Published: January 15th 2012
January 14th 2012
HEADING FOR PALMER STATION
Woke up early to spotty sunshine and ICE BERGS & BERGY BITS floating by my window. Coffee and juice worked their magic, my second cup made with hot chocolate mix, a great way to start the day. We are heading to Lamaire Channel where the scenery is awesome and the animals plentiful. Downed my long undoes, grabbed Gerald’s camera my mittens and funky long eared hat and prepared to head out on deck. While passing the dining room the call of smoked salmon lured me. Enjoyed a nice breakfast with happy people (the only kind I allow to sit with me) and we saw penguins doing their dolphin dance, leaping out of the water and diving back in, probably Adelies but I can’t be sure.
On deck it was chilly but not bitter. Small icebergs floated by and I got a couple of shots of seals, leopard and crab eater, hauled up for a rest. I also got a shot of three penguins on a flow.
I won’t even try to describe what I was seeing. The air smelled crisp and it was snowing lightly. We passed snow-covered mountains and a multitude of glaciers, some of which looked ready to calf but didn’t. I was on deck for over two hours before coming inside for ice cream. It’s thirsty work looking for leaping penguins and lazy seals.
Around one, we picked up a group of folk from the Palmer Station, one of three scientific stations maintained by the USA. They arrived by Zodiac, climbed the rope ladder and made a presentation describing the work they do and the conditions under which they work. This station has 42 summer residents, falling to around 15 in the winter, the “winter elite”. Our station at the South Pole has 200 in the summer, falling to under one hundred in the winter. Our largest facility, McMurdoo has eleven hundred in the summer, much less in the winter. It is the logistic center and while it does do science it also provisions, transports and supports seasonal stations around the continent.
We encountered fog and noticeable swells. My cabin in the stern was banging on the water as the swell passed. The weather didn’t improve so we never made Lamaire Channel but continued to cruise. Our scientists will stay on board to relax and enjoy the facilities, always available to answer questions and we’ll drop them off tonight around ten.
While blue sky would add a biting perspective, the fog creates it’s own ambiance and the scenery is beyond what I imagined it would be. I am truly blessed in so many ways.
Dinner tonight was a lovely seafood and soufflé, cream of chicken and broccoli soup and a tender, tasty T bone steak.
No show tonight, instead a movie on the “Bog Screen” so I headed to the poker table. Ended up winning $20 but it was a real grind so left early to be rocked to sleep by the heavy swells.