It's Antarctica season! I don’t know that we’ll ever fully comprehend that we’ve made it to Antarctica. When we see or hear something about someone’s journey to that mysterious continent, we still find ourselves picking our jaws up off the ground and reminding ourselves that we, too, have made the trek.
As is the case with many travel fanatics, we knew early on that we wanted to make it to all seven continents. Until a couple of years ago – when we started to really remodel our world – neither of us would have believed that we’d actually make it to Antarctica before retirement.
1 part world exploration.
We found that, for us, the trek to Antarctica is all about the feeling it brings up - the feeling that you are on a true adventure. The days spent crossing the often brutal Drake Passage make it easy to feel as though you are an early explorer discovering new territory; there's a lot of anticipation all up on that boat!
So, when we talk about our adventure to this windy, cold and dry continent, we can never forget the feeling of being on that listing ship, wondering what we were about to uncover. The days crossing that unforgiving and expansive passage between the tip of South America (Cape Horn) and the first signs of Antarctica left a lot of time for that kid-at-Christmas feeling to take center stage. By the time we were set to arrive in Southern Ocean waters we were wound up like spinning tops.
1 part life examination.
Whats more, on this journey, we were also making big "what's next' decisions regarding our return to Seattle. Intense, huh? From the journal:
I think it is fitting that we are culminating this multi-month journey with such a grand (literally and metaphorically) finale. Making it to Antarctica is not only the 7th continent to be checked off of the list but also the closing of a huge chapter in our lives. We have spent a lot of time discovering new things, learning about one another, seeing different countries and exploring different cultures. Tomorrow, we reach Antarctica and a huge milestone in our travel goals. More importantly, we have reached a huge milestone in our life goals. We are truly ready for the next chapter which, I think, will be less about discovery and more about putting to good use all the knowledge we have amassed up to this point.
1 part unhinged excitement.
The restless night before our arrival ranks as one of the most thrilling in the NVR guys' history. More from the journal:
A special entry for a very special day. Today we woke up in the early, early morning (did we even sleep?) to the jarring of the ship as we continued to navigate our way across the last bits of Drake Passage. We got up not much later and ran up to the top deck to see the first signs of Antarctica awaiting us. Although, technically, we are just at the tail end of the Shetland Islands, we were trying to wrap our minds around what we were about to see. Up on the blistering cold deck, we were greeted by icebergs appearing in the distance. ICEBERGS!
We made the decision to take a scenic cruise rather than a zodiac/land cruise. In the end, we were more than happy with the decision. We spent four days cruising all around the region. We spent as much time as our bodies could bear out on the deck, enjoying this desert continent, about 95% of which is covered by ice. The tundra vegetation and fauna were a marvel. Another highlight was the experts onboard, filling our brains with answers to all of the questions we had about what we were seeing. Antarctica based field researchers even came on board for live-chat about their work and experiences. Incredible. More from the journal:
It’s absolutely crazy that we are here and that we are seeing this magnificence. Penguins are everywhere. Albatrosses surround us as they use the ship as a shield from the wind. It’s all so perspective altering. Our seventh continent - a bookend, a transition and the preface to a new chapter. What a bucket-load of mind jumbling stuff this entire journey represents.
The impact of Antarctica.
As you can tell, the best part about Antartica, for us, wasn’t merely seeing the white continent, but, rather, what the continent inspired and changed within us. Being embedded in that kind of nature for a few days was the ultimate lubrication for our brains' idea factories. More from the journal
Pinch me (better yet, punch me). We just experienced Antarctica for several days and now have the pleasure of spending more time enjoying the sights of Patagonic Chile and Argentina. Last evening we sailed the Beagle Channel. We cannot believe the magnitude of this part of the world. We feel so lucky to be able to enjoy it all from the comfort of this ship (which, happily, keeps us from our ususal mode of getting too adventurous and too ambitious). We can simply “be” without a ton of pressure - without a lot of conflicting distractions. Not a bad state to be in as we prepare for our return
Our time visiting Antarctica was the perfect preamble to our return to Seattle, and the complete rejiggering of our lives. We'll always remember this expedition for providing the perfect awe-inspiring setting for prompting equally as wonderful change.
Have you been to Antarctica or is it on your travel dream list?