Was It all an Antarctic Dream?
We departed Palmer Station in early February on the Laurence M. Gould (LMG) icebreaker ship. As we were leaving, Palmer scientists and staff took the "polar plunge" into the frigid waters to wish us a safe crossing through the Drake Passage.
Above is a movie created last November at Palmer Station depicting the ritualistic "Polar Plunge" for the LMG homebound passengers.
The Dread of the Drake
With an unforgiving storm on its way, the LMG immediately left the protective peninsular waters and entered the open sea. This meant that we had little time to get our sea legs before entering the infamous Drake Passage. Though ahead of the storm, we still encountered choppy 20 foot waves clearing the Southern Ocean and then three steady days of 60 knot winds. Needless to say, it wasn't a smooth ride and seasickness was almost inevitable.
After four days at sea, the winds finally diminished and we were able to safely move about the bow and deck outside. Nature's wrath had transformed into calmness and beauty as we approached the tip of South America.
A Bugger Reunion
We were able to meet up with our fifth member of the Buggers research team, Yuta Kawarasaki in Punta Arenas, Chile. He will be heading to Palmer Station, Antarctica on the next LMG cruise.
The End of the Road
Here is my favorite Antarctic landscape photo. I took it from Old Palmer Island near Palmer Station.
Eight days and 8,000 miles later, Dr. Lee, Dr. Denlinger, Dr. Goto and I safely made it back to Ohio. I was warmly greeted by my close family and friends with a surprise welcome home party in my hometown. It was wonderful mom:)
As I talked about my adventures, I quickly realized how my journey seemed dreamlike and nostalgic. Antarctica's unparalleled beauty, wildlife, and environment just tugs at your heart. One must experience it to know its profound effects on your mind and soul. If heaven on earth existed, it would be here.