Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Realization of a Dream

Since I was a kid, I was always fascinated by Antarctica. The fact

that such an alien place existed and that life could exist in such

extreme conditions was just amazing to me. Although I could never

take on such an undertaking, I could connect with the drive of

Antarctic explorers to endure hardship to explore such a frozen,

inhospitable, wonderland of snow and ice. That penguins, especially

Emperors, beat the odds to survive on their own where nothing else

could, was proof that life can adapt and survive. As strange as it

my sound, I've always dreamed about visiting such a place. To

survive where nature never intended us to.

On afternoon of 15 May 2007 at a location of -63 41.465, -61 28.968,

I saw, with my own eyes, my first glimpse of Antarctica! According

to the map, it was Hoseason Island. It is not the continent itself,

but it is Antarctica. I'm sure my companions thought I was nuts when

I started running around looking for pen to write it down the

coordinates and map to look it up on. Chris had Google Earth on his

laptop, so I was able to figure out where we were. I went outside,

without a coat, and took a few pictures. It is barely above freezing

outside, so I wasn't out for long. I went back in for my coat and

hat and but realized the deck was a bit slick, so I went back in. I

worked for a little bit and when I saw land off the port side, I did

it all again. This time I put on my boots, coat, hat, and gloves so

I could stay out for a bit. While I was walking around, I saw some

whale spouts off in the distance. Just as I was going to go inside

to tell the others, a bunch of them came out on deck. The captain

had stopped the ship and told everyone about the whales. We only got

to see glimpses of them as they were about 200-500 yards off the bow

and kept diving. Then we saw some fur seals about 50 yards off the

starboard side. I stayed out for awhile taking it all in and looking

at the islands around us. It was near dark and had been foggy all

day, so we really couldn't see a lot, but it was enough. It started

to sink in that I was getting very close to realizing a life long

dream. A lot of my companions on this journey share this same

feeling of awe, but I don't think it is quite the same for them as

it is for me. As cheesy as it sounds, it is hard for me to think

about it and not get choked up a bit. Even now, as I type this, it

is very hard to keep my composure. I'm sure that the day I set foot

on land, will be one of the most treasured moments of my life. Right

up there with the day I married Layna and the days Abby and Cora were

born. That moment will be around 0800-0900 EDT tomorrow. I'd didn't

sleep much last night and I imagine that tonight is going to be much

of the same.

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