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Antarctica Trip: Ten Things Antarctica Taught Me
Antarctica reminds us just how fun snow can be!
Two weeks in Antarctica with two cherished friends and fellow Adventure Lifers, Julia and Renee; this incredible tour had surprises around every corner. This trip reconfirmed everything I love about travel ... and taught me a thing or two, or ten.
1. I have a knack for missing the whale-sightings.
Not once, but twice, I missed a close encounter with humpback whales. As my zodiac was taking me to shore, a humpback visited others right outside the ship's gangway. And the kayakers where greeted with a humpback and her calf as they made their way around Half Moon, our last day on the continent. But don't feel too bad for me, as we approached …
2. Why Icebergs are Blue
The short answer is it has to do with the the light spectrum, and the way light is filtered through the ice. The thicker the ice, the more blue-green color it displays. Regardless of what our on board geologist, Wolfgang, might suggest, the blue color IS NOT a result of reflecting light off the blue eyes of the rare Antarctic ice worms... Oh, …
3. Deception Island is deceiving.
Volcanic activity -- BAH! Don't let that steam rising off of the shoreline fool you; the polar plunge was as freezing as it was fun! I suppose, however, that large floating pieces of ice in the bay should have been a clue that we were in for a chilly dip.
Our ship, the Lyubov Orlova, is named after a famous Russian actress. It is a tightly-run ship with passionate crew. Our daily agendas (which showed up in our cabins each night like clock-work) included a "Russian word of the day." I did an excellent job butchering the language, but returned home with Spasiba (thank you), Zdravstvuite …
5. Penguins provide complimentary wake-up calls.
When we were camping at Paradise Bay, the curious penguins decided to visit us at all hours of the night -- literally right outside the tent -- and practice their best squawk. Other visitors that night included a friendly sheathbill who thought our tent was the perfect place to perch. Our tent had the poop to prove it.
6. It's a small world.
One of our expedition staff grew up in Owatonna, MN - just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from my hometown. And, as we boarded the ship, Renee was reunited with a former professor!
7. Valdimir has spent over a year in the Drake Passage.
A member of our expedition team, Russian born Valdimir has taken over 120 expeditions to Antarctica (each that included roughly 4 days in the Drake). Needless to say, we were in very capable and experienced hands.
8. Sea Kayakers have horseshoes up their ...
Both Julia and Renee and eight other passengers went sea kayaking during our trip -- and at least one of them was able to bring a lucky charm through customs. In one afternoon, the kayakers had up-close encounters with a humpback whale and her calf, a leopard seal, watched an iceberg break in two, and dodged a compression wave.
9. I have an inner-birder.
And Antarctica brought it enthusiastically to the surface. Here's just a few of the species I can add to my developing bird-log: Magellanic Woodpecker (spotted during our hike in Tierra del Fuego before we embarked), black-browed albratross, giant petrel, Antarctica shag, snowy sheathbill, Antarctic tern, South Polar skua and Gentoo, Adelie and …
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