Nov 22, 2018 - National Geographic Orion
Today I am thankful for a great many things. While the order of said thankfulness does not include my family (and my wish that they could be here with me today) it does reflect a very authentic list of things I look forward to every year.
#1: Being in Antarctica
#2: Zodiac cruising through the iceberg graveyard of Booth Island
#3: Transiting the Lemaire Channel
All three of those things were accomplished before noon today and, to do so early in the season when the waters of the Antarctic are still clear and the snow is still fresh and the sea ice is still abundant is absolutely priceless.
From the break of dawn, the landscape was alive. Low light filled the northern end of the horizon while the narrow gap known as the Lemaire Channel guided us south. A looming landscape of hanging glaciers and rock signaled our entry into the channel and 30 minutes later we were rounding the corner of Booth Island (the western flank of the Lemaire) with a labyrinth of sculpted icebergs in our path.
This was by no means a sight to fear but one to embrace. For 2 hours, our fleet of Zodiacs negotiated a veritable sculpture garden of ice upon crystal clear waters, incorporating not only penguins into the experience but our first crabeater and leopard seals as well. The perfect ice arch also made an appearance as if the perfect light, calm conditions and wildlife were not enough.
To top off the day we were able to extend the spirit of Thanksgiving to the ladies and gentlemen of Port Lockroy after an afternoon of them welcoming us into their lives/homes. Port Lockroy is the location of historic “Base A” and today serves as a museum (telling the story of the base) as well as a gift shop and one of the planets southern-most post offices.
Following our excursion, we were treated to a night of laughs and talent as the National Geographic Orion crew took the main lounge stage. In the truest sense of Thanksgiving, we were given the opportunity to share our home and our skills with others willing to do the same for us.
The only thing that could have made the day better was to have shared it with my family. But, to all my colleagues and ship-bound family around the world, Happy Thanksgiving!
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