PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Antarctica Journey, Day 7

This morning, they had no plans for a zodiac cruise and instead told us to go outside and watch for whales. These people know what they’re talking about. From the moment we sat at breakfast, we saw whales all around us, mainly humpback. The pictures aren’t fantastic but it was incredible to watch them breach and put their tails up and see large schools of them. I used a couple of Janel’s because she has a better iPhone.

I ended up the 10th floor, where people would go from side to side as they saw the whales and point them out. It was a real bonding experience.

There were a couple of excellent presentations. One on calories and exploration explained how the English and the Norwegians had different approaches to the quest to get to the South Pole.

The Norwegians were more focused on taking people who were practical, like bringing skiers who were physically fit and younger, but not as educated, learning from their mistakes, focusing on logistics, bringing dogs with the help with transport and getting as much information as they could, from people with histories of being in the out of doors.

The English on the other hand, focused on taking people who were scientists or people who  were considered important because their focus was on conquest. They were more into new ideas and didn’t want to use old techniques like dogs. They didn’t want to take advice from anyone but rather do things the way they thought works best.  In the end, the English group led by Robert Falcon Scott died, and the Norwegian group, led by Roald Amundson, made it to the South Pole. Arrogance kills.

In addition, Scott and his crew did not put on weight for the trip. Had they put on another 10 kilograms, they likely would not have died. For some reason, I find this very vindicating.

The other presentation was on the history of the various  explorers who have come here. The most memorable anecdote from that presentation was that Ernesat Shackleton, who is one of the most famous English explorers, died near the South Georgian Islands, and his family said bury him there, as that’s where he belongs. I don’t think they liked his exploring.

After lunch, I watched the seal video that I had missed. The part of that that was most interesting was that the main seal, who is called the seal master, has 100 wives and battles at least 100 other males every year to maintain control of the beach. The animal kingdom is utterly fascinating.

We also had our one walkabout on Danko Island. It included a walk of about a mile up a glacier. The view was spectacular. As well as the opportunity to see the penguin highways, we were able to get close to the penguins, but not closer than 15 feet if we could avoid it, which sometimes we could not.

It was an arduous walk and very icy and at times, you would get stuck in the ice. Organizers had warned us that there were crevasses and either side, so we needed to be extremely careful. The walk down was even more intense because of the ice, and as a result of being warned about the crevasses, I resisted the urge to just sit on my butt and slide down.

When I got to the bottom and I looked back up, I felt a great deal of satisfaction. I am glad that I am pushing myself to try every experience available and get as close to nature as I can. These opportunities to see the penguins up close and personal is a dream come true, and the ability to do this truly is something I will never take for granted. I also remain in all of the explorers, and all that they did when they first came here.

When we returned, I went to the lounge to watch the last part of the Vikings game. The YouTube TV was not the best, and it cut in and out, but no one can ever say that I am a fair weather fan.

I am finishing this after dinner. Actually, I’m finishing it for the second time because I accidentally deleted a whole portion of it. We go camping in about an hour, and I am assuming camping will be an entire post of its own.


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