Day #269 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world…

The sign reads, “fin del mundo,” the end of the world.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2017 when our ship was sailing the coast of South America and docked in Ushuaia, Argentina for the day. For more photos, please click here.

It was quite a day when our ship docked in Ushuaia, Argentina when only a little more than a month later we flew back to this amazing city to board our cruise to Antarctica for a fantastic expedition to see the wonders of our seventh continent we’d yet to see.

We were bundled up in Ushuaia. It was cold!

We decided to stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the cruise ended on December 23, 2018, for a month while awaiting the Antarctica cruise, staying in a boutique hotel in the lovely Palermo district where we were able to go sightseeing and dine out on a daily basis. As we continue here through the holiday season, most likely we’ll repost photos from that month while spending Tom’s birthday (December 23rd), Christmas eve and day, and New Year’s eve and day in Buenos Aires.

We stayed in that hotel from December 23, 2017, until January 24, 2018, to then fly back to Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world, to board Ponant Le Boreal (a luxury French ship/cruise line) to sail deep into Antarctica. It’s funny how we recall how challenging it was to be stuck in that hotel for a month, especially during the holidays.

An expedition ship, preparing to set sail for Antarctica. Soon, we’d be on such a ship.

It’s ironic, that now after nine months in this hotel how much we appreciated going out for walks, to dine, to see the sights in the fantastic area. Little did we know at the time, we’d be in a hotel with no freedom of movement, 10 times longer. Wow!

This morning while walking I encountered a man coming out of his room, asking him to pull his mask over his face. He was very kind and we began chatting. He is an executive on a two-month stint in Mumbai opening a new location for his worldwide company and he, too, was appalled by how few Indian people wear masks.

It was almost summer in Ushuaia, but it was cold and the mountains were still snow-capped.

It was nice chatting with someone after all these months and made me realize how hungry we’ve been for companionship and conversation with others. No offense intended for each other. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our daily interactions between the two of us. But, it will be nice to chat with others.

Many of our friends in Marloth Park mention on Facebook about getting together once we arrive. It will be an entirely new experience for us. Of course, we’ll exercise the utmost of the usual precautions, wearing face masks, no hugging, social distancing, and most likely not dining together, as we’d done in the past.

An exquisite albatross sculpture. We especially enjoyed seeing many albatross in the port.

Customarily, in South Africa, when people get together, they each bring their own beverages in a “chill box,” whether it’s a happy hour gathering or a dinner party. In these cases, it’s helpful that no one touches one another’s beverages and glasses, further reducing the risk of infection. I am sure we’ll figure it all out, especially by ensuring we gather in small groups only.

On the agenda today? We are going to book two more months for the rental car, so by the time we arrive at the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport, we’ll sign all three contracts, paying in advance,  providing us with insurance on the rental cars included on our credit cards (in increments of one month). If this works, we’ll avoid the two-hours (round trip) driving time every 30 days to return the car and get a new contract. We’ll see if this works and report back later.

Most of the town is centered around seaport enterprises.

As for the remainder of today? It will be the “usual.” We’re really enjoying watching the series, “The Crown” on Netflix after dinner each night. One of our thoughtful readers sent us a message suggesting we watch, “Call the Midwife.” We’ll give that series a try this afternoon when we wind down for the day and of course, wind down to the 26 days until we depart India!

May your day be safe and pleasant.

Photo from one year ago today, December 17, 2019:

Tom and I and Jerry and Vicki in Arizona last year. It was amazing to see them so many years later. We met them in January 2015 in Kauai, Hawaii. For more, please click here.

Volcanoes continue to fascinate us…Volcano found on an island we visited in Antarctica…

Me and a few Gentoo penguins on Saunders Island, Antarctica on January 26, 2018.  What an experience!

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“One of the most curious facts about Ireland takes place in the town of
Killorglin in the 
Reeks District. Here, a festival known as
the Puck Fair sees a goat crowned as King Puck for three days. The Queen of
Puck, traditionally a local young schoolgirl, crowns the goat.”

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When we noticed this news story from a popular news source in the UK, we went to work researching to ensure this story is true. We all know how sensationalism is rampant in the press.


Having been to Antarctica on one of the most amazing small ship cruises, Ponant Le Boreal, heading out on Zodiac boats often twice a day was an experience we’ll never forget.  

The price was high for this cruise but, in the end, we understood the reasons for the higher cruise fare.  It was truly a life-changing experience that will remain forefront in our minds when we think about past and future cruises.

When we confirmed the story was true, we decided to share it here.  Having visited Saunders Island on that Antarctica cruise, this story suddenly had special meaning for us.

Following is the story from the news source that we discovered a few days ago and this photo from the article:

Antarctica news: Saunders Island volcano
Not our photo (obviously). Antarctica: The active volcano sits on Saunders Island near Antarctica as seen from space.
From this site:

“Antarctica SHOCK: Scientists have found a monstrous LAVA lake under a sub-Antarctic island

ANTARCTICA scientists have just discovered a never-seen-before lake of bubbling lava under an Island in the sub-Antarctic circle.

The shocking discovery was made by the British Antarctic Survey using powerful satellite imagery of the Southern Hemisphere. The Antarctic survey confirmed the presence of molten lava in the crater of Mount Michael, an active volcano on Saunders Island. 

The small island in the sub-Antarctica circle is part of British Overseas Territory (BOT) in the Southern Ocean, near the icy continent Antarctica. But the really exciting part of the discovery is the lava lake is the eighth of its kind to be found on Earth.

Geologist Dr. Alex Burton-Johnson from the British Antarctic Survey said in a statement: “We are delighted to have discovered such a remarkable geological feature in the British Overseas Territory.

“Identifying the lava lake has improved our understanding of the volcanic activity and hazard on this remote island, and tells us more about these rare features, and finally, it has helped us develop techniques to monitor volcanoes from space.”

