Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Heading home .................

I'm at Buenos Aires, Argentina airport tonight........on my way home!
Disembarked the ship in Ushuaia this morning after a very rough crossing through the Drake Passage.
Plenty to share with you once settled again.
Amazing stories of places known and unknown at the 'end of the world'.
Awesome - well I think they are - photos of beautiful animals, birds, historic places, and Nature's breathtaking icy architecture.

I missed being able to blog.  See you soon.

Edited:  Apologies to the several friends who left lovely comments on this post yesterday. I worked on it at the airport in Miami early yesterday while awaiting my connection to Raleigh.  Unfortunately, when trying to post the comments, something technical occurred and they were deleted instead! Just want you to know I did see them, thank you for your interest and promise to be in touch with everyone soon. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My ship is OK!

Don't worry - I'm not on the Antarctic ship which encountered the problem with the rogue wave!
Tonight we're crossing the Southern Ocean on the way to amazing South Georgia Island and the sea is quite delightful!

Just enjoyed dinner this evening (Wednesday) as a guest at the captain's table. So far the adventure has been wonderful. Loved the time spent on the Falkland Islands. Thousands of Rockhopper penguins with chicks - sadly can't post many pics right now, Internet slow and sporadic in this remote place - will show you more later!

 Rockhopper Penguin chicks - Falkland Islands

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Garden birds or Penguins?

I will miss my garden birds while away. The Wrens 
arriving to sleep in the hanging baskets on the front porch 
these cold Winter nights......the bright red Cardinals 
singing in the privet bushes out back.......the Towhees 
foraging in the piles of crisp brown oak leaves.
However, other amazing birds will surely take their place.

King penguins - on Macquarie Island, Australia 
November 2011 trip to the sub-Antarctic Islands.

The Kings were beautiful birds and I so enjoyed 
spending time watching them enjoy the water and 
stroll the beach where I took the above photos.

Emperor penguins - photo via Wikipedia

The upside of missing "my birds" in the garden, 
is that on reaching Antarctica 
I hope to see thousands of different penguins. 
These Emperors are the largest penguins often 
reaching 4 feet in height......stars 
of that incredible documentary, March of the Penguins

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Buenos Aires, Argentina..........

Hello from Argentina - my first time ever in South America, 
and first stop on the way to Antarctica. This city is a hot 
place pulsing with color and tango music!
The beauty and warmth of Buenos Aires, often named 
"Paris of the South".

We were driven around both old and new sections of 
this vibrant city this afternoon.  
Thought you'd enjoy seeing some color before we reach 
the world of some green,
Definitely no tango dancing though!

Flying out to Ushuaia very early tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Time to leave...................

This evening I will meet up with Paula in Miami. A long night flight south to Buenos Aires, Argentina. A hot Summer day there, hopefully catching glimpses of tango dancers in the streets. A short night, perhaps time for a little sleep, then an early morning flight onward to the capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia, southernmost city in the world. An overnight and time to explore the town, shop for any last minute items..........then embark our ship, M/S Expedition, the afternoon of the following day (January 12).

I already feel the excitement.......getting acquainted with the layout of the ship, unpacking and tucking away my things in my cabin, meeting the crew, guides and lecturers, listening to the Expedition Leader giving the overview of our adventure ahead........and, as we go through the important safety drills, the first meeting with the 123 or so other passengers sharing this exciting voyage.

As we make passage east toward the Falkland Islands, the lecture series will begin and we'll learn about the extraordinary human and natural history of the Antarctic region. The Falklands should provide a rare opportunity to witness biological diversity and extraordinary scenery of the southern islands.......and we will visit Port Stanley to meet the inhabitants of this distant place.

Hope to share the journey as we proceed but, as mentioned before, this may not be possible........Internet access and cost etc. So, bundling up in warm layers, taking a deep breathe and heading south. 

If I'm missing from here for a 
while look for my return early in February.......will share stories then!  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Adventure travel.................. definitely an adventure from start to finish! Adventuring to Antarctica comes with rules, regulations, and a long list of must-haves for protection and comfort in the cold. A balmy, sunny 40 degrees Fahrenheit may be reached when I'm there as it's actually high Summer now, but it may be much colder.

Even packing for the adventure becomes exciting exasperating when the clothing checklist includes layers and more layers. Base layers, mid-layers, outer layers, dry layers, wicking layers, warm layers, fleece layers, silk layers, down layers, definitely NOT cotton layers. Then there's the feet which are very important - tall, totally waterproof Wellington boots with good traction soles, at least a size larger than normal to accommodate the socks - liner socks, thick outer socks, fleece boot liners, and if you really hate cold feet, the foot warmer thingies you can tuck in the toes, just like those for your gloves. Oh yes, the gloves, also very important - who wants frostbite from snapping all those amazing (hopefully) photos to share with you later. So, fingerless gloves, thin glove liners, huge bulky padded outer gloves, and yes, those warmer thingies to slip inside the gloves are stashed in my duffel bag too.......somewhere in the mess!

