6.45 AM: Wake up for an early landing, feeling much better than the night before. Blearily bundle up and head out to the plank area while maintaining a hangover-like haze. Notice that only about 35 people in our group make it up this morning (all landings are technically optional). The blast of cold air from the plank opening is definitely refreshing.
8.00 AM: First zodiac out to Mikkelson Harbor, which is covered in snow and has a sizable population of penguins and seals. Big, fat snowflakes are falling – kind of a tough standard to beat – first snow in Antarctica, and my first time walking on real snow (I know, I’ve been deprived). Despite the fact that snowflakes sting like mad when they’re flying into your face at 30 mph, I still haven’t become disenchanted yet. Take only a few pictures, since my camera is completely unprotected from the elements. Definitely starting to look more like an expedition in the photos, with everyone geared up, little flags marking safe zones, and stormy grey clouds as the backdrop.
9.30 AM: Quick brunch – don’t want to eat too much. Goal = not gaining 20 lbs from this trip.
11.30 AM: Lecture about… something. Okay, yeah this was a useful log.
1.00 PM: Zodiac cruising around Cierva Cove, a field of icebergs. First time seeing icebergs up close (well, first time seeing icebergs at all). The Tiffany blue colors aren’t just elements of Photoshop magic – they actually do exist. Interesting to learn about how these form, and how water erosion causes the cool shaping effects (most of them flip over and rotate at some point). Mariano, our zodiac driver, and Vladimir had a contest to see who could pick up the best specimen of dense ice – the kind of ice that’s dangerous to ships, since they’re nearly invisible in water and hard as a diamond.
2.45 PM: Surprise for the group: all the zodiacs gathered in the middle of the icebergs for hot chocolate and rum. Now that’s a good way to celebrate Christmas :)
3.30 PM: Return back to the ship in time for a lecture on Antarctic exploration from Adrian, who’s a professor at a Colorado university and also a first timer to Antarctica. He focuses on South American history and also teaches one class on Antarctic history, which fills up quickly every semester. Fun fact: he studied at Berkeley for one year as an exchange student. Go bears!
6.30 PM: Recap of the day in the Panorama Lounge, where we talk about the next day’s plan and learn about the photo contest for the trip.
7.00 PM: Dinner as usual, although with much smoother waters than the night before (thank god).
9.00 PM: Documentary in the Panorama Lounge, which gives me time to finish logging the rest of Peru and the beginning of our Antarctica trip. Being the old fashioned person I am, I write everything in a paperback Moleskine (vs. typing it out on my netbook). Orca sighting off the side of the ship – everyone rushes outside to take photos.
10.00 PM: Documentary ends and random elevator music starts playing in the lounge. The Titanic theme song comes on – clearly we need a new DJ. An expedition crew members plugs in his iPod and Stereo Love starts playing instead. Much better.
11.45 PM: After a long day, finally head to bed. Still getting used to the fact that it looks like midday outside.