The incredible findings were submitted to the latest issues of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

The researcher’s paper reads: “This is the first evidence for a lava lake within Mt Michael from data that can resolve the crater floor, and the first evidence for magmatic temperatures.

“As thermal anomalies were detected in all images showing the crater, we suggest that the lava lake is a common and persistent feature.”
This is not, however, the first time scientists have suspected the presence of a magma lake in Mount Michael.

Mount Michael is an active stratovolcano on Saunders Island in the South Sandwich Islands.  This remote grouping of islands sits in the Southern Atlantic Ocean near Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.”

Of course, we never knew of, nor did we see the volcano.  From our position close to the beach it wouldn’t have been possible.  While on the Big Island in Hawaii in 2014, we were able to see the lava spewing from Mount Kilauea. 
This is a photo I took of a photo of when the lava crossed Apa’a Street on October 25th.
See this link for news report.  See our post from this date, please click here.
 See our photo below, taken from the observation deck at Kilauea National Park.

This was my favorite shot from the evening with the backdrop of the glow from Mount Kilauea. For more photos, please click here.
Having had the opportunity to see lava up close and personal as we did in 2014 only adds to the adventures of our world travels.  In one month from today, August 8th, we’re on the move again seeking more outstanding adventures.

Even the quiet uneventful days can bring adventure into our hearts and minds.  All we have to do is “Dream, Dream, Dream.”
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Photo from one year ago today, July 8, 2018:
A calf is born weighing 100 to 150 pounds and measuring in at 6 feet tall. A calf will begin to forage at about four months old.  For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica – February 8, 2018…Final expenses are here!!!…We’re back in Buenos Aires for two nights…

Killer Whales…we’ve yet to share the many photos and videos of whales and will do so over the next few days.

This morning’s short post:  Due to a poor Wi-Fi signal at the airport, we’ll have to wait until we arrive in Buenos Aires later today to complete our post.  Please check back later in the day for the final expenses.  Thanks for your patience.

These Black Browed Albatross build this unbelievable nests for their chicks.

Now, since we’re back in Buenos Aires, a little pooped after so many action-packed days, I honestly don’t have much ummph to write much.  I didn’t sleep more than three hours last night and have yet to have a bite to eat today.  

In a little while, we’ll make the walk to La Cabrera for our final dinner at the fabulous restaurant.  Our mouths are watering over the prospect of the options available and look forward to a great sit down meal. 

Gentoo Penguins in the thousands.

During the cruise, we mostly dined in the buffet with our group of friends since we all found the variety much more appealing than the lesser menu options in the formal dining room.

Magellanic Penguins on a mission to get to the beach.

It’s 5:30 pm.  We arrived back at the Prodeo Hotel about an hour ago, did a little unpacking, getting necessary toiletries out for the less than two days until we depart for Africa.

Rock Hopper Penguin parent and their chick (they only have one) but a friend chick stopped by for a visit.

We decided to wait to have our laundry done in South Africa since there just isn’t enough time to get it laundered and packed here.  By early afternoon tomorrow, we planned to be packed leaving out comfy clothing for the overnight flight.

This Rock Hopper Penguin is one of my favorite photos.

I apologize for the repeat photos we shared from only a few days ago.  But, when I perused through all the photos, some of these came up as favorites.  It simply can’t be helped.  Plus, I’m reasonably bleary-eyed and couldn’t muster any creativity or enthusiasm right now to go through the several thousand photos we shot during that 17 days.  Bear with us.  They’ll be coming.

Us and our flag on  “real life'” ice bar in Antarctica.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin to share our exciting whale photos although we did include one here today.  Plus, we’ll be uploading a few special videos we’ll finally be able to post on YouTube which allows us to share them here.

Seeing that which Mother Nature provides is life changing.

The flight today was good and pleasantly uneventful.  It was fun to see all the wonderful friends we’d made during the cruise on the plane.  Roundtrip airfare to Buenos Aires was included in the cruise fare.

Toasting with French champagne on a sofa on an ice floe.

Speaking of the cruise fare, here you go…our final expenses for the cruise and incidentals.  It was a hefty chunk for us but we have no regrets.  It certainly was worth all the sacrifices we made these past two years to make this possible.


Expense US Dollar Euro
Cruise Fare  $             34,500.00  $                27,945.00
 Airfare – inc in cruise fare  $                                –
Hotel Buenos Aires – 2 ngts $                    140.00 $                       113.40
Taxi – paid by hotel  $                  $              
Cabin Credit  $                 (101.23)  $                      (81.00)
Wi-Fi on ship  $                   444.45  $                       360.00
Gratuities  $                   250.00  $                       202.50
Miscellaneous  $                    29.63  $                         24.00
Doctor visit on ship  $                  213.73  $                       173.12
Total  $             35,476.58  $                 28,899.02
Avg Daily Cost – 17 days  $               1,970.92  $                   1,605.50

The “ice bar,” the real deal on an ice floe in Antarctica.

No doubt, this was a lot of money to spend for this relatively short period of time.  However, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one we doubt we’ll ever regret or repeat.

Happy as we could be to share this blissful experience.

Now, we need to get busy handling our complicated packing after storing half of our belongings here in boxes at the hotel.  Tomorrow will be a busy day but we plan to start it with a cup of coffee for Tom and tea for me, sitting in the hotel lobby, sharing more of this stunning experience with all of you.

Happy day to all!

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Photo from one year ago today, February 8, 2017:

This adorable coffee shop in Southport, Tasmania made us laugh.  It appears to be a diving bell  For more photos from our road trip, please click here.

Antarctica…February 7, 2018…Rough seas update…A most unusual experience on an ice floe in the Polar Circle…Spectacular…

Both of us raising a glass in celebration of this special occasion.

The Drake Passage continued to be rough, requiring we hold onto walls and railings when we walk throughout the ship with a degree of added difficulty while maneuvering in the cabin, especially in the bathroom and shower.  Last night, the buffet where the 12 of us has dined together on most occasion was closed and we had no choice but to dine in the main dining room.

