Were you hoping I forgot?

I think these are my favorite kind of penguins. These are Chinstraps…I love their little pink feet and their black line of feathers under their chins. This is a rookery on Hannah Point. There was one breeding pair of Macaroni penguins in this colony and we were lucky enough to see 1 of the pair.

Doesn’t he look like a crazy orchestra conductor? I love those yellow brow feathers! I thought it was cool that penguins of different types can co-exist very peacefully.

Finally, we got to Antarctica itself. It was barely 4:30 am when this picture was taken and it’s as bright as day. We had a gorgeous, sunny morning and Nancy and I couldn’t wait to get up to the deck to see the place:

I didn’t even brush my hair!! The expedition leader happened to be walking past our cabin when we were crowding each other at the port hole and told us later, “You sounded like excited school girls! It was lovely to hear.”

Well worth the early wake up call.

WTF??

Is spring coming to every corner of the world but mine? Jillian and I went to a workshop this weekend and it snowed, rained, or sleeted the whole damn time. I’m cranky as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

That is all.

South Georgia

This is the cemetery at Grytviken where Ernest Shakelton is buried.

It’s a lovely little place, very green…only if you don’t think about the whaling station that sits right next to it.

The people were really nice and have a terrific little museum there. It’s very nicely done with good taxidermy and great pictures of the animals that live in the area. However, when I think about all the whales that were killed, it gave me a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. I couldn’t get off that place fast enough.

Here’s a typical zodiac landing:

Every landing we had was wet. Waterproof boots and pants are a must. This was a relatively easy landing – nice smooth beach. Some of them had big slimy boulders and we landing in big waves – not so nice.

Many years ago, I had a friend who have a 15 minute hospital rule. If there wasn’t a hospital within 15 minutes of wherever she wanted to go – she didn’t go. Jane, I’m pretty sure this is outside of the 15-minute zone:

This is Cooper Bay. It was a little protected cove with tons of penguins and more than enough fur seals. The views were overwhelming. The surf was very rough on this particular day and on our way back to the ship, we were heading out of the protected area and crashed into a 20 foot wave. Everyone got soaked (I could feel the water trickling down the inside of my jacket). I wanted to turn around and do it again – more fun than a roller coaster!

And lest you thought I forgot, more of my tuxedoed friends:

Baby Pictures…

This is a young King Penguin. All penguins have to stay on land until their down falls off and their feathers are all grown in. They aren’t water proof until their feathers all come in. When explorers first saw these rookeries, they thought there were 2 different species of birds. They look so silly – especially the ones who just have bits of down clinging to their heads or backs.

Not a baby, but a full grown female Elephant Seal. The naturalists called them ‘blubber slugs.’ They don’t move very fast on land, but they’re quite elegant when they swim. This one got a little crabby, but put her head back down and went back to sleep right after this picture. Poor thing was just worn out.

From our stop on Prion Island in South Georgia, a gorgeous Wandering Albatross. This bird was sitting on its nest when we came up and its mate flew in right after we arrived. They do a bit of their mating dance to make sure they really know each other and then the one sitting on the nest flies away to feed. This bird was unfolding its wings in preparation for flight.

Demonstrating the wingspan of a Wandering Albatross – they can get up to 11 feet wide! Unfortunately, this bird was dead. Chris (the one in the middle holding the bird) came across it while we were wandering. It was an apparently healthy, young bird and there were no signs of trauma to let him know how it died. He carried it back to the ship as our next stop was Gritviken (a former whaling station) and they had a bird specialist there. The Albatross population is shrinking and there doesn’t seem to be any definitive reason why.

Okay, last gratuitous penguin shot:

This is a Gentoo Penguin. Don’t you just love his crazy, orange feet?

Slowly, slowly

I have finally put all my pictures in order and I’m actually showing them to people. I really don’t like obligating people to look at my vacation photos, but I think it was such an unusual trip that people are genuinely interested (or maybe I’m delusional). In any event – here are a few more:

A view of some of the homes in Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. It was a lovely warm day when we were there, but it did shower on us while we were walking about town. We managed to snag some Falkland’s roving at the woolen shop and even found some handspun to take home.

These were my first icebergs (on the right). Actually, it’s one big iceberg (in the middle) – you can’t see in the picture, but they’re connected below the water. The land masses are called Shag Rock. There’s a huge colony of Shags that live and breed here. I couldn’t help giggling everytime they said “Shag Rock” over the intercom. Yes, I’m the mother of a 13-year-old who loves Austin Powers.

These are fur seals. Yes, they look cute and cuddly. Yes, clubbing them over the head for their pelts is wrong. Make no mistake, these are the nastiest, smelliest creatures on the planet. We had a huge lecture about these animals before our landing on this beach. We were going to see a very large King Penguin rookery, but first we had to land about a mile away and hike over the beach – through the fur seals to get there.

The naturalist told us “It’s not the fur seal in front of you to watch out for…it’s the one behind you. Don’t back up when they charge you.” As a result, I was terrified. These things will snap at you for even looking at them cross eyed. Plus, they’ll chase you. Was wading through all that worth it?

200,000 breading pairs…you bet it was worth it.