Feb. 14 – Pleneau Island & Petermann Island

2014 can’t be any better, can it?

I recently got a promo e-mail  from one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt, about his new online course called “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever.” It looks great, but to be honest, when I read that title, my first response was not possible. It is very hard for me to imagine a year better than 2013 was for me; at least not for things I can control. If 2014 is even 80% as awesome as 2013, I will be terribly content. My wife’s gift to me – my trip to Antarctica was a huge part of my amazing year.

Over the next few days, I hope to post the last of my collection and talk about the end of my trip. In my last post I talked about the Lemaire Channel. I have to admit my memory is getting a little sketchy regarding the precise chronology of the trip (I was too gobsmacked and distracted to even write decent notes) but some memories that stuck with me include:

  • My first sighting of “Killer Whales” in the wild. It is rather ironic that I have lived  on the west coast of Canada for over 30 years now and have even paid to go whale watching, yet I had never seen an Orca in the wild before this trip. (My kids, frequent ferry travellers to Vancouver Island, have seen pods multiple time.) We were very lucky to see a pod hunting in the distance; an unexpected surprise.
  • The “dirty” snow. We visited Pleneau Island & Petermann Island and it was the first time I noticed the algal blooms that made the snow look dirty green, brown, and orange – the latter was easily mistaken for penguin poo snow.
  • I saw a penguin drinking from a melted snow-water stream. Penguins need freshwater. Duh. I should have known that but they don’t show penguins drinking in “Happy Feet.” But it made me wonder what they drink when the weather is colder.  And cringe. Those smelly little guys defecate EVERYWHERE! No way I’d drink that. 
  • The icebergs continued to amaze me. Some of the smoothed icebergs looked exactly like large modern white and blue sculptures. I also saw my first “growler”… a “bergy bit” made from the extremely dense, extra hard compressed ice from the bottom of a glacier. Growlers are clear and lay low in the water. These facts have led some to speculate that it was a large growler that tore open and sank the Titanic.
  • Speaking of punctured boats, I am pretty sure that this was the day a playful leopard seal came to inspect the zodiacs, biting a hole in one of the pontoons on one of them. Fortunately, the Zodiacs have several individual air chambers. I am still kicking myself that I chose to leave my camera on the ship for this zodiac trip!
  • Close to the Argentinian refuge hut on Petermann Island there a cross commemorating three members of the British Antarctic Survey who died in a 1982 cross-country skiing. Getting lost, even for a while, in Antarctica can be fatal. It is rather intimidating knowing you are very far away from any real rescue if things go wrong.

As the day wound down, the Sea Spirit headed into open water and motored at speed toward the Antarctic Circle. At dinner, it was obvious we were outside the protection of the islands; the swells were impressive. About half-way through my meal I got extremely flush, the heat rising rapidly in my face, and I nearly lost my meal. I escaped to fresh air, then spent the rest of the evening lying in my bed wishing I had something a little more powerful than Gravol in my system.

It was the first day I felt homesick is that the right word for missing a person?. I think I can be excused for my very un-explorer-like thoughts though. After all, it was the first Valentine’s Day in over 30 years that I had been away from my lovely wife – and she is so worth missing.

Pleneau Island

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Petermann Island

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Greg Tjosvold is a teacher, writer, and innovator. One of the first to crowdsource his biography, he is apparently 12 ft tall, has no body fat, is always polite, and is the only living recipient of an Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Stanley Cup, Pulitzer, and two Nobel prizes (Economics and Break Dancing). He is currently reevaluating the merits of crowdsourcing.

He is the father of two amazing children and currently lives with his wonderful wife in the wilds of suburban Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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