Okay, I admit it, I have been somewhat lazy about my blog since we got home. And you are probably wondering what happened at the party in the galley, and whether we got home safely and stuff like that.
The party was great. Dr. Twining wore gym shorts with his big insulated boots and his big Antarctic down parka with the fur hood (which he took off after a while because he was dying from heat prostration). He had the best costume. A bunch of the biologists got together and made this awesome punch out of raspberry Kool-Aid and apple chunks. And I don’t know who exactly but SOMEBODY(S) went up on the helodeck with a couple of big bowls of cream and a whole bunch of chocolate and made chocolate ice cream by cooling the bowl down with liquid nitrogen. I am totally bummed that nobody told me about this, so I didn’t get to watch them do it! I would swear an oath on any dead cat that this was totally the best ice cream I have ever eaten. Ash and Rainy agree.
The next day, we got to Punta Arenas in the morning, and the first thing we did was take our extreme weather gear back to the warehouse. Then we took a walk all around Punta Arenas. Dude. I never thought walking could feel so good. I guess all that time on the ship, my walking muscles were wishing I would use them more. They sure liked getting me around Punta Arenas. We went to the main street and bought presents for our parents. We bought some Patagonia chocolate, and some scarves and hats, which you can find there on every street corner. We spent all of our Chilean pesos. I am sorry to say that the dogs of Punta Arenas were nowhere to be found, which was just as well, because it was way too cold out for any sane dog.
The ride home on the plane was a major pain because it took so long, and we were either hanging out in airports for hours or riding planes for hours. When we finally saw our parents waiting for us, it was like…dude…major hug fest. After we got our suitcases, we walked outside and went, “Whoa!” because it was so hot. No more petrels or icy wind. We were home, and the cicadas were singing, and the world was much greener than I remembered.
The first thing I did when we got to our house was go in the back yard and pick a plum from our tree. Did it taste good? Let me just say that plum was a lot plummer than I remembered plums being, too. I ate about four before I stopped. Now I am sitting here typing this, and Strike is sitting across the table from me, staring with his little black eyes. But he is just a souvenir now, not an avatar anymore. You probably won’t be surprised when I say that’s fine with me.
And now, I am going outside to play catch with Ash till the fireflies come out. Then we Three Musketeers will probably capture a few of them temporarily, just in our hands, for scientific observation. And after we let them go, we will sit on the dark porch and speak of icebergs and waves and Antarctic jellyfish and other strange and significant things.
[This post written 6/29/08; position: lat -52'59", long -66'29"; temp 4C; wind chill -11C]
So…it was not exactly a busy day today. Well, back up a minute. It was a busy and somewhat nerve-wracking day for the scientists, because they are getting all of their samples ready for shipping, which is a very big deal, since if the samples don’t make it back to the U.S., or they are spoiled when they arrive, that is a huge loss. So they are kind of in nail-biting mode. But for Ash and Rainy and me, it was not busy. We read some more of Treasure Island. We watched Part One of Lord of the Rings on the big TV in the NBP’s movie room, which has big fluffy chairs and holders for drinks and popcorn!
But also, there was sunshine! And it isn’t all that cold out anymore. We went out on deck, and I didn’t even need a hat. Well, not at first anyway. Rainy and I had our cameras. There were a few petrels chasing the ship, as usual. One of the things we have been doing the last couple of days is trying to get good pictures of them, which is WAY hard. Especially the Cape petrels, which fly really fast and can change directions in a split second. I have hundreds of rotten pictures of flying petrels by now. Today I almost got a totally awesome picture of a giant petrel. See above. This is my best petrel picture by far. It was also my last chance, so I guess this one’s as good as it’s going to get. Dude. If only I had gotten its beak in the picture! As you can see, giant petrels aren’t exactly beautiful, but I like them anyway, because they fly slowly. They are like the 737s of the petrel world. Goodbye petrels. I will miss you all. And a special goodbye to that snow petrel that stared at me the day the big iceberg calved. Petrels fly fast and far. I guess it could be anywhere in Antarctica by now!
Continuing to show you my favorite trip pictures taken by other people, here is one taken by Paul McGill. The guy in the Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses is Jake Ellena, the giant slingshot guy. (And also the official Keeper of the Data, and the bird survey guy.) He is also The Dude. I mean. This picture was taken on the bridge on June 7. The wind chill where Jake was standing was -24C. He is a very cool guy in more ways than one.
That’s it for now. I don’t want to be late for the party in the galley tonight! We are all supposed to wear pieces of extreme weather clothing we were issued but never wore. Hmmm. I dunno…I think I wore everything. A lot. Ash is going to wear his sea boots and Rainy is going to wear her Yazoo cap.