We loved the sofa and a champagne bar on an ice floe in the Polar Circle.  I couldn’t resist lying down for this pose.  How fun it was!

Today, it’s settled down and all dining areas will be open.  However, this morning the ship continued to bob, occasionally jerk and lurch from side to side. We haven’t heard anything from the bridge as to the size of the swells or speed of the winds, both of which we anticipate have been fairly high.

Tom with icebergs in the background sitting on the sofa on the ice floe.

We’ve weathered it well with nary a moment of seasickness for which we’re extremely grateful.  Many passengers had no choice but to wear the seasickness patches or take medication to avert the uncomfortable sensations attributed to getting sick at sea.  But surprisingly, many passengers had no ill effects like us.

The wine steward, Laurent served us French champagne.

Later today, we’ll arrive in Ushuaia where the ship will spend the night.  This afternoon, we’ll pack leaving out enough clothing to get us through the next 24 hours.  We’re baffled as to why the ship designated tonight as a “dress up” night when everyone needs to have their baggage ready for pickup around 10:00 or 11:00 pm.  As a result, we’ll be casual tonight as usual.

It was fun to hold up our US flag on the ice floe.

Now, as the cruise winds down, I’m feeling a little sad to see it end.  Without a doubt, this ranks in my top three experiences since we began traveling the world in October 2012.  Definitely, it’s an expensive once-in-a-lifetime adventure leaving us with photos, stories, and videos we’ll always regard as treasured memories.

The bar was set up on on the ice floe earlier in the day so by the time we arrived, everything was set and ready to go.

We’re thrilled to be heading to Africa next since many other locations could be anticlimactic after this stunning experience.  Africa won’t disappoint and I expect we’ll handle the transition with ease, even with the vast difference in weather conditions.  It’s will be hot for a while longer in South Africa during their hot and humid summer months. 

Tom holding the “I crossed the Polar Circle” sign while sitting on the sofa.
Fortunately, we’ll have air conditioning in the bedroom and we’ll spend most of our days outdoors on the veranda. As excited as we’ve been during this outstanding cruise, a little tinge of excitement impacted me knowing on February 11th, we’ll arrive in Mpumalanga, Nelspruit/Kruger, albeit very tired after the long flight with layovers, to commence the 90-minute drive to Marloth Park.

Both of us holding the “I crossed the Polar Circle” sign.

We still have many Antarctic photos and videos we’ve yet to share and will attempt to wrap them up while in Buenos Aires during our final two days in Palermo Soho while we reorganize our packing, get laundry done (we only hand washed underwear on the cruise) and get ready for the upcoming long flight.


The sun setting on the icy waters.

Tonight, we booked a table for 10 in the buffet for our final meal with our group of new friends.  We all prefer to dine in the buffet where the options are many and the food more appealing for all of us than in the main dining room with limited menu options. 

There is exquisite scenery at every turn.
Overall, Tom hasn’t been thrilled with the food (picky eater) but I found it suitable for my diet and don’t have a complaint.  As for food photos, I’ve yet to show many when food was the last thing on my mind during this adventure.
The sun reflecting on the sea during daylight hours.

Today, we’re excited to share the photos of one of the most enjoyable events during the cruise, drinking French champagne, once again after a Zodiac boat ride, but this time, in the Arctic Circle on an ice floe, not while in the Zodiac as we shared a few days ago.  This surprising event left all of us reeling with sheer delight over the irony of the situation.

It was fascinating to see how the ship and Zodiac boats maneuvered through the ice-filled waters.
Who stands on an ice floe, sipping champagne? What an exquisite touch added to this magnificent cruise!  We’re all still talking about it along with all the other exceptional experiences we’ve had during this past almost 17 days and 16 nights.
Icebergs often develop into artistic designs.

Since we’ll be getting off the ship before 8 am tomorrow, this afternoon we hope to have time to prepare tomorrow’s post with the “final expenses” to automatically upload around our usual earlier time of the day.  We’ll be adding “favorite photos” in the two or three posts we’ll prepare while in Buenos Aires.

A single Crabcatcher Seal on an ice floe.

If for some reason, we can’t get tomorrow’s post done today, we’ll finish it once we arrive in Palermo later in the day.  In other words, there will be a post tomorrow, but at this point, the exact time if up for grabs.

It has been exciting to see wildlife sunning on ice floes.
My knee has greatly improved after the ship’s doctor provided excellent medical care and we’re both feeling well and ready to tackle this next leg of our journey.


Another Crabcathcer Seal lounging on an ice floe.
Stay well.  Stay happy and please, stay tuned for more. 
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Photo from one year ago today, February 7, 2017:
A white sand beach in Dover, Tasmania. For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica – February 6, 2018…Wild seas in the Drake Passage…

We made a great video but won’t be able to share it until we’re back in Buenos Aires due to the poor Wi-Fi signal.

Currently, we’re experiencing what is classified as Level 2 (of three levels) rough seas in the Drake Passage, which is known to be the roughest seas anywhere in the world. It’s difficult to walk across a room and down the hallways.

My water glass flew off the table in the lounge on deck three.  I’d decided against drinking tea this morning when the risk is too high for getting scalded.  As I began preparing this post, there was only a handful of passengers in the lounge.  We imagine the rest are in their cabins preferring not to walk about the ship.

Seasickness bags are positioned throughout the ship’s public areas, as shown in this elevator.

Tom usually has a few poached eggs and bacon in the buffet each morning while I wait until lunch to eat.  Most mornings, I join him and sip on herbal tea.  This morning, I suggested he go on without me since it would take a little longer for me to get showered, dressed and ready for the day based on the rocky conditions.

Taking a shower was challenging.  Thank goodness there is a grab bar in the shower which I hung during the shower.  I decided to forgo shaving my legs which I usually do daily.  “Too risky,” I thought as I bounced around in the small space.

This photo was taken from our cabin balcony this morning.  It’s certainly wild!

