On The Wall For Years
January 20 - February 3, 2004
Reproduction or use of any images is
New images posted May 19, 2007
Not many people go to Antarctica. For the majority of the world's population, it's far, expensive, inconvenient, and let's face it, unattractive. People want beaches, see ruins, cathedrals, savage animals. Most people don't know anything about Antarctica, if they even know that it exists. How many people learned anything about Antarctica in their geography class in school? So how did we end up there?
Ever since I was young I used to hang the map of my "next big destination" on the wall above my bed. So it came that for ages the map of Australia was there. In 1997 I got that out of my system, and so I had to replace it with something else. I have been always fascinated by the weird things, by the really unusual and remote. Antarctica was an obvious second to Australia. In high school we learned about every continent except for Antarctica (I remember Mr. Manz making us memorize the top 20 cities and rivers of every continent - his quizzes were dreaded, but until today I remember the land area of Taiwan, something even my wife can't keep up with and is amused by). The biggest problem was actually getting a map of Antarctica to hang above the bed: just try it, go to your local bookstore or such and try to buy a map of Antarctica. Chances are you won't be successful. I ordered one from National Geographic - out of stock (and today they have a different map). About three months later it arrived, when I had almost forgotten that I ordered it, banged up by UPS as usual - but it has found a place on the wall above my bed as planned. In California you have to hang soft and light things above your bed, in case of earthquakes... It has been above my bed until Essan and I moved into our new house, at which point my wife-to-be suggested that something more appropriate or tasteful may be considered for this location. Reluctantly, I moved the map to my office.
Then in January 2003 I dragged Essan to Fairbanks, because I missed the cold and snow so badly since we had an even for Californian proportions mild winter. She hated me for it, especially since there was no snow, no northern lights and let's face it, not really any cold in Fairbanks that season. Let down even by Alaska in the winter, more serious plans had to be made. After our experience in the Peruvian rainforest we felt that we had enough of hot and humid for a while and that we needed a change. Surprisingly, Essan accepted my suggestion of Antarctica.
Research showed that it wasn't easy to get there - no surprise there. Quite a few companies offer trips to the southernmost continent, but often they just "code share" a ship, and the bottom line is that only very few actual providers get you there. My research indicated that the best choice would be Peregrine Adventures, an Australian company, booked through Expeditions in Oregon. With some luck we got the last cabin on board of the Akademik Ioffe, a very modern Russian, Finnish built research vessel with ice capabilities and a trip that promised to bring us to the Antarctic Circle and beyond.
Our expectations for the trip have been met and greatly exceeded, as you can find out for yourself - go to Chapter 1.