Day 2: Cierva Cove Christmas

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.

Penguins at Mikkelson Harbor

Day 2: Mikkelson Harbor The only non-soggy shot I took on this landing. The big, fat snowflakes quickly turned into big, fat raindrops. No bueno for my unprotected camera.

On board the Ocean Nova

Day 2: Mikkelson Harbor Soggy me checking to make sure my camera hasn’t died. Steam radiators = awesome for quickly drying gloves and scarves.

On board the Ocean Nova

Day 2: Mikkelson Harbor Mom and I had the handicap room, which meant we scored an extra large bathroom.

On board the Ocean Nova

Day 2: Mikkelson Harbor Hanging up our pants, jackets and life jackets to dry.

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.

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove The expedition crew donned festive Santa hats for this excursion.

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove Floating ice and grey skies, as far as the eye can see.

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove More icebergs.

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove And more.

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove If you squint, it almost looks like a dog’s face!

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove Coated in fresh powder.

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove Still continuing to be a snowy Christmas.

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 :)

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove Rum! And hot chocolate. Match made in heaven.

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove Photo credit goes to Daniel. You can spot me and my parents, although I’m the only one slightly facing the camera.

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!

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove Heading back to the loading dock.

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.

Icebergs at Cierva Cove

Day 2: Cierva Cove Our winning hunk of dense ice. Ain’t she a beaut.

7.00 PM: Dinner as usual, although with much smoother waters than the night before (thank god).

Christmas in Antarctica

Day 2: Christmas Dinner Yum.

Christmas in Antarctica

Day 2: Christmas Dinner The land staff in Punta Arenas sent a Christmas package to all of the expedition members on board, which was filled with chocolates and a few penguin hats.

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.

Christmas in Antarctica

Day 2: Christmas Orcas Killer whale!

Christmas in Antarctica

Day 2: Christmas Orcas There was also a baby swimming alongside this one, but it was camera shy.

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.

You may also like