I hurried and by the Tom returned to the cabin, I was ready to go.  We grabbed my laptop and headed to the lounge.  As we sat on a sofa we stared out the windows, stunned by the raging seas although we weren’t feeling seasick (thank goodness). Glasses and cups flying around breaking with a loud crash, startling the few of us in the lounge on each occasion.

This 264 passenger ship (only 200 expedition cruisers are allowed to enter Antarctica) is considerably smaller than any cruise ship on which we’ve sailed over these past five-plus years.  It’s more like a luxury yacht than a cruise ship.

The seas continue to lurch unpredictably, making walking rather challenging.

As a result of the ship’s smaller size, we’re feeling the rough seas considerably more than we have during rough seas during any of our prior 21 cruises since the onset of our world travels, except for the trans-Atlantic crossing in 2013.

Are we scared?  If it gets to Level 3 within next 28 hours or so until we arrive in Ushuaia on Wednesday (where we’ll spend one more night on the ship), it could be one rough and rocky ride. 

For a moment it may seem calm and then whoosh…there’s a giant swell powerful enough to knock us off our feet.

The cruise line had planned the extra overnight in Ushuaia to accommodate any delays in our arrival due to rough seas.  It certainly makes sense for them to plan accordingly to prevent passengers from missing their flights.

At this point, we’re fine, not overly worried and prepared to stay as stable as we possibly can.  We made a video and took these few photos of the rough seas but at the moment, I’m having trouble holding onto my laptop on my lap and don’t necessarily feel like going outside to take more or better photos. 

The waves are splashing up to the 6th deck.

Based on the fact any videos we post here must be uploaded to YouTube and with the signal is too weak to upload a video, we’ll save it for when we wrap up the posts from Antarctica once we’re on land.

We’d planned on posting other photos but today, we decided to focus on this last leg of our journey through the Drake Passage as we head back to civilization.  We’ll be back in touch soon.  We’ll keep you updated.

May your day be safe and steady!
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Photo from one year ago today, February 6, 2017:

We were at the Geeveston, Tasmania Classic  car show when we spotted this ’48 Chevy Fleetmaster,  made the year I was born.  Gee.,,that car is old and so I am!  For more, please click here.

Antarctica – February 5, 2018…Pleneau…Check this out!…Amazing!

There we were, sitting on a Zodiac boat in Pleneau Bay sipping on French champagne.  Was that ever fun!


The excitement keeps coming and coming. This exquisite ship and its staff go over the top to make this an exceptional experience for all of its passengers, even when circumstances may not be ideal. All passengers, based on languages spoken are broken up into color groups, red, green, yellow with blue for us and many of our English speaking new friends.

Tom taking a sip of champagne.

When announcements are made the color groups are called, one at a time, to board the Zodiac boats.  On Saturday morning, we were scheduled to board a Zodiac at 7:00 am.  After a rough start to the morning, we decided to wait and go aboard at the end of all of the color groups.  This proved to be a mistake.  By coincidence, we ran into new friends Marg and Steve, who’d had the same idea.

Now, we aren’t the type of people looking for special favors or expecting to be given alternate spots in a line. We patiently await our turn, regardless of the circumstances. With the ship’s careful planning to get each passenger a full experience, when the last boat arrived, a group of 10 was taken before us and we were told we wouldn’t be able to go. We’d missed our opportunity and we headed back indoors to get out of the hot and bulky clothing.

All 10 of us on the boat were handed champagne flutes while Chris filled our glasses.

Within moments, the ship’s hotel manager Florent, approached us stating he was going to find a solution for the four of us to get out on the Zodiac for at least a 30-minute expedition of Paradise Bay, as opposed to the planned 75-minute tour. We insisted it wasn’t necessary. It was our fault we’d failed to get to board in a timely manner.


We waited patiently in the Main Lounge on deck three, not expecting it would work out.  Voila!  Florent and Cruise Director William made it happen.  They didn’t want us to miss this special outing on the Zodiac boat. 
Chris, a high ranking naturalist on board drove the Zodiac and hosted the toasting of the champagne.

The four of us boarded the 10 passenger boat and our driver took us on a superb tour of the area. As it turned out the tour was almost for an hour and we were grateful, promising we’d never miss a scheduled time again and we haven’t.

The champagne and flute carriers were loaded on to all of the Zodiac boats.
There have been out on no less than 15 landings and/or Zodiac excursions since the onset of the cruise.  I missed one, early on, when it was a steep climb when my knee was at its worst.  Instead, Tom went on his own and took excellent photos.

We were told we’d stay away from most of the icebergs, many of which could collapse at any moment.

As for all the remainder of the expeditions, we walked as much as I could, at times avoiding the highest and hardest climbs.  The doctor has said I could walk but not climb. 

A mushroom-shaped iceberg was much bigger than it appears in the photo.

We don’t feel as if we’ve missed a thing.  We took thousands of photos, experiencing interesting and unusual sightings fulfilling all of our goals in visiting our seventh and final continent, the vast Antarctic and its many wonders.

Our favorite bartender, Nick.  He’s quite a guy!
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the people we’ve met, much of the food, the entertainment and the conscientious and friendly staff, from the captain to the bartenders, including Nick, our favorite as shown in the above photo, to our cabin steward Ike, all of whom are highly savvy as to the utmost in customer service.
A Crbcatcher Seal taking the plunge.

There’s a reason for paying the “big bucks” for this type of cruise and its evidence each day by extras and surprises planned to make our Antarctic experience all the more memorable.
Icebergs are so interesting and unusual.  This was massive, many stories high,

As shown in today’s photos, we all had an unexpected special event of being served real French champagne aboard our Zodiac when we toured Pleneau, which is known as the “graveyard for icebergs”” where many icebergs end up in this region based on prevailing winds and tides.

