The Argentine transportation strike hadn't finished messing with us yet. Though it allowed us an extra day in Ushuaia, much to my pleasant surprise, the simple fact that we would not get back to Buenos Aires on Tuesday the 20th seriously bollixed up the travel reservations of many who were anxious to get home for Thanksgiving.
|With Patricio, one of the Three Gauchos.|
|We woke to snow in Ushuaia on the day we were to leave.|
|All the folks who provided educational lectures and the ship lined up to say goodbye.|
|Ushuaia airport terminal.|
|The ashes of the strikers' bonfire.|
Rather than flying to Buenos Aires on Tuesday, now we were all leaving Ushuaia on Wednesday morning, due to no domestic flights on Tuesday, strike day. So there we sat at the Ushuaia airport. A flight was called and all the early-flight folks lined up.
Oops. This was the late flight, but where was the early flight? Turned out the early flight was the milk run, with many stops along the way.
In Buenos Aires, we were loaded onto coaches and given a nice tour of the city, including a beautiful park where a rose-growing contest was in full bloom. Our flight wasn’t until 11 p.m., so we had a lot of time. Sure enough, we managed to get stuck in the Ninth of July Avenue afternoon traffic jam.
At the airport, we went looking for something to eat. Kathy picked up the tab for this meal, only to discover that the server had accidentally mixed up our bill with another table’s and charged her the wrong amount. A half hour later, we think it was straightened out.
|Buenos Aires International terminal|
|Lost in translation: I ordered what I thought would be a chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato, accompanied by fries.|
|Saying goodbye to Kathy in Los Angeles.|
Thanksgiving dinner for me was chicken nachos at the Twelfth Man pub in the Seattle airport.
|Flying over Yosemite Park. Half Dome is almost in the exact center of this photo.|
|Space Needle in Seattle.|
|Thanksgiving dinner in the Seattle Airport.|
Then came a flight--my fifth in two days-- to Anchorage, an overnight there, and the drive to Moose Pass on Friday.
|A gorgeous sunrise over the Chugach Mountains in Anchorage.|
|Raven on a streetlamp.|
|Just one part of the drive home.|
The temperature when I got home was 12 degrees below zero. This was FORTY degrees COLDER than Antarctica.
This entire journey was extra-special. To trace parts of Shackleton’s route, except for getting ice-bound in the Weddell Sea, and to have an understanding of what those men endured, was an unforgettable treat. The storm off South Georgia? How else to grasp what Shackleton suffered and accomplished in the voyage of the tiny James Caird? Even experiencing that storm on a ship 350 feet long was adventurous.
I told my friend Kathy that Base Brown on the Antarctic mainland was my favorite landing. She wrote, “I think about the places we were, and I keep coming back to Base Brown.”
What it is about that place, I can’t describe. Maybe it was the snow falling, the fog drifting in and out, revealing and disguising, that added a charismatic ambiance to a place few are fortunate enough to visit.
Whatever it was, it’s with me forever. Would I return? In a heartbeat. Next time, I will choose a voyage that goes directly to Antarctica. I would not have missed the Falklands and especially South Georgia for anything, but Antarctica has a special siren call for me.
Lately, I seem to see penguins everywhere—on the covers of magazines, the back page of a catalog, in the comic strips. And there’s something about penguins, something that makes me smile every single time I think about them.