We travelled south to the south/east end of Melville bay over night and woke in a grand fiord with a stunning view.
I want to deal with a few “housekeeping” topics in this post.
Our cabin and rocking and rolling:
Our cabin, 348, is right at the back end of the ship, right next to the engine, so we hear it, often during the night, well, anytime that we are moving, actually. It is a good bit louder than when we were in cabins up toward the middle of the ship, but neither of us has a problem ignoring it when it is time to drop off. It is loud, like when someone is running a leaf blower on the front lawn, but at least with the window closed. Sort of a dull roar. I would say it was white noise, but it is deeper than that. More like when your kid decided that getting a rock tumbler was mandatory. And it is a kind of message that we feel comes directly from the captain to us: “OH SHIT! The engine just cut out! We are stopping! Oliver found something! Get into battle gear!” And, being close to the back end of the ship (or in the middle actually) means that our cabin is more stable. There hasn’t been pretty much any kind of sea action for the entire trip, so that has been fabulous!
When Will and I went on the first trip to Antarctica, in 2012-13, I bought internet access for the entire trip. But we were at the south end of the world and the access was spotty, to say the least. So I would write a post (and the blogging tools were also much more primitive then) and then I would try to post and then it would be a long long LONG wait of attempting to post, and I’d be sitting there yawning in the Lounge at 12:00am (where the Wifi was better) and at the end of it I would often be rewarded with a “FAILED TO POST” message. And then I’d sputter and try again. I would end up getting only 4 or 5 hours of sleep, not for the good reason that it was so beautiful that I couldn’t bear to go to bed, but because I wasn’t getting my post posted. Stupid. So after dealing with this for 2 trips (I know, fool me once…) I decided to say PHOOEY! and just make notes and ignore the internet while on these trips unfriendly to the internet. It could well be that things have improved enough that this kind of CURTAIN OF SILENCE is not necessary now. But, you know, I kinda LIKE being completely out of touch with the world. Can you think why? Which brings me to our dumpy president.
The entire ship’s crew and staff (Crew being the people who work on the ship for stints of 8 or 9 months a year – Staff being people who were engaged for this particular trip and are naturalists, photo instructors, scuba divers, etc.) have been under a stern and wise invocation to not discuss politics. At all. Period. And they have admirably acceded with this dictum. And, by and large (for an excellent description of the nautical derivation of that phrase, check this out: https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/by-and-large.html) and without instruction, the guests also followed that plan. It seems that people would prefer a trip like this to be civil overall! BUT there have been a few lapses. One evening, before the evening recap (which happened at about 6:15 each evening in the lounge, with drinks)
when a review of all the days activities and sightings was held and sponsored by Russ Evans, the expedition leader, I overheard an older gentleman on the seat to the right of me brandishing a copy of the Times Digest (A paper copy of a digest of the daily New York Times) and growling to the people in his circle, “They should all be sent to jail!” I leaned over and immediately added some kind of agreement, and then he went on saying “That Stormy Daniels woman! She had a contract not to talk and she is blabbing away. She should be locked up and they should throw away the key.” The person next to him said, “Well, that is a civil offense. Not appropriate to go to jail. Some kind of fine….” Ick. I realized that I was in enemy territory. Will and I looked at each other with eyebrows raised to the maximum facial muscles would allow and cringed a bit leftwards in our seats. I overheard a number of other ODD moments, but mostly, the people we struck up conversations with, after a few feelers were thrown out, were solidly anti-Trumpers. You would think so, since this was an exploration of many many many hanging glaciers, which were melting away in our very faces, that the big fat climate change denier himself would not be particularly popular among this flotilla of passengers. I wonder what the actual recorded count would be of Trumpers vs. non-Trumpers?
Actually, as much as I did hear, on occasion, various little bits and pieces of Republican stances murmured, when walking though the lounge preparing for recap, I was far more likely to hear “She got that hip, replacement, you know, but it just didn’t take so well.”, “I’ve been keeping up with all my medications on this trip! My doctor will be so proud of me!” “My shoulder just isn’t the same since I was moving that box down from the attic.” “Harry’s sleep apnea just makes it so hard.” So, I have to take a chill pill.
Hector and Rommel:
Will and I love Hector and Rommel.
