Grytviken was the last stop through the South Georgia & Sandwich Islands. This is an old whaling town where in the last century, whalers would work here round the clock. The remnants of that history are prevalent everywhere, and our group was able to have a tour of the grounds. There is a small post office, and a small little shop that are active. There is a church, and old dormitories that are still there which were in full use once upon a time. I spoke with one of the ladies that worked at the shop and she said she was previously in a station in Antarctica before she arrived to Grytviken. Can't imagine living in such extreme cold for so long.
En route to the Antarctica Peninsula, we were able to stop at the Orkney Islands, specifically Laurie Island. This is a scientific base used by Argentinian scientists (yay science!!), and protected by the Argentinian military. They do 1 year rotations, and the new team had just arrive a week before we visited. It was cool to be able to speak Spanish with the people on base. It's was truly fascinating! While I was there, I decided to mail myself a postcard. It will probably arrive next year when they do their next rotation in February 2021.
I need to explain the next photo. When the boat was at sea, the movement was quite extreme. In our cabin room, the top drawer kept flying out when the boat would rock back and forth. I put my boots in the trashcan and put it against the drawer to keep it from flying out. I weighed down the trashcan with stuff on the bottom, and my boots upside down to make it reach the drawer's height. Someone said it looked like we stuffed someone in the trash can. Ha!
The A68a Iceberg has been floating since 2017 when it broke off the Larsen Ice Shelf. It is bigger than the size of Delaware with over 2200 surface area miles.
While on our way to the Antarctic Peninsula, we came across this gigantic iceberg. It was incredible!!
Since most everyone was out and about on the boat, we took a group photo.
Curtiss Bay was full of zodiac cruising. When conditions are not okay to land at a beach, we cruise. We enjoyed more orcas and icebergs!
Portal Point was where I first set foot on Antarctic Peninsula ground. I had the opportunity to take a photo with the flag that has a map of Antarctica. A couple of highlights included seeing an independent boat while cruising on zodiacs. Two boats met up; I believe one was French, and the other English. While cruising on zodiacs we also had the chance to see a lot of whales cruising by. There was heavy snow so I did not really take any photos because the snow would damage my camera equipment so I just enjoyed being covered in snow, and snow ball fights with other zodiacs. In the evening, we had the opportunity to do dinner outside. It was a DELICIOUS bbq on deck, so much fun!!
This stop was the last stop before heading out to sea through the Drake passage to head back to Ushuaia. We had a memorable day, not just out in nature, but also on the boat. We applauded all the workers in the boat, and had a wonderful meal. All the meals, every day, for every meal, were sensational. I have never eaten so well for this long of a time. Truly impressive meals! After our last dinner in the Antarctic Peninsula, we had an auction. I bid and won a bottle of Gin made in the Falkland Islands, a tin cup, and a t-shirt. I have yet to enjoy this gin; waiting for a nice opportunity.
One of the pictures I was part of was where all the people that completed their 7th continent visit in this trip, gathered to take a group photo! I was in a great group of people, all well-traveled all over the world. So inspiring!
One of the options during the trip was being able to go paddling during our time in Antarctica. My buddy was Laurie, and we had a great time paddling on the beautiful still waters. We came across a resting whale, and had the chance to see them swim by quite close to us as our group paddled.
The Polar Plunge was a MUST for me. I can't travel that far to not take the plunge! The waster was about 25 degrees. It was AWESOME!!!!! There was a line of people ready to plunge. I was in line with Laurie right behind me. Right after we took the plunge, both of us ran to our cabin and took turns taking a hot shower. Oh man, it was FREEZING!!! So much fun!!!!!
We returned to Ushuaia on the morning of March 4th. At the time, we were just becoming aware of Covid and the spread. Most of the passengers were on flights from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. My cabin mate Laurie and I made our way to the hotel where we first stayed and hung out a bit in their lounge to catch up on technology. We had no internet access through the duration of the trip. We went out for lunch and ran into more folks from our trip. Walked around a bit and enjoyed Ushuaia one last bit. Laurie headed out to the airport first and I stayed and walked around a bit more. I was able to get a taxi to take me to the airport later in the day. When I arrived to the airport I saw a ton of people sitting outside of security. It helps that I speak Spanish, I went to ask at the gate what was going on, and got clarity on flights... I got everyone in line to get through clearance and to our gates. We said our goodbyes, exchanged emails and numbers, and made our way to our gates.
I flew the 4 hours to Buenos Aires and I was met by the same gentleman that had picked me up when I first arrived to BA weeks prior. He drove me to my beautiful hotel. The next day, I found a top restaurant for Argentinian BBQ. It was fantastic! I was able to leave my mark with a commemoration place where I wrote my name with Chris' and my trip. After BBQ, I walked around a bit and came upon a small bookstore where I bought my dad some books in Spanish about Antarctica. I walked around a bit more then found a taxi to take me to my hotel again. I spent some time in the lounge and then my driver picked me up for the last ride to the airport. He dropped me off and we hugged goodbye, he truly made me feel like family. He drives for his son's transportation company, so if you ever need reliable transportation in BA, I highly recommend them.
At the airport, I checked in, went to the lounge and had a bit of time to relax before my flight. I departed at 10pm with a direct flight to LA. I at very little dinner in flight, then I made my bed and slept most of the flight to LA.
At home, the airport was eerily empty. It was really the first time seeing the effects of the Corona virus. In Argentina, airports were full with people trying to get back home. TO see the streets of LAX almost deserted was scary. I was grateful to be home, and thankful to make it back safely. I quarantined to make sure I was healthy, and so grateful I was okay.
Antarctica was the trip of a lifetime, and I cannot recommend it strongly enough! It was the best trip I have ever had.
I am sure that this year's Thanksgiving was difficult for most everyone. A couple weeks ago, my immediate family and I decided to make sure to quarantine and be extra careful so that we could enjoy a family meal together indoors. The times we visit my parents we are usually outside so we wanted to have a nice indoor meal together.
Since it was going to be at my house, I fully disinfected the house and made sure to have everything be extra clean. I started preparing Tuesday night. I put the turkey in a brine. Wednesday I made two french bread loaves, a lemon cake, and brussels sprouts with bacon. I also chopped all the vegetables I would need for Thursday. Thursday morning, I was up at 5:30am and took the turkey out of the brine and prepared it to go into the oven. Afterwards I started on the pecan pie. I baked that, then when that was out I put the turkey in. I took time to set the table, do laundry, and get the final touches ready in the house, and also got myself ready. Back to the kitchen... I made stuffing, mashed potaties, a salad, and got the turkey out of the oven. My parents, brother & sis-in-law came over a bit after 2 and they brought gravy, sweet potatoes, and a vegan pumpkin pie from Urth Caffe. I had a bottle of pinot noir, and chardonnay to pair with our meal. We all enjoyed this time together very much. Especially since LA county will be shutting down Monday.
I really hope everyone has been safe at home and staying well.
I truly cannot believe it's been 3 years today since Chris went to heaven. Sometimes it seems like it was longer, and other times, it feels like it just happened.
Since we are not able to gather, I decided to invite several friends to a zoom meeting to have a brief toast to Chris. I opened up a 2014 Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon from Chappellet Vineyards. It was a favorite of Chris and I's. I also made lamb for dinner.
I'm so grateful for those that were able to attend, even those that were not able to make it... I know you were all there in spirit. I was able to gather a lot of pictures of our history, so here are some of the photos....
Continue to rest in peace, Chris.
Have passport, will travel.