Monday, January 28, 2008

hospitality, fairbanks style

Caroline and Pat were up visiting from Anchorage this weekend - and got to enjoy fairbanks at it's finest. Temps bottomed out at 42 below (yes that's only 41 below in celsuis) on Saturday night here in the goldstream valley. They spent most of the day Sunday just trying to get their car started. Fortunately Ed let us borrow his weed burner, a very high tech devise used to warm a cold engine in extreme cold. That's just part of the hospitality you get around here - in addition to the doghair infested futon that's only 2 feet from the drafty door, and the comfy blue foam toilet seat. and i wonder why i don't get many visitors!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Long distance slide showing

i finally got my antarctica photos somewhat organized into two albums - best to view them in a slideshow here .

if you want to see my commentary hit the 'view captions' button on the right side.
note to mom: don't try this on dialup! (photos are small file size, but there's a lot of them)

grab a cup of tea and enjoy this phenomenal place!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

back in fbx mode

No doubt, it is a rough transition back into Fairbanks life in mid-January - no matter where you're coming from. But from the land of 22 hours of daylight, glaciers, penguins and albatross... to... 30 below, ice fog, job just ain't fun. Best way to beat post-trip depression is jump on another trip fast - so I was lucky to jump on a white mountains trip with good friends this weekend. No place can beat the quiet, peace, and expansiveness of the white mtns - especially with fresh snow and when the temperatures unexpectedly jump 60 degrees from last week!

caz puts on a good chase with the dog teams, she stayed with these guys for a few miles.

sunrise from the porch of eleazar's cabin.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

South Georgia

South Georgia is a sub-antarctic island, out alone in the middle of the southern ocean (1000 mi from the nearest land); it was by far the most spectacular place we visited, no doubt the most spectacular place I've ever been in my life. The glaciated mountain landscape surrounded by the sea is dramatic, combined with mind-boggling abundance of wildlife - millions of king and macaroni penguins, thousands of breeding albatross, fur seals so thick you couldn't even land on some beaches. a few photos...

Ernest Shackleton's grave at the old whaling station of Grytviken
The museum at Grytviken
The huge (150,000 breeding pairs) king penguin rookery at St. Andrew's Bay. The all brown specs are last years chicks that still haven't fledged yet.
Elephant seals have taken over the abandoned whaling station at Stromness

Friday, January 11, 2008

Buenos Aires

I spent a few days in Beunos Aires on the way home. As soon as I arrived some egyptian friends from the ship picked me up at my hotel and we went to an absolutely incredible tango show followed by a great outdoor midnight dinner. Next day I was feeling pretty sick (a sinus infection from the pollution?) so just enjoyed the really good Argentinian coffee and people watching.
Despite the pollution, it's an incredibly clean city for 11 million people. Driving around the city was interesting - very South American and chaotic, the largest street has 22 lanes - not that anyone uses the lanes.

The very colorful neighborhood of La Boca.


The motto of Ushuaia is: End of the world, beginning of everything. it's so fitting. seems to be the end of the world as you know it, and beyond it is a world that could only exist in your imagination. hard to believe the landscapes of ice sculptures are not paintings, the ultra-charismatic penguins are real and not cartoons... the stentch of the penguin and seal rookeries are the only thing that seems real, and that is all too real and powerful. It really is completely unlike anywhere else i've ever been.
Views of Ushuaia from the pier, a very quaint little tourist town.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

penguin tv

King penguins on South Georgia island trying to figure out how to get around the anchor lines of our zodiacs. This was pretty much a daily occurence, endless entertainment...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

long journey home

Back in the states, chicago at the moment. it's a long trip, but i don't mind too much this time around as i desperately need some decompression time. it's been a jam packed month - absolutely incredible, but also very little down time. that - as you might imagine - was most challenging from me. coming from living alone in a small cabin outside Fairbanks - to spending 24 hrs a time confined on a ship with 85 people. but it was a very international group (staff and passengers), it was refreshing to have my world so radically expanded. i really enjoyed some of the passengers.... in particular an older couple from south africa i wanted to adopt as grandparents and take home with me, and a small group of egyptians that i just spent the day with in Buenos Aires. the older folks in general were particularly inspiring - not the types to stay home and watch game shows, these guys were climbing hills, sledding down snow slopes on their bums, loading zodiacs in big swells..

I'll post more photos after i'm home in a few days.

Louie, the french historian, best zodiac driver, and everyone's favorite lecturer. I was really lucky to work with a really great and fun group of staff.