Seeing each individually unique iceberg stacked up in this area and being served champagne at the same time, made this a very special experience, also as shown in today’s photo.
Crabcatcher Seals lounging on an iceberg.
Tom doesn’t care for champagne so he passed his off to Marg who happened to be on this 10 passenger boat with us (along with her husband Steve).  I wasn’t about to drink two flutes of champagne when it was still early in the day. 
Tom with his Antarctic sunburn.
Neither of us cares to drink any alcoholic beverages during daylight hours, finding it makes us sleepy and out of sorts.  We wanted to feel great to continue to enjoy every aspect of this spectacular cruise, one we’ll never forget and realistically one we’ll never make again.  For us, coming to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Although, we’ve met a few passengers who’ve returned a few times, including one glaciologist scientist, Adie, who’s made this her 9th and last visit. Surely, she’ll be sad to say goodbye to this exquisite part of the world that some adventurers can’t get out of their system.

A passing Silver Cloud ship.

We have so much more to share, including numerous whale sightings and a ship’s party on an ice floe! Please check back!

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Photo from one year ago today, February 5, 2017:

Late 30’s model Ford at an old car show in Geeveston, Tasmania.  For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica – February 4, 2018…A rare opportunity for travelers…We’re in the Polar Circle..Paradise Bay nd Pleneau…

This is where we are now, the Polar Circle.  Soon, we’ll be boarding the Zodiacs again to explore this area.  The ship hosted an outdoor barbecue today.  It was outstanding!

What can we say?  There are no words to describe the elation we felt this morning as we crossed into the Polar Circle, heading as far south as this ship is allowed in these waters as the sea heaved up and down congested in ice.  This stunning experience has left us reeling in awe and in love with this mysterious place, Antarctica.

The deep blue in the iceberg is due to crevices in the ice.

There are no hotels, no restaurants, no tourist traps and no roads or highways.  There is ice, ocean, and wildlife only accessible by sea or air with only a handful of visitors allowed to enter each year (round 37,000) and a mere 30,000 worldwide, allowed to step onto its islands and glaciers to partake of its majestic beauty, Antarctica.


We’d never have been satisfied to embark on one of the “cruising only,” non-expedition type cruises that the other 30,000 passengers experience. This numbers aren’t exact but estimated since the records we could find online don’t break it down for “cruising only.
Pristine landscape in Antarctica.

It wouldn’t have been enough for us to “cruise by.”  Getting up close and personal with the wildlife and the terrain has changed us, as we’ve changed in many ways over these past 5¼ years since we began our journey.

Each iceberg has its own distinct shape and design, a product of nature.

Do we feel lucky?  Ah, we’re beyond such a flippant perception of good fortune befalling upon one’s head.  We worked hard for this.  We sacrificed a lot to be here.  We scrimped.  We saved.  We lived frugally. 

It was two years ago we booked this cruise knowing it wasn’t within the realm of our usual budget and we’d have to tighten our belts to make it happen. 
Many icebergs create spectacular shapes, portals, and openings.

And, we did.  Living a life of perpetual travel requires us to carefully pick and choose what matters most to us.  Our decisions may not appeal to the average traveler. 

A closer view of the above photo.

Many travelers seek to fulfill their objectives of visiting certain sites when they arrive at their preferred destination.  Often, they have only one or two weeks to accomplish this.  And, once they do, they’re content and satisfied.  We get this. 

During each maneuver in the Zodiac, the scene becomes more unique.

Had I been able to travel more in our old lives, we’d have felt the same way…see and do as much as possible, in a limited period of time, going home from the vacation/holiday to face a painstaking routine. 

They have to unpack, do laundry, clean the refrigerator and head to the market, the health club and ultimately, if applicable, the office or another place of employment. 

At times, we all talked about how unreal it is being in this magical place.

On the few occasions, we were able to travel, we experienced all of these.  But, now, it’s different.  We feel no sense of urgency, other than to catch a flight, board a cruise and get ourselves to or from the next location. 

At times, the water was calm and almost still.

Instead, we embrace the moment, longing for nothing, remembering everything, emblazoned in our hearts and minds or from the simple task of checking one of our previous post now numbering at 2015 posts as of today. 


How we got here baffles us.  It baffles us in the same way as this morning at 6:40 am when our captain announced over the loudspeaker in our cabin that we’d all better look outside “where the big show was going on.”

When we spotted this massive 10 story circle, we all squealed with delight, knowing we’d be able to get closer.

We’re in the Polar Circle, for an ice show one can only imagine.  We grabbed the two cameras and began taking photos of the spectacular display.  Oh, Mother Nature, what glorious gifts you have bestowed upon us. 

Today, we share only a handful of photos from a stockpile into the 1000’s that in itself has kept us busy trying to determine which we can use to share with you here, based on limitations of the Wi-Fi connection in this remote part of the world.
Tom, who’s always seen images in clouds, did the same with the icebergs, seeing a face here.
Our main photo was taken this morning standing on our veranda.  The remaining photos are from yesterday morning and afternoon visits to Paradise Bay on foot and Pleneau when we were on a Zodiac boat with friends Marg and Steve as the four of toured together with a fabulous naturalist, Marie, who drove the boat and explained details to us as to the sightings we encountered.
We’ll continue to do our best to keep it all sorted out, based on our location of the previous day and the current day.  Thank you for sharing this experience with us.
We had to keep our distance from this delicate structure which would be a disaster for us in the small boat, where it to collapse near us.

P.S.  As I prepare this post today, we can hear the loud roar of the ship cutting through ice as we head toward the Drake Passage on our way back to civilization.  Wow!

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 Photo from one year ago today, February 4, 2017:

At first glance at the Huon Valley Visitors Centre, we thought these were baguettes, big and small, when in fact they were rolling pins.  For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica – February 3, 2018…Half Moon and Deception Islands…The expedition continues…

This has got to be one of our favorite Antarctic photos, a Chinstrap Penguin lying on the rocks for a short rest with what looks like a winsome smile on his face.

