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 – January 30, 2018…Grytviken, South Georgia…An abandoned whaling town…Sailing around the storm…

This group of Elephant Seals found comfort in sleeping together in a ditch.

The world…it baffles, it tantalizes, it enlightens and it surprises in one way or another almost every day.  It spares nothing in attempting to capture our attention while we, in our amateurish or professional manner, attempt to capture it in photos, in hopes of retaining memories to last a lifetime. 

Some of the King Penguins were molting while others were not.

This trip to Antarctica has been at the top of our list for photo ops, (along with our upcoming adventures in Africa).  Antarctica keeps “giving and giving.”  And, in our less-than-professional photo-taking manner we thrive on these opportunities with such gusto we can hardly contain ourselves. 
We walked along this beach in the rain to the small settlement ahead.

Taking photos is important to us in order to be able to share them with all of our worldwide readers and also to maintain for our own reference, our family and for generations yet to come.
Tom, with an iceberg in the background.
The younger seals seem eager to pose for a photo but the older males chase after us, prepared to attack if necessary.  We had to scare a few off by clapping our hands and yelling.

Above all, standing on the very ground where so much is happening takes our breath away as we live in the magic of the moment, anticipating nothing more than what is before our eyes.  With heart pounding enthusiasm, we embrace every moment, later reviewing our photos, hoping to find those special captures that truly tell the story of our current experiences.

A young seal sleeping atop a plant with a grouping of Elephant Seals in the background.
Sure, an expedition cruise is not expected to be perfect.  We’ve had to forgo three landings due to bad weather, we’d looked forward to on the itinerary.  Last night, with bad weather on the horizon, we had to sail away missing two landings scheduled for today. 
A lone Fur Seal posing for a photo.


Instead, the captain decided we’d sail directly to the Antarctic Peninsula where we’ll spend the next several days, finally amid the massive icy environment we’ve so longed to see.  As a result, we’re at sea today.

She was so relaxed, a bit of drool dripped from her mouth.  A bath would be nice.
Yesterday morning, we embarked on the Zodiac boats to Grytviken, South Georgia, an old whaling village since gone to ruin.  As we wandered through the historic town, we couldn’t help but feel sorrowful for the millions of whales that were slaughtered for financial gain. 
This is the first of a few icebergs we spotted in Grytviken and the first so far on the cruise.  Guaranteed, more will follow.


Evidence of this travesty is easily evidenced in this small settlement with the remnants of the storage tanks and processing machines and equipment.  Among the ruins were multiple shipwrecks photos of which we’ve included here today.
This Elephant Seal was sleeping in the ditch without his friends.

There remains a small group of 10 to 20 people that occupy the location during the summer months, (less in the winter months) to facilitate ship passengers stopping to inspect the settlement. 

We were served a shot glass of Irish whiskey with the suggestion to take a sip and pour the remainder over Shackleton’s grave, a local tradition.

There’s a shop, a church, a post office and a few museums, all of which we visited during our few hours at the location.  It was interesting and quite unusual, especially the many Fur Seals and Elephant Seals that live amongst the ruins of a business long ago abandoned.

No sip of Irish whiskey for me but I poured mine over Shackleton’s gravesite.

Here is information about Grytviken, South Georgia Island from this site:
Grytviken is a settlement on the island of South Georgia, part of a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic. The settlement’s name is Swedish in origin, meaning “the Pot Bay”. The name was coined in 1902 by the Swedish Antarctic Expedition and documented by the Swedish surveyor Johan Gunnar Andersson, after the expedition found old English try pots used to render seal oil at the site.
It is the best harbour on the island, consisting of a bay (King Edward Cove) within a bay (Cumberland East Bay). The site is quite sheltered, provides a substantial area of flat land suitable for building, and has a good supply of fresh water.
Her companion is fanning her with widespread fins and tail.

The settlement at Grytviken was established on 16 November 1904 by the Norwegian sea captain Carl Anton Larsen, as a whaling station for his Compañía Argentina de Pesca (Argentine Fishing Company).  It was phenomenally successful, with 195 whales taken in the first season alone. The whalers used every part of the animals – the blubber, meat, bones, and viscera were rendered to extract the oil, and the bones and meat were turned into fertilizer and fodder. Elephant seals were also hunted for their blubber.

Around 300 men worked at the station during its heyday, operating during the southern summer from October to March. A few remained over the winter to maintain the boats and factory. Every few months a transport ship would bring essential supplies to the station and take away the oil and other produce. The following year the Argentine Government established a meteorological station.

