The following days were spent moving from place to place with a morning landing and afternoon landing. During the evening the next day’s itinerary would be handed out and even before the ink was dry the weather, ice, or other events made that itinerary obsolete. So the day’s events were always a surprise and even then it was subject to change. During this trip we not only got to see amazing scenery and get up close and personal with the wildlife, we had the opportunity to interact with our own species that lived and worked in Antarctica. As fascinating as the days were, viewing this land without form or expression (yet with a primitive beauty), with wildlife
who showed little concern at our presence, what was more fascinating were the people who lived and worked in this inhospitable environment.
Our first encounter with the human species was at the Vernadsky Research Station. This Station was home to about 20 men (from the Ukraine) who were very happy to us because we were the first group to visit their station after many months of “Wintering Over” isolation. The Vernadsky Station and the area it is located has the honor of having reached the coldest temperature in the world. The base reminded me of the ultimate bachelor pad – kinda dirty, unkempt, pictures of seminaked women hanging on the walls, Playboy magazines by the toilet, and their food locker was
full of ramen noodles. The best thing about this station was the Faraday Bar (the most southern bar in the world) on the second floor which served their house special of homemade vodka. The vodka was bad but it did not stop us from enjoying a few hours at their bar. After making new friends and the ladies from our boat leaving a few bras for the Faraday Bar collection, we were off to further explore Antarctica.
Later that day we landed on Petermann Island and met a research team from Oceanities comprised of two very attractive American ladies and two males (one researcher and one National Geographic filmmaker). This team (one month into a four-month tour) was on the
island to research Adelie and Gentoo penguins. Sleeping in tents on the ice, eating canned food, and taking cold showers had taken a toll on the team and by time we arrived they were looking kinda haggard and readily accepted the captain’s invitation for a hot shower and to join us the on ship’s deck for a Thanksgiving Day barbeque. As we sailed around Antarctica I visited old research and whaling stations and what was amazing was that each one was like a time capsule. When you entered one it was like stepping back in time back to the early 1900s because each one of them (when there were abandoned or closed) had been left as is with all its supplies, equipment, food, and reading materials. Many of these sites are now historical sites and the job of maintaining these sites comes under the staff at Port Lockroy.