Due to Wi-Fi issues, we’re unable to format line spacing.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Most days, we board the Zodiac boats twice, once in the early morning and another in the afternoon between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm since it stays light until after 10:00 pm in the Antarctic this time of year.  It’s not easy undertaking dressing and undressing in many layers of clothing to ensure we stay toasty warm when out on the 10 passenger boats.    

Moments later, he stood up and posed for this shot.  Thank you, Penguin.

All of our outer layers are waterproof, a must for an Antarctic expedition even in these warmer summer months when temperatures can drop well below freezing.  Also, as the windiest place in the world, we never felt over-dressed after reaching as far south as the South Shetland Islands in the Antarctic Peninsula.

The rocky terrain was suitable for the penguins but less so, for us humans.

After years of relatively warm climates, surprisingly it wasn’t difficult for either of us to adapt to the cold windy climate.  After Tom spent his first 60 years in Minnesota and my 45 years, both of us felt right at home in the cold weather.

A group of passengers atop a hill we were climbing.

Each time we venture off the ship we bundle up in long Lycra workout pants, waterproof ski pants, hats, gloves and then the huge warm red parkas the ship provides (which we can keep). 

It was highly entertaining seeing these adorable playful Chinstrap Penguins.
After layering the parka we add the compact-sized life vest as shown in our photos, stuff our sea pass cards into the see-through window on our sleeves and haul our heavy rubber boots and backpack with two cameras to deck three.
Our ship, Ponant Le Soleal, waiting for us while we were on shore.
From there, we wait in line to have our cards swiped and then we don our waterproof gloves in order to board the Zodiac boat.  Two staff members assist passengers getting on and off the Zodiac boats.  In rough seas, it can take special diligence stepping from the ship onto the Zodiac.
Penguins combing through the rocky cliff.
But now, for most of us, getting on and off the Zodiacs has become second nature.  Even me with the bad knee has been able to manage fairly well.  Once we reach the shore, we swing our legs around from sitting on the outer edge of the inflatable (although very sturdy) boat and slip down off the edge directly into the icy sea.  Our high boots and waterproof pants keep us from getting w
Antarctica has many unusual rock formations from millions of years of glacier activity.

Before we embarked on this cruise, we wondered how adept we’d be in handling the rocky rough terrain, the Zodiac boats and the often steep climbs to viewing points.  Had it not been for my knee, I wouldn’t have been hesitant.  Tom is more sure-footed than anyone I know and is always a stabilizing force for me when I need help.  I’m kind of clumsy.  Always have been.  But, we do fine. 

Penguins are very social among themselves.  Note a few fluffy chicks in this colony.
As for yesterday, we had two landings; one on Half Moon Island and the other on the more commonly recognized, Deception Island.
A fur seal lounging next to an abandoned half barrel on Deception Island.
First here’s some information on Half Moon from this site:
“Half Moon Island is a minor Antarctic island, lying 1.35 km (0.84 mi) north of Burgas Peninsula, Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands of the Antarctic Peninsula region. Its surface area is 171 hectares (420 acres).[ The Argentine Cámara Base is located on the island. It is only accessible by sea and by helicopter; there is no airport of any kind. The naval base is operational occasionally during the summer, but is closed during the winter.  Plants found on the island include several lichen and moss species as well as Antarctic Hairgrass.

The island has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International because it supports a breeding colony of about 100 pairs of south polar skuas. Other birds nesting on the island include chinstrap penguins (2000 pairs), Antarctic terns (125 pairs), kelp gulls (40 pairs), Wilson’s and black-bellied storm petrels, Cape petrels, brown skuas, snowy sheathbills and imperial shags.Weddell and Antarctic fur seals regularly haul out on the beaches. Southern elephant seals have been recorded. Whales are often seen patrolling the shores.
The island is used as a stop during Antarctic cruises, with the peak of visitation during November–March. There is a 2,000 m (2,200 yd) walking track on the southern part of the Island which allows tourists to get a close view of the wildlife (mainly chinstrap penguins and skuas), and of the surrounding mountainous scenery of nearby Livingston and Greenwich Islands. The path begins on the south side of Menguante Cove, runs westwards along the beach to Cámara Base, then turns north along the head of Menguante Cove, and eventually ascends northeastwards to the top of Xenia Hill.”

Our next stop in the late afternoon was Deception Island, directly into the caldera of a active volcano.  Here’s information about that island from this site:

“Deception Island is an island in the South Shetland Islands archipelago, with one of the safest harbours in Antarctica. This island is the caldera of an active volcano, which seriously damaged local scientific stations in 1967 and 1969. The island previously held a whaling station; it is now a tourist destination and scientific outpost, with Argentine and Spanish research bases. While various countries have asserted sovereignty, it is still administered under the Antarctic Treaty System.

The first authenticated sighting of Deception Island was by the British sealers William Smith and Edward Bransfield from the brig Williams in January 1820; it was first visited and explored by the American sealer Nathaniel Palmer on the sloop Hero the following summer, on 15 November 1820. He remained for two days, exploring the central bay.
The whaling equipment and housing were destroyed by a volcano eruption in 1969 and operations ceased from there.
Palmer named it “Deception Island” on account of its outward deceptive appearance as a normal island, when Neptune’s Bellows revealed it rather to be a ring around a flooded caldera.  
Over the next few years, Deception became a focal point of the short-lived fur sealing industry in the South Shetlands; the industry had begun with a handful of ships in the 1819–20 summer season, rising to nearly a hundred in 1821–22. While the island did not have a large seal population, it was a perfect natural harbour, mostly free from ice and winds, and a convenient rendezvous point. It is likely that some men lived ashore in tents or shacks for short periods during the summer, though no archaeological or documentary evidence survives to confirm this. Massive overhunting meant that the fur seals became almost extinct in the South Shetlands within a few years, and the sealing industry collapsed as quickly as it had begun; by around 1825 Deception was again abandoned.
In 1829, the British Naval Expedition to the South Atlantic under the command of Captain Henry Foster in HMS Chanticleer stopped at Deception. The expedition conducted a topographic survey and scientific experiments, particularly pendulum and magnetic observations.  A watercolour made by Lieutenant Kendall of the Chanticleer during the visit may be the first image made of the island. A subsequent visit by the American elephant-sealer Ohio in 1842 reported the first recorded volcanic activity, with the southern shore “in flames”. 
Please click this link to continue the above story.
A resting Gentoo Penguin.

