Saturday, February 18, 2017

Out Of Antarctica

I had intended to post from Antarctica itself, but time somehow gets away from you wile in a place like this. So, I'm posting instead from the Scotia Sea en route to the Falklands.

You might have heard of the Drake Passage between Ushuaia and the Antarctic. It is often windy and treacherous, and has become known to those with weak stomachs (such as yours truly) as the Drake Shake. Fortunately, we had one of the quieter rides, and so we refer to this area alternatively as the Drake Lake. (We've had some rough seas here and there anyway, and I'm trying to keep my meals from repatriating themselves to the outside world with an Australian drug called TravaCalm. So far, so good.) And believe it or not, there were a number of other cruise and expedition ships down there with us. Antarctica is becoming a major eco-tourist attraction.

Our week in the REALLY Deep South included four trips out to land, twice to islands, and twice to the mainland peninsula itself. Given the latter, I have officially joined the 7 Continents club, having now set foot on all seven continents. (Naturally, some academic types have just now come up with a possible eighth continent, Zealandia, but it's mostly under the ocean, so in my book, it doesn't count.) There were two days with weather rough enough to keep us away from shore, so we got to steam around and see the incredible territory instead. That's a reasonable consolation prize.

Photos do not do this area justice. At all. At least mine don't. Of course, my photo equipment includes a Sony RX100 M3, a GoPro with stabilizer gimbal grip, and my iPhone. I'm thinking the iPhone is probably the best of the lot. I've had some terrible cases of lens-envy when observing the setups some of the other passengers have with them. I attempted to ask someone who was showing off a few really incredible whale pics about his set-up. "It's a Canon 5D Mark II..do you know cameras?" When I said I did know something about them, but was not in possession of this $5K setup, the gentleman then made it a point to ignore me. See my comments about class in the previous entry.

But I do have hundreds of photos, and I'm proud of them. When I get back home, and have something to process them beyond Mrs. Dalai's old MacBook Air, I'll try to compile the best of them. In the meantime, here are a few random pics:











































You'll notice white lines in some of the images of the penguins. I don't have to tell you what they are, do I? But where there's grant money, there will be someone to claim it. The image below is from an honest-to-gosh scientific paper about...penguin defecation:





Yes, this was the topic of an on-board lecture. No guano. 

And finally, it wouldn't be Valentine's Day in Antarctica without a dip in the hot tub! It wasn't too bad getting in...



We were to get one last penguin visit in the Falklands, but gale-force winds forced us to carry on toward Uruguay. So w are now officially in penguin withdrawal, if there is such a thing. Oh well...one must be flexible when traveling in this part of the world.