"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Antarctic Journals, Afterword

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.

Reflections in glass.

Black-browed albatross.


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It followed me home.  Can I keep it?


  1. I'm kinda' sorry the trip is over but I can always go back and check out your photos. Great blog....maybe you should do the book like your other one for your own personal collection.

  2. Am in the looooooooooooooooong process, RIlly. They really are work- and time-intensive.

  3. Thank you for the honor of sharing your journey.

  4. WHEW .. AWESOME .. STUNNING .. PHENOMENAL .. BEYOND-THE-BEYOND .. WITHOUT EQUAL .. What you write and what you felt about this trip
    mirrors what I wrote and what I felt about my first trip to India in October of 1990 .. NOW .. twenty two years later .. those exact and those precise feelings REMAIN WITH ME .. I have not yet left for this upcoming tenth (10th) trip next Monday the 28th and I already (1) want to stay longer and (2) already want to make yet an eleventh (11th) trip. This is germane as follows: YOU TOO may now have a life-long yearning or should I write obsession to return that will not simply and quietly fade away. You too may find as I do that .. to your frustration .. you will not be able to adequately explain-away your obsession. What a joy this has been following along behind you !! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR THIS GIFT !!
    Godspeed from Cap and from Patti !!

  5. Splendid retrospective "Afterward." From your very first post, your blog has grown and blossomed into a -- I was going to say a beautiful rose like one of those in the Buenos Aires park -- but I think it's become more like a giant Sequoia. Kudos, Gully, and much respect.

  6. You, your photos and your writing are precious. I'm so glad to have you for a friend.

  7. almost sorry it's over as we looked forward to your blog everyday. But we are glad you are home safe. An incredible experience and we were thrilled and honored to have been invited. B & B