After returning yesterday afternoon, again we met with all of our new friends for happy hour and then later for dinner.  After dinner ended, we headed to deck three for the live band in the lounge and a night of Karaoke.  We pulled chairs together and had another spectacular evening of entertainment, lively chatter and endless travel stories.

Tom spotted this military ship while we were on land at Deception Island.

This morning was quite an experience when we toured a portion of Paradise Island, a stunning experience, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.  Now, we need to work on the photos and get this post uploaded in time to board a Zodiac for another outing today.  We’re the “blue” group and we need to be dressed and ready to go by 2:15 pm.

Alternate view of a military vessel at Deception Island.

With only five days remaining until the cruise ends, we’re savoring every moment and hoping you are doing the same!                          

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Photo from one year ago today, February 3, 2017:


Expansive views of the Huon River in Tasmania, Australia.  For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica – February 2, 2018…A sighting like none other…

One of the first icebergs we saw since arriving near the Antarctic Peninsula.  We zoomed in to spot the penguins on board.
The captain maneuvered the ship so we could see this in more detail. This was a stunning sighting…Chinstrap Penguins living on an iceberg!

It’s easy to ooh and aah over what we’re seeing in Antarctica.  This barren frozen part of the world in its forbidden nature and mystery provides us with ample opportunities to fuss over its majesty.  But, it’s much more than that.  It’s a step in a world we knew existed and never imagined we’d see in our lifetimes.

This was one of the first icebergs we spotted in the Antarctic Peninsula.  How beautiful is this structure?
Imagine, a mere 37,000 visitors come to Antarctica each year.  This number astounded us when we’d expected it was many more.  This number made us further realize what an opportunity it is to visit this frozen continent, 99% of which is covered in ice, which is rich in wildlife, history and spectacular scenery
We weren’t certain as to the source of this item.  Could it be the feathers of some type of seabird?

Antarctica’s geology is highly varied and in a state of constant flux, considering the size of the continent, the changing tectonic landscape, the environment, and constantly changing climate. 

A solitary fur seal gazing out at the sea.
Add the unique wildlife most of which is seldom, if ever, found in other parts of the world, this vast area of pure white, leaves most of us, including scientists, mystified and curious as it to what we have to anticipate in centuries to com
A courting male and female fur seal?

The answers aren’t clear and definitive, perpetually swirling around a political arena that really shouldn’t have any influence on the outcome.  Do we see massive icebergs melting, glaciers melting into the sea and changes wrought by human intervention?  Not necessarily.

Could this be a whale bone on the rocky beach?

The scientists aboard ship whom we listen to during daily seminars don’t espouse any political references of what is yet to come.  Instead, they speak of the literal ebb and flow that naturally occur in this part of the world.  We certainly haven’t heard any doomsday predictions of what we should anticipate in the future.

It was tricky walking over these large rocks on Penguin Island.  We walked carefully and gingerly.

Instead, we hear conscientious discussion of us visitors keeping our clothing and equipment free of any potential contaminants that may affect the delicate ecological balance that is vital to the survival of the precious wildlife and minimal vegetation able to grow in this stark environment.

Whale bones on the rocky beach.

By no means, do I write this as a political stance.  I write this from the eyes of two world travelers who cherish the “wild” which we’ve made a priority in our lives as we migrate from country to country, continent to continent on a perpetual search for the most awe-inspiring scene, breathtaking landscape, and heart-pounding wildlife. 

Bones of a fur seal.

We do this with a love and a passion to embrace those magical moments when Mother Nature bestows a morsel of Her infinite beauty our way, for our eyes to behold and when possible, for our camera to capture.  What matters to us may pale in comparison to what appeals to others. 

Then again, perhaps our expectations aren’t too high when the simplest of images can propel us into a tizzy of squealing with delight. 

Penguin bones.
Such was the case yesterday, shortly after returning for our late afternoon visit to Penguin Island located in the area of the Antarctic Peninsula when we beheld a vision, one that we’ll never forget as shown in today’s main photo…an iceberg floating in the sea with a colony of penguins on board for the ride.
Elephant seals hanging out together by the sea.

There wasn’t a passenger on this ship (of a total of 194) who didn’t have a camera in hand as their hearts raced over the pure delight of seeing this unique situation (unique to us anyway) knowing this sighting would remain at the top of their list of special sightings on this 16-night expedition cruise.

Tom, outdoors in short sleeves on a cold day in Antarctica with an iceberg in the background.

For me, it became a highlight of this adventure, a symbol of how vast is the world we inhabit and how magnificent it is compared to the infinitesimal world surrounding our personal states of being. 

We feel lucky.  We feel blessed and above all, we feel humbled, to be entrenched in it now and to live entrenched in the memories of having been here.

Stay tuned, folks.  More is yet to come.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 2, 2017:

Sailing is a popular activity in Tasmania.  For more details, please click here.

Antarctica – February 1, 2018…Wow!…Rough night at sea…St. Andrews, South Georgia landing…So

It’s literally a “sea of penguins” along the strip of beach in Saint Andrews Bay.

We knew the risk of missing many planned landings was high when we booked this cruise.  Inclement weather would undoubtedly be the cause. Although I remained optimistic and perhaps a little “overly bubbly” on the topic, Tom in his usual practicality was less so.  He was certain we’d miss several planned landings and once again, he was right. 

As we approached Saint Andrews Bay of South Georgia Island.

So far, due to bad weather, we’ve missed five planned “ports of call” so to speak and possibly more is on the horizon. We are amidst a storm at sea and feel fortunate this smaller ship (200 passengers) has managed to avoid damage in the raging seas we’ve encountered these past few days, especially in the past 24 hours.

