I saw hundreds of thousands of penguins in Antarctica. I saw thousands of icebergs. I even saw hundreds of penguins on icebergs. But this sole Adelie penguin on an iceberg in Antarctica was the most captivating of all. My jaw dropped. I’d been watching colonies of penguins at Brown Bluff make their way, hop by excruciating hop, up a mountainside to nesting grounds. They were ungainly. They often looked as if they were on the verge of tumbling back down the rocky scree. But maintaining their balance on an outcropping of rock is one thing; hopping to the top of a slick, near vertical iceberg is quite another. One of most intriguing mysteries of my trip to Antarctica will always be how this lone penguin made it to the top of this iceberg.
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Deception Island, the first expedition of my Antarctica cruise, lived up to its name in every way. From afar it looked like a solid chunk of barren rock, but when we circled around to the back side its high cliffs fell away to the sea. A narrow channel led through the break in the cliffs. Within was a flooded caldera – an interior lagoon that had formed when this shield volcano blew its top. The channel itself was deceptive. It looked wide enough, but our captain explained that an enormous submerged rock lay just eight feet below the surface in the middle of the channel. Not to be deterred, he deftly navigated into the caldera with just a few feet to spare. The interior of the caldera was quiet and peaceful, with barely a breeze. Yet we were floating atop an active volcano that had erupted as recently as 1970…and 1969…and 1967! Gulp. Read More
In 2018 I was invited to be interviewed for Marc Miller’s very interesting Career Pivot podcast. The subject, “Repurpose Your Career,” might have been custom made for me, since I walked away from 36 years of corporate life to begin a life of travel and blogging. Recently, Marc contacted me to find out how I was faring. We did a second, briefer interview, where we discussed what it’s like to live in Thailand during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Marc merged the two interviews into one and has made them available here. I just listened to the entire encore interview and was more than a little amazed at the breadth of subjects we covered – everything from Read More
Wilhelmina Bay in Antarctica was a serene study in blue and white, with barely a ripple on the water. We were motoring slowly around the bay, soaking in the stunning scenery, when the captain of our Zodiac suddenly cut the motor. He pointed to the starboard. “Over there! A pod of Humpback whales!” I didn’t have his practiced eye. I scanned the surface of the water, looking for any indication of whales. Suddenly, I spotted Read More
I woke at 5 a.m., drew the drapes to my cabin balcony, and gasped. Overnight, we had sailed up the west side of the Weddell peninsula to Paradise Harbour, Antarctica. Named by ancient whalers for its protected anchorage, the cove could not have had a more appropriate moniker. The sea was a vast sheet of polished silver. In the ethereal dawn light, it reflected mirror images of jagged black mountains jutting from snow-carpeted flanks. Intermittent patches of sea ice drifted by, glistening pearls cast upon the water. Moments later, a fiery sun crested the mountains, burst through dull grey clouds, and turned the sky to cerulean. The sea deepened to the bluest blue I have ever seen, an indescribable shade hovering somewhere between ultramarine and lapis lazuli. This was not the kind of weather I had expected in Antarctica.
After a carb-laden breakfast, designed to provide extra energy against the polar cold, I struggled into cumbersome layers of protective clothing. Bundled up like the Abominable Snowman, I waddled down the gangway, gingerly made my way down the ship’s metal stairway, and stepped into a rubber Zodiac. Ten guests, one captain, and one guide, we motored away from the ship and into a sea littered with chunks of sea ice. The nose of our boat nudged aside pieces gigantic and tiny, ranging from brilliant white to deep blue, transparent to opaque. Read More
Recently, the Prime Minister of Thailand imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. throughout the country. He added that a 24-hour curfew was under consideration if the number of infected cases didn’t begin to drop below 100 per day. No one knew what that meant. Would we be required to stay inside our homes 24 hours per day? Could we still go for a walk if we practiced physical distancing? Even more importantly, could we still pick up groceries? With rumors flying and no concrete information available, I decided to play it safe. I raced to the grocery store the very next morning to stock up.
I wasn’t the only one who was alarmed. The store was crammed with shoppers, all of whom had the same idea. I raced around, filling my cart with fresh-baked bread for the freezer, pasta, more rice (I probably now have a two-year supply), and most importantly, stacks of packs of sliced cheese. Though I don’t often use paper towels, I threw in a double-roll pack, just in case, and then eyeballed the toilet paper. I’m down to a roll and a half at home, but in three years, I’ve only bought one package of toilet paper. The only reason I ever use toilet paper is to blow my nose. And as you can see by the above photo, there’s no lack of toilet paper on our shelves. Read More