An adorable seal climbed a wall to see what the commotion was all about.
Carl Anton Larsen, the founder of Grytviken, was a naturalized Briton born in Sandefjord, Norway. In his application for British citizenship, filed with the magistrate of South Georgia and granted in 1910, Captain Larsen wrote: “I have given up my Norwegian citizen’s rights and have resided here since I started whaling in this colony on the 16 November 1904 and have no reason to be of any other citizenship than British, as I have had and intend to have my residence here still for a long time.” His family in Grytviken included his wife, three daughters and two sons.
The first iceberg we’d seen since leaving Ushuaia a week ago today.  More will surely follow as we head to the Antarctica Peninsula.
As the manager of Compañía Argentina de Pesca, Larsen organized the construction of Grytviken, a remarkable undertaking accomplished by a team of sixty Norwegians between their arrival on 16 November and commencement of production at the newly built whale-oil factory on 24 December 1904. Larsen chose the whaling station’s site during his 1902 visit while in command of the ship Antarctic of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition (1901–03) led by Otto Nordenskjöld.
On that occasion, the name Grytviken (“The Pot Cove”) was given by the Swedish archaeologist and geologist Johan Gunnar Andersson who surveyed part of Thatcher Peninsula and found numerous artefacts and features from sealers’ habitation and industry, including a shallop (a type of small boat) and several try-pots used to boil seal oil. One of those try-pots, having the inscription ‘Johnson and Sons, Wapping Dock, London’ is preserved at the South Georgia Museum in Grytviken.
Me, with an iceberg in the background.
Managers and other senior officers of the whaling stations often had their families living together with them. Among them was Fridthjof Jacobsen whose wife Klara Olette Jacobsen gave birth to two of their children in Grytviken; their daughter Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen was the first child ever born south of the Antarctic Convergence, on 8 October 1913. Several more children have been born in South Georgia: recently even aboard visiting private yachts.
The whale population in the seas around the island was substantially reduced over the following sixty years until the station closed in December 1966, by which time the whale stocks were so low that their continued exploitation was unviable. Even now, the shore around Grytviken is littered with whale bones and the rusting remains of whale oil processing plants and abandoned whaling ships. 
A big male Fur Seal and perhaps his offspring who he was training to be growly at visitors.
Ernest Shackleton Grytviken is closely associated with the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition set out from London on 1 August 1914, to reach the Weddell Sea on 10 January 1915, where the pack ice closed in on their ship, Endurance. The ship was broken by the ice on 27 October 1915. The 28 crew members managed to flee to Elephant Island off Antarctica, bringing three small boats with them.
Shackleton and five other men managed to reach the southern coast of South Georgia in the James Caird. They arrived at Cave Cove, and camped at Peggotty Bluff, from where they trekked to Stromness on the northeast coast. From Grytviken, Shackleton organized a rescue operation to bring home the remaining men.
An iceberg with our ship in the background.

He again returned to Grytviken, but posthumously. In 1922 he had died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the beginning of another Antarctic expedition. His widow chose South Georgia as his final resting place. His grave is located south of Grytviken, alongside those of whalers who had died on the island.

On 27 November 2011, the ashes of Frank Wild, Shackleton’s ‘right-hand man’, were interred on the right side of Shackleton’s grave-site. The inscription on the rough-hewn granite block set to mark the spot reads “Frank Wild 1873–1939, Shackleton’s right-hand man.” Wild’s relatives and Shackleton’s only granddaughter, the Hon Alexandra Shackleton, attended a service conducted by the Rev Dr. Richard Hines, rector of the Falkland Islands.
A whaling boat shipwreck.
The writer Angie Butler discovered the ashes in the vault of Braamfontein Cemetery, Johannesburg, while researching her book The Quest For Frank Wild. She said “His ashes will now be where they were always supposed to be. It just took them a long time getting there.”

Update on my knee:  It’s certainly not 100% yet.  Visited the doctor a second time for another round of a different antibiotic and more anti-inflammatory meds.  Its improving, albeit slowly. 

Another sad reminder that life for wildlife is not easy.

I can’t wait for this to be healed so I can stop thinking about it and, good grief, have a glass of wine!  But, I’ve only missed one outing (out of many more) which required a five km walk and Tom went ahead without me taking amazing photos.

As for today, right now I’m in the lounge on deck three while Tom is taking a much-needed nap.  It’s nearly 3:00 pm.  Since we’re at sea today, little is required other than to enjoy our new friends which is relatively easy to do in this beautiful environment.

The small Lutheran church in Grytviken, South Georgia.

Update on the pending rough seas:  The captain made a good decision when we forfeited two planned landings to instead sail directly to Elephant Island which we should reach sometime tomorrow.  The seas are rough and walking around the ship requires some holding on to one another, to walls, and to railings. 

But, in our usual way, neither of us are seasick but we suspect that some passengers may be feeling it when I’m only one of about eight passengers in the usually packed deck three lounge.  Due to the weakening Wi-Fi signal, I’m unable to enlarge a number of our photos to the size we always post. 

Whaling oil processing equipment.

Have a great day!  And again, no worries, if we aren’t here over the next few days.  It’s highly likely we won’t have a signal, the further south we sail.

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Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2017:
Wood handled tools for the “”barbie” we spotted at an outdoor flea market in Franklin, Tasmania.  For more photos, please click here.