The King Penguin didn’t like all the attention.


Last evening during happy hour from the bar on deck six, we all took videos, stunned how the waves slammed against the windows and topped over the highest points of the ship. It was astounding and I must admit somewhat daunting in this smaller ship. Most cruise ships have the capacity for 2000 to 6000 passengers and crew. We can walk from bow to aft in a minute or two.

Penguins with an Elephant Seal lounging in the background.
Last night the buffet restaurant where we usually dine with all of our friends, closed when they simply couldn’t keep glasses, plates and various dishes from propelling to the floor when a massive swell sent everything flying.   
The back of the head of a King Penguin.
Instead, we dined with Marg and Steve on deck two in the formal dining room while we frequently peered out the windows at the outrageous swells, often coming up and over the top deck of the ship.  Was that ever spectacular?

Penguins will often lay down on the pebbles, like this, to stay cool on a warm day.
Do we worry during rough seas, especially when we’ve heard stories from several passengers regarding incidents on these smaller ships?  Many momentarily when we hear a loud crash that sounds as if the ship is breaking apart.  But, other than those situations, we don’t give it much thought.

Penguins frequently preen to ensure the oil they get from their oil glands is evenly distributed to ensure they’re waterproof.
Fortunately, as we’ve mentioned in the past neither of us suffers from seasickness and have never used any medication or worn any type of a patch to prevent the awful malady.

The little dots are King Penguins.  It’s hard to believe there are so many.
Today, is my last day on the antibiotics for my knee (much better now) and I’ve yet to have a glass of red wine as suggested by the ship’s doctor…no alcohol during the treatment  Had I been able to imbibe, I think I would have abstained last night knowing alcohol could contribute to a bout of seasickness.  Why take the risk?
Two large Petrol Birds spreading their wings on the beach.

After a fitful night of intermittent sleep, awakened numerous times by uproarious swells, banging everything around in the cabin, we both feeling relatively chipper and excited for what is yet to come…hopefully, not more bad weather.

Penguins and seals seem to cohabitate well together.
The captain decided we’d have to forgo a landing at Elephant Island due to the weather and we’ve continued on to other stopping points, two of which we are scheduled to visit today, two small islands in the Antarctic Peninsula.  However, neither are optimistic that such a landing will be possible based on the rocking and rolling we’re doing at present. 
This massive King Penguin colony is at the base of a glacier.


Taking passengers out on the Zodiac boats in highs seas is definitely out of the question.  Gee…we haven’t even done the Drake Passage yet, which we’ll sail through on our return route to Ushuaia toward the end of the cruise. 

Supposedly, this area where the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans meet in Antarctica are the roughest waters in the world.  If it’s as rough as it can be, at least all of us passengers have “got our sea legs” and are mentally and physically prepared for this eventuality. 

A pup seal sleeping while sitting up.

We’ve made a few videos of the rough seas but won’t be able to upload them until we return to Buenos Aires next week which we hope to do. The Wi-Fi signal isn’t good enough to upload videos. So stay tuned for them in a week or so.

Also, we’ve made a big decision these past few days.  We aren’t going to keep the parkas and the waterproof clothing we purchased and ship them back to the US.  My pants were too big and although the parkas the ship gave us, are of great quality, it makes no sense to pay hundreds of dollars to have them sent to the US. 

Standing among the King Penguins was an experience we’ll always remember.

We may never decide to embark on a cold weather journey in the future and most likely, if we did, we’d purchase what we’d need for that expedition.  As a result, we’ll leave here considerably “lighter” and won’t have to pay for excess baggage when we head from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires, as we did on the flight to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires. 

Leaving these items behind will also save us considerable time while in Buenos Aires when we have to repack all the items they’ve stored for us at the hotel.
With warmer temperatures, penguins congregate in the shallow water to stay cool.
We’ll be keeping a few sweatshirts and sweaters and each of the under layers similar to workout pants, since they’ll be days it will be very cool in South Africa during their winter months (opposite from US summer) over the next year.  We’ll certainly be able to wear those items there, disposing of them once we are done in Africa.
There are a number of Elephant Seals in Saint Andrews Bay, mostly females since they males, after breeding head back out to sea.  The males aren’t involved in the care of the pups.
Today’s photos are from Saint Andrews Bay, South Georgia Island, one of the most exciting landings we made.  Here’s some information about Saint Andrews from this site:
“Saint Andrews Bay is a bight 2 miles (3.2 km) wide, indenting the north coast of South Georgia immediately south of Mount Skittle. Probably first sighted by the British expedition under Cook which explored the north coast of South Georgia in 1775. The name dates back to at least 1920 and is now well established. On charts where abbreviations are used, the name may be abbreviated to St. Andrews Bay.
King penguins form huge breeding colonies – and the one at St Andrews Bay has 200,000 birds. Because of the long breeding cycle, colonies are continuously occupied.Ross Glacier which is nearby is retreating and leaving a gravel beach in its wake. Heaney Glacier and Cook Glacier also are in the vicinity.”
Once again, me and lots of penguins.
Originally, the above site listed the bay as having about 175,000 King Penguins but the naturalists on board the ship have informed us its now over 200,000 as the colonies continue to grow.
It took our breath away to see the vast expanse of King Penguins on this narrow strip of beach.  This is exactly what we’d hoped to see when we booked this cruise so many moons ago.
Female Elephant Seal lounging in the warmth of the sun.
As I attempt to finish today’s post while Tom is at a seminar, we’re supposed to arrive at our next landing in less than three hours.  With the rockin’ and rollin’, we’re amid now, it doesn’t seem possible, we’ll be able to get off the ship.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back with what has transpired during this massive storm.
Have a warm and safe day, wherever you may be! 
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Photo from one year ago today, February 1, 2017:

Sunny day scene overlooking the Huon River in Tasmania.  For more details, please click here.