Category: Travel

Antarctica News

We have shared our plan to go to Antarctica in Feb of 2023. That is only 5 months away, and we are very excited. However, we had to take a serious look at our situation. Lou’s knee just isn’t bouncing back as fast as he would like. And, even though he will be comfortable on the ship, there are hours of plane travel, and lots of walking involved to get to Argentina. So … we had another heart to heart. We agreed it was best to reschedule Antarctica. The good news – we were able to get the same trip in February of 2024, and were able to get a better cabin, all for the same fare. I think it is the smart move, and now we are excited to travel in 2024!

Here is a cute penguin video … this is from a stop on the Falkland Islands, one of the places we hope to visit.


So cute when the penguin goes back to grab his friend, who got confused. This video was shared by Andrea Barlow, who was living in the Falkland Islands when the video was taken.

Don’t be sad for us – we are determined to get to Antarctica! Lou came up with an idea for February – we are going to do a driving trip to Disney World. We have vacation club points to use, and we already have Teresa on the hook to watch the dogs (which she likes to do). We have planned an ambitious Disney trip, splitting our stay between the Grand Floridian, Animal Kingdom, and the Boardwalk. Lots of good dining will be on the agenda. Disney has changed so much since the pandemic. We used to make dining reservations 180 days in advance, now it is 60 days. This is just one of the many differences. I am polishing up my Disney planning skills!

Watching the rhinos visit the Yacht Club for drinks

Still watching leaves change colors in the mountains – more on that tomorrow.

Stay Safe!

Let’s Try This Again


We don’t necessarily have a bucket list of things we want to do before we die, but we do have a general idea of places we would like to visit. Antarctica has been at the top of our list for many years. We first planned, booked, and PAID for a trip in 2007. We were living in Australia at the time, and were excited to be going on our first big travel vacation in many years. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the trip when Rinker (the company I worked for at the time) was bought by Cemex. It was too late to get a refund, but we did receive credit for future trips with Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris. This worked out for us, as we were able to take the fantastic voyage to Svalbard and the Arctic Region in 2008:

Photo by Lou in the Arctic. There are no polar bears in Antarctica.

Fast forward ten