips as well!

For a good number of this, this was Continent #7. It was actually kind of funny for those that it wasn’t as most would assume that Antarctica is the hardest and most expensive to get to.

One of the best parts about having these well-traveled travelers was that there weren’t competitive conversations. It was a real and genuine interest in what people had to say about their experiences in other places and typically someone else would chime in with their experience at that same place. But again not in a competitive manner but in a teaching and expanding one’s knowledge manner. I got a lot of ideas for some of my upcoming trips (I’m always planning about 10 if not more…).

This may sound silly but I typically don’t bring up my extensive travel resume when talking to other travelers. Instead I like to just listen to what they have to say. You have travel braggers who tend to not actually have a lot to brag about, perhaps they’ve been on one trip and now they think they know how the world works. There are also those that have now been on one trip and can’t believe how the world has opened up to them. They are beginning to plan the next trip and can’t believe that they waited this long to travel. These are fun people to talk to as you can just see the excitement growing within them. They are also the ones who will ask questions and probe deeper.

I find that the more I travel, the more humble I become. Perhaps it’s the experiences that I have and the fact that I tend to leave with more questions than answers upon departing. It’s easy to spot the actual travelers though, the way they present their travels is done in a way that is almost a part of their being rather than a sharing of their exploits.

Traveling alone allows one to meet more people I feel. It’s less threatening than a twosome or more. On this trip I had some unique experiences that I don’t feel would have been the same with a partner, not that I don’t look forward to traveling with my S.O., friends, and family in the future.

At dinner at an Argentine steakhouse, an older couple asked me if I was eating alone. I said yes and we engaged in conversation throughout our respective meals, including sharing a plate of creamed spinach.

In an Irish pub in Ushuaia, I spoke with an Argentinian who had just began to travel. I was so excited for him. We sat and chatted for a long time. I can’t even say until dark as it was still light out when I walked out of the pub at a late hour.

In Scotland, more than a decade ago, I chatted in Spanish with a couple of Spaniards out on Lochness. It was the most unique experience for me and was actually one of those eye-opening experiences where I realized that traveling could take me anywhere, including to the middle of the lake and a Spanish conversation.

In Spain, I was on an run when an older man, noticing my height, asked me about basketball. He was very proud of Pau Gasol, a Spaniard is in the NBA. We sat on a bench in a park for a good half hour discussing life and basketball. This was another eye-opening traveling experience for me.

A couple of years ago, I was on a trip with a person who said that they didn’t want to travel until they have a partner so that they could experience it with them. I laughed. Why wait? And why depend on others? If you want to see the world and have it open itself to you, go! Now!

Traveling and Trump…

So… the election… and now the presidency… As soon as the current U.S. president was elected, I anticipated it as a conversation topic while traveling. And it was…

There were a slight minority of U.S. travelers on my trip as we were outnumbered by Aussies. There were a good number of Canadians as well, with some Europeans and a dozen or so Chinese.

The election of this unique personality, who I have a not safe for print nickname, is a worldwide concern. I’m not sure if Americans understand this completely.

I’ve had discussions on trips about GW Bush and Obama. The thoughts were that GW was a surprise for reelection. Obama was a welcome figure for the international community. This newest figure, whose name I can’t even utter other than in the title, is an embarrassment for the U.S. The only thing I could say to my fellow human beings  on this trip was that he didn’t receive the popular vote…

One of the many bright sides of the trip was a break from political drama in the U.S. While I did read the daily New York Times International Bulletin that was printed out for us, with basic summaries of important happening including the death of Princess Leia and her mother, I more or less disconnected from everything else, refusing to pay an absurd amount for internet that I didn’t need. So essentially it was a 2 week vacation without internet, the best thing a person could ever ask for!


Volcanoes in Antarctica

We were fortunate to have a Geologist on board who shared information with us about volcanoes on Antarctica.

He especially endeared himself to me at least when he made a Sheldon Cooper joke about how he knows Sheldon wouldn’t like him. To see one of Sheldon Cooper’s comments about geologists, click here.

There are 25 volcanoes in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Islands, mainly on the Pacific Ocean side.

Mt. Erebus, overlooking McMurdo Station (the largest U.S. base located on Ross Island), is the biggest and most southern volcano.

Last March, Zavodovski started erupting. There were 690,000 breeding penguin pairs and some were molting at the time so couldn’t get away when the ash started falling on them. More info here.