Ushuaia, Argentina

Nov 28, 2017 - National Geographic Orion

Three weeks ago, we cast off from this very pier, trembling with anticipation of what was to come.  None of us could have imagined the trip ahead. Have we really come this far in so short a time? One loses a sense of time on an expedition. Instead of 3,725 nautical miles, it was ten million waves…

Or was it the few thousand icebergs passing the windows; some so huge they earn a name; most simply beautiful, unique and anonymous.  How do we account for a single morning with half a million King penguins and two thousand fur seals all celebrating the dawn?

How many passing albatross constitute five hundred and four hours? Days begin not with a sunrise, but by the “good morning” from a soft voice on the PA system. At one point, darkness eluded our days, dusk turns to dawn in the blink of a fur seal’s eye.

Even a skilled penguin counter would utterly fail to estimate the total number penguins we have seen since climbing the gangway in Ushuaia. Count the muddy web feet squishing through the guano and divide by two, then multiply by the passing flocks of Pintado petrels…

This voyage began with a ship full of strangers with little in common other than a desire to explore. As the National Geographic Orion sails west down the Beagle Channel, she returns to Argentina filled with a single family, one hundred and seventy-seven brothers and sisters brought together by a place called Antarctica.

Tomorrow will be a day of farewells, of hugs and tears and handshakes, and slowly we will each fly off in our own directions - like wandering albatrosses, looking for new horizons…

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About the Author

Doug Gould

Expedition Leader

Travel and adventure were an integral part of Doug’s upbringing in a small town on the south shore of Long Island, New York. Growing up on the Great South Bay, his family claims Doug learned to sail before he learned to walk. Whether it was camping, sailing, birding, traveling across country or spending most of fifth grade living in Europe, Doug’s formative years left him with a love of wildlife, the outdoors, and a desire to keep moving. 

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