The day that shall always be remembered as the day we set foot on our 7th continent.

I feel like I should share the point of this post early on to capture your attention.  We saw three Orca Whales.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

This morning saw us in Paradise Cove.  A beautiful bay with scenic glaciers, small iceburgs, adele penguins and a summer Argentine research station.

We landed at the base of the research station and our penguin expert, Patri, directed us to climb the hill first while the light was good and stop and the penguins on our way down.  So if the penguin expert is advising us to move along, we, of course, started climbing to the peak.

I don’t know how far up we climbed but it felt pretty high.

It wouldn’t bother anyone until you get to the top and realize that the only way to get from the snow to the rock at the peak, is this narrow 3 feet bridge.  With a drop.  A long drop.  Jason, the expedition geologist, advised us to climb to the very peak and take a panoromic picture, but we contented ourselves 4 feet from the top instead.

It’s a pretty easy climb but it’s rough getting down.  It requires sitting on your bum and keeping your feet up in the air while you toboggan down the hill.  It was so horrible, Keith and I did it three times.  We hold the record for number of trips down the mountain.

We got so good at this torturous decent that we started doing the penguin pose on the way down.

We had a quick zodiac tour on the way back to the boat.  Saw some nesting birds and glaciers and stuff.  And penguins.

Tired of penguins yet?

Then we headed to our next stop,  Lamier Channel.  After lunch, the fam decided to head to the bridge.  (Oh, right, one of the best perks of this boat is the open bridge policy.  You can literally stop by any time for a visit.  My SIL and BIL have a habit of visiting at 1 AM before bed.)  Anyway, they headed down because we were navigating through an ice field and wanted to see how the captain and ice captain were getting along.  I held back because, well, I don’t remember.  It made sense at the time.  But it was the wrong decision.  Just 5 mins after they left, the expedition leader, Larry, announced an Orca sighting.

So of course, I booked it to the bridge too.  And tried to make it look like I had been there all along.

At first, it the whales were a long way away.  And the Ice Captain wanted us to continue on course.  However, the Captain made the ultimate decision to turn the boat around and head closer to their location.  It was tricky getting back through the ice but totally worth it.

At first, all we saw were birds.  Then through the birds, pops up an Orca whale fin.

Then another fin.  Then a whole whale.

Rich, another expedition staff member, advised us that the whales had just taken down a seal and the three orca’s were feasting on it’s remains.  And the birds were eating whatever was left.  Nice right.  This one’s still alive.  For now.

But it’s got trouble.

Finally, I started to get cold and headed down to our room.  The captain was starting to turn the boat back the way we had come.  Now, remember, I have horrible timing.  Usually I leave just before the most awesome thing happens.  Like the breaching humpback whale earlier in this trip.

I decided to make one more peek out of our stateroom balcony.  And two killer whales, swimming in tandem, surfaced not 20 feet from my perch.

For once, my awful timing turned out great.  From where I was on deck, I would never have gotten this picture perfect view.

Next up was an attempt at Laramier Crossing.  Supposedly the most gorgeous fjord in the world.  I wouldn’t know.  It was too icy to get in.  There was a huge iceberg blocking the path.  The Captain got us as close as possible then we hopped in the zodiac’s for a zodiac tour of the icebergs and seals.

See the iceberg sitting in the middle?  Apparently they are bad for ships.  (I.e. titanic)

Since it was only the second thing that was canceled on our entire trip, I can’t be very upset that we missed it.

Oh – have I mentioned it’s New Year’s Eve?  After dinner, one of the passengers who is also a vet and a standup comedian, Kevin Something, performed a short routine.  It was hilarious.  My favorite jokes were about the stupid questions people ask on the boat and it’s true, stupid questions happen.  My favorites:

  1. When on the a zodiac, what sea level are we at?
  2. When told that you can’t take any chickens onto the Falkland Islands, does that include Chicken Sandwiches?
  3. When told about a time change after we go to sleep, one lady asked if that meant tomorrow’s movie was going to be at 7 instead of 8.
  4.  Is this the same moon we can see in Texas?
  5. What country does this Chilean military base belong too?
  6. Does the boat generate it’s own electricity?  No, the boat drags a really long extension cord all the way from Ushuaia.
  7. And the best: Do the scavenger birds eat the penguin eggs raw?

As it got closer to midnight, we wandered up to the 6th floor deck where the crew had installed a 2012 sign that flashed at midnight.

Notice Keith has been swimming….

Because swimming one time in Antarctica wasn’t enough.

And then he wore his swimsuit to the bridge

Just another average day in Antarctica.  Oh –  and I forgot.  We saw another ship today for the first time since leaving the Falkland Islands.  I almost forgot other people still existed!

Happy New Year!!!

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