They look after us at breakfast lunch and dinner. We have taken to eating together at a two seater table, often. At least partially because either he or I have ben sick for much of the trip and sitting there and coughing all over your new friends doesn’t seem all that neighborly, actually. But the Bistro area where we eat has Hector and Rommel and Chris and Maria to take care of us and they are so wonderful. We are both quite quite spoiled!!! We had a plot to smuggle Hector into our suitcase but it came to naught.
I really don’t know why I look so happy here, because I was actually quite sad about leaving them. Stupid selfies. This picture also includes Kate and Lindsey, two of the teachers.
Back to the trip…
We arrived at a grand fiord, high mountain walls on either side.
The “long walk” took us up high, high high to a lookout point from where we could see the ship, a glacier, icebergs in the distance, and another view of icebergs in the distance in another direction! All quite spectacular. It was another great hike, as it was ranked as very challenging, somehow those people who come along even though they really are terribly unsteady on their pins, decided not to come, which was great. So we only had people who were up for doing some hiking.
I hate to be a bum about it, but I am eager to do big hikes, and when someone is coming along and really cannot keep up, or you are watching and waiting for them to fall, or you are feeling like you have to pause and help them up each and every boulder in the way, it does color the trip. I really wanted to be gracious and helpful and kind, and I feel bad about not being empathetic, especially since I think the chances of me getting Alz are rather high, especially if we are taking into account the current terrible memory I have for pretty much anything. I found myself worrying about this one guy so much on the trip, that I was having difficulty concentrating on the view. He wasn’t really all that appreciative, either. I would try to start a conversation and he would ignore me or give me the brush off. I think he just didn’t have capacity to include other people in his world view. He reminded me of my Dad when he was in Alzheimer’s grip. My Dad had a great deal of pride and when he got something into his head to do, there was no dissuading him. I think it was because he was finding it difficult enough to get anything straight in his head, so when he had something, anything, that he had decided, he would just stick to it. Unable to shift or change when things reasonably required shifting and changing. Dennis, the doctor, is always so patient and kind. He just would follow along with the person who was furthest behind, having the most difficulties, ready with an arm or a smile, or an innocuous comment. He is a better person than I am. One of those people that you are very glad to see as a doctor.
I hope I have the grace and awareness to know when I would be inconveniencing others or putting them out by my requirements. How much do I restrict my activities now because I don’t want to inconvenience others? Maybe not enough. Maybe I won’t get that right, and if so, I apologize in advance.
Serguei came along to pick up lichen, Kate got up on every erratic, Jenny led, the doctor was there in case anyone fell down. A winner hike.
Loads of Lichen on this trip. We stopped on a cushioned pad of lichen and everyone lay down and enjoyed the quiet and the soft mattress beneath us. Deep calm fills us.
Taken laying down:
The only thing missing from this paradise is animals. There just aren’t enough animals.
We got back to the ship and began to move further into the fiord. It turned out that they wanted to take us to actually step on the Greenland Icecap. There was a place they knew of where it had been possible in the past, so the ship moved gracefully through the narrows.
- The sleeping glacier opens an eye
- And winks at the captain changing tack
- Our regal ship changes her course
- And, with our shutters, we wink back
Far earlier than usual, two zodiacs filled with naturalists and staff zipped ahead of the ship.
She followed them, moving closer and closer to the end of the fiord. As we come around the mountain bends, there is the sweep of a great glacier ahead of us, and above it – the ice cap!!! Will and I are pulling out our gear and looking out the window and we can see the tiny bodies of staff and naturalists hiking up to the white crumpled sheets of ice.
Everyone piled out and made it over there.
The view of the ice was phenomenal!
I think everyone was sort of suffering from “rapture of the ice”
A Circuslike atmosphere, frankly, and it was sort of unnerving seeing so many of the weaker hikers all surmounting the top of the “ice Sheet hill” Will and I achieved the top and then scooted down it, because it was just getting too crowded and crazy.
Then after a while everyone had gotten up it and then down it, and it was looking more sparse again, and we re-surmounted the top. Daniel and Joe took our pictures, which was very nice,
and Alix came up in a dress and looked FABULOUS! we did Vogue shots of her.
Will insisted on getting too close to the edge and Jenny had to drag him back to safety. (Not really)
At the end of the afternoon, on the beach, the hotel staff had made a BBQ of steak sandwiches and beer. Kelly and Kate and Kiera and Will and I all stood around and debated who we liked better of all the late night political comedians. It was a fun moment.
And now we are back on board and we are steaming (?) our way down the channel, and I think I will go out and appreciate the view of icebergs for the next hour or so as we leave the Greenland icecap behind!