How we’re spending the two month gap between two visits to Bali…Partial Itinerary…Moo…baa…neigh…

This is our favorite cow to visit when we’re on a walk.  She always sticks out her tongue and does a little dance when she see us.

When preparing yesterday’s post, we realized it may sound a bit confusing regarding our back and forth for two trips to Bali. The bulk of the decision to go back and forth revolved around the fact that Indonesia has strict visa regulations with stays only allowing for 30 days (with 60 days possible). We’ll figure that out soon.

Recently, these fillies/colts were born.

As a result, we thought it might clarify the plans we made for the almost two-month gap in between the two separate bookings for the same property. In part, the owners gave us an excellent price on the villa with a full staff but preferred to get more for the high season. 

The walk in the area is always lovely.

If we’d leave and return, they could get higher rates than we’re paying during the peak season, resulting in excellent pricing for us during the two separate visits on either end of the peak season.

Also, during this two-month gap, we found a two for one special on a Viking Mekong River cruise, providing we paid the cruise fare in full at the time of the booking which we were happy to do for the savings.

Cattle seem interested in humans as we’ve found on walks and drives through the countryside.

In these two transactions, we saved several thousand dollars for venues we may not have found affordable at the full rates and fares. The more countries we can visit at the best possible prices and terms the greater our worldwide experience. 

There are numerous varieties of long-horned cattle in New Zealand.

It’s not that we’re on a mission to visit every country in the world. It’s not practical in today’s world of war and terror.But, we are on a mission of visiting the countries we find interesting and enriching as we continue on our world journey.

The gap between the two Bali stays made sense when by coincidence and admittedly diligent planning and research, we’re not only excited about the time we’ll spend in Bali but also the two months in between and shortly thereafter, as shown below:
                                                                                         # days                        Dates





































































 Sydney Hotel 1  4/15/2016 – 4/16/2016 
Cruise –  Sydney to Singapore  14  RC Voyager of Seas   4/16/2016 – 4/30/2016 
 Bali House  59  4/30/2016 – 6/28/2016 
 Hotel Singapore 7  6/28/2016 – 7/5/2016 
 Hanoi Hotel 3  7/5/2016 – 7/8/2016 
 Cruise –  Hanoi to Ho Chi Min City  15  Viking Mekong    7/8/2016 –
7/22/2016 
 Phuket House  41  7/22/2016 –
9/1/2016 
 Bali House  59  9/1/2016 –
10/30/2016 
 Sydney Hotel  1  10/30/2016 –
10/31/2016 
 Cruise – Sydney to Perth  16  RC Radiance of the Seas   10/31/2016 – 11/16/2016 
 Cruise – Perth to Sydney  17  RC Radiance of the Seas   11/16/2016 – 12/3/2016 

Luckily, the time in Bali will be low-key and relaxing while the interim period will be a whirlwind of flights, hotels, cruises, and comings and goings. Having this hectic schedule is good for us when at times, we can easily fall into the “homebody” mode staying put in one spot for a while. 

Discovering these horned cattle was a first for us in New Zealand.

The above itinerary over a period of seven months requires seven flights, four of which we’ve yet to book. We have plenty of time to book the remaining flights.

Don’t get me wrong…we love quiet times in the country. Without a lazy bone in our bodies, we keep our days full of activities we love to do, ultimately highly fulfilling. 

Many cattle are dehorned.   But, we don’t believe that process is done on this breed.

Although it may appear we’re occasionally “couch potatoes” which on occasion we are, we’re actually quite active most days of the week, not unlike many of our readers, who say they’re busier in retirement than when they were working.

Young bulls down the road from our house.

Of course, living on this farm in itself provides enough daily stimulation, activity, and entertainment as we spend considerable time outdoors enjoying every single moment. 

They often approach to check us out.

With the diligent use of repellent I’m able to spend all the time I’d like outdoors, as was the case when we lived in South Africa, Kenya, and other parts of the world where mosquitoes, biting flies, and sandflies are an issue.

On our usual walk, Mount Taranaki with our favorite cow on the right and a few sheep who often baa at us.

Today, it’s raining with heavy winds with more rain in the forecast. As summer winds down in New Zealand, apparently the much-needed rains have arrived. Knowing this is good for all the grazing animals in the countryside, we’re happy to see the rain, greening their pastures.

Tomorrow, on the day of my birthday we have a planned evening out and a special story with new photos we hope our readers will find entertaining. Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2015:

It was one year ago today, we made the treacherous trek to the Queen’s Bath in Kauai, a known dangerous place to visit. Making our way down this area was challenging. Had we known how dangerous it was, we’d probably wouldn’t have done it. At times I grabbed any sturdy branch I could hold onto and when possible hung onto Tom to keep from falling. When we were done, I was glad to have challenged myself but also realized the practicality of such risky treks makes no sense at this age.  For more photos of Part 1 of this story, please click here.