I have been asked why I chose the Screen Name Penguin. Here is a partial answer:
On a recent trip to Antarctica I observed an albino penguin. I am no bird watcher or cataloger, but I was told by our ship’s Ornithologist this is quite a find. “A rare bird, indeed,’ he proclaimed. This penguin was among a colony of Adelies on Thorgenson Island, off the coast of the Ross peninsular. I have sailed the seven seas and landed on the seven continents, but this was a thrill. There were about four thousand Adelies in the colony; and a few assorted gulls and crabeater seals. Member of our expedition were not allowed to touch the penguins so the best approach was to sit on a rock and watch them do their thing. If God had not put the penguin on the earth, man could never have invented such delightful creatures. After this experience, I have became convinced that heaven consists of sitting on a cloud and watching penguins all day.
Our sailing ship was an ice cutter, the Polar Star, built in 1969 for the Swedish navy. It patrolled the northern Arctic Ocean until it was refitted for passenger travel in 1993. It carried approximately 80 passenger and crew.
We left the Argentine port city of Ushuaia via the Beagle Channel and traversed the turbulent water of the Drake Passage at the blinding speed of 11 nautical miles per hour. After two days of “rock and roll” our contingent of adventurers arrived on the mainland of Antarctica.
Among exotic places visited were Paradise Bay, Deception Island, Whalers Bay, Neptune’s Window and the Palmer Ice Station. The latter included a tour of the facility to see our US tax dollars at work on important research.
The method of assessing the land was the Zodiac, a combination rubber raft and boat. A two-cycle Yamaha engine propelled the vessel. Landings were wet and you could expect to wade in frigid water above mid leg as you made your way to the rocky shores.
On our sailing, we encountered a pod of Orcas. These magnificent creatures romped around the ship for several miles while cameras were flashing. Twenty-two were spotted.
Antarctica is a marvelous place. It is the only continent that has no indigenous people, doesn’t belong to any nation and has never had a war fought on its soil. It is the last frontier on Earth travel and well worth the time and cost of going there.
There are now several ship making the voyage, most carrying less that 100 passengers, as this is the limit of passengers that can dropped at any landing site at any one time. Cost is approximately $10,000 plus an investment in Antarctic-compatible gear to make landings and tolerate the sub-zero wind chills. I booked my trip through Elderhostel, a travel service for senior 55 and older.
You may check: http// elederhostel.com