Please keep my tootsies warm!

Readying my carry on bag.........cameras, laptop, a change of clothing for the day and overnight in Buenos Aires where it will be hot, and yes, that's a jewelry pouch because even on the seventh continent I'm going to enjoy having a little 'bling' to liven up all those utilitarian layers at dinner time! Scarves will be going too........and several hats.......and you know I'm not turning up in the dining room wearing wellies!

As you can see from these pics taken today, my house has become a weigh station for large duffels. I tried, I really did, to get all the stuff in one, absolutely impossible. Perhaps one should adventure/expedition while still young..........they seem to manage with a backpack and not much else. They can move their lithe bodies through airports and into narrow plane seats with their extra layers already on their bodies. They don't require ten pounds of lotions and potions to look clean, rested and styling is unknown, they wash everything with a bar of soap, they don't even own a cuddly robe and slippers let alone pack them for a trip.........and I just bet they sleep in their t-shirts and undies, or nothing at all!

I know, I know, this trip is "an expedition" not a fancy smancy cruise like the recent Crystal sail from beautiful Venice to awesome Istanbul.............but I must have some creature comforts so far away from home and hearth. I hope you're in agreement..........and please wish me luck that all my luggage arrives safely otherwise I've not a clue what I'll do!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Frozen beauty of Antarctica.......

Above photos are from the website of G Adventures 

Time is getting short, I leave for Argentina on Wednesday, and I'm up to my eyebrows in packing my gear for the big adventure to Antarctica. The M/S Expedition shown above is the ship Paula and I will be sailing on for 18 days, and the zodiacs will be our transportation for shore excursions onto the ice.

Reading more about the journey and shipboard facilities available in such a remote location, I now realize it will be difficult, maybe even impossible, to stay in touch here on the blog while I'm away. Internet connections are not always an option and when they are the cost is prohibitive. Uploading photos will definitely not be an option as, even when possible, it could cost about $30 a minute, yikes! Anyway dear readers, you know I'll do my best, and if I can post now and then I will........if not, please be patient and wait for my return in early February.

Off now to work on the packing - think warm, waterproof, 
comfy and very casual. No dressing for dinner this 
trip thankfully.

This quote is my mantra for the day...............I'm in 
the subtracting stage, methinks those duffel bags are 
getting mighty heavy!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Kissing cousins.....................

When you leave home at a young age, I was almost 19, and travel far to find adventure in a foreign land, you sometimes lose close contact with some members of your original family. Cousins can be few or many, and being close to them when growing up is always fun. I only have two first cousins and, along with my brother, we are four in total. Fortunately we all spent time together as children as we lived within a few miles of each other.

As active kids we spent time at the local beaches in our respective beautiful seaside towns.........cousin David and me in Torquay (above - Thatcher Rock), cousin Susan in Teignmouth just along the coast

I never thought I'd see myself in a photo where I actually look short (I'm 5'8"), however the men in my English family are definitely tall...........and handsome, don't you agree?

My first cousin David on the left is dad to my three second cousins - Gary standing on my right, Aaron ready to dig into a delicious Christmas dinner, and lovely Nina giving her son Fraser age 4-1/2 (my third cousin) his first guitar lesson - Santa had obviously emptied his sack for such a good little guy. 

Fraser wearing the NC State shirt we brought him from North Carolina. He's just started school and was such a well-behaved kid.......and much less shy than when we met him for the first time in 2011.

On Christmas Day we had our meal together at a local hotel and I was thrilled to get a photo of my cousin David and his entire family.......Gary, David, Nina, David's wife Marsha, Fraser, Tosh his dad, my hubby Bob, me and Aaron.

Everything about being home for the holidays was wonderful. Although the weather could have have been kinder to us we still had a few minutes of sunshine now and then between the rainstorms....above pic is of the small terrace outside the apartment windows where we stay. It wasn't a biting cold rain, temperatures were quite mild, it wasn't gusting wind except during a storm on our last night. Whatever came we accepted and for me it was home, just as I always remember it when growing up with my family in a beautiful spot on the Devon coast.

Do you have close contact with your cousins? They often remind you of childhood times you shared and bring back so many fond memories. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Starting over...............

JANUARY ~ named from the Roman god Janus who is 
represented with two faces looking in opposite 
directions, as retrospective to the past, 
and prospective to the coming year.

January 1 ~ New Year's Day
January 6 ~ Twelfth Day ~ Epiphany

The wintry hedge was black
   The green grass was not seen 
    The birds did rest
     on the bare thorn's breast
            Whose roots, beside the pathway track
              Had bound their folds o'er many a crack
       Which the frost had made between
     ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley ~

I've made no resolutions.......but I do have plans for 
this new year, once January is over and I'm home again.