Saturday, February 05, 2011


   Marco Polo at Port Lockroy, Antartica
Why Antarctica today?  The past few days have been below zero degrees Celsius in Houston and it has felt like Antarctica when outside. Usually Houston is hot and humid but an Arctic Blast headed our way and reached the Gulf of Mexico.  Yesterday Houston was closed .... the roads were ice.  If you have been to Houston you would understand, but if not let me explain.  Houston has a series of Thruways, Beltways, and major highways all with flyovers and exit/entrance ramps, in cold weather these freeze first.  Freezing rain started around midnight and the temperature remained below zero, the roads were a dangerous mess.  By midday there had been 800 road accidents and four fatalities.  These warm weather folks do not know to keep off the road or that you do not see the ice or black ice on the road, many cars went sliding.

It was rough seas sailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, but once in the Antarctic region the sea was calm.  Penguins, penguins, penguins was what we saw when on land, but different varieties made each stop interesting.  Penguins eat krill and their poop stinks, what a shame I cannot share the smells with you. The krill poop also make the snow pink so it is obvious where the penguin rookery is.  Our 800 passenger ship was limited to 400 passengers and crew due to the daily personnel limits allowed on land in Antarctica.  The Antarctica is a take in/take out area to help preserve it and keep it clean, this is a good thing.
The red jackets were issued to all passengers before we entered the cold Antartic region.  Once on land we knew why, the jackets made us easy to see for rounding up purposes.  From ship to shore on Zodiacs is a fun experience in rough seas, fortunately the sea was mostly calm.  Before returning to ship we would sit on a chair in the water and a crew member would wash off our boots however, the krill perfume would still linger on our jackets.
No twigs available here so the nest is a rocky one, would make for a hard bed wouldn't it.  It was breeding time when we were there and we saw many chicks.
What a messy little eater, this penguin needs to go for a swim to get clean.
The mountains, snow and icebergs make for a beautiful view, cold but beautiful.  The days were sunny and bright, after all it was summer.
I believe you can feel the cold by looking at the photos.  The water looks cold and I would not want to go swimming.
Sailing past this iceberg I couldn't help but think, TITANIC.  We sailed into that thick white fog behind the iceberg and visibility was almost nil and they relied on instruments on the bridge.  With the fog horn blasting we hoped another ship would hear us, and we them.  We did pass another ship somewhere in the white fog.  Yep, I had thoughts of that iceberg until we arrived back in clear weather.  Then it was back to crossing the Drake Passage and I have never been in such rough weather or so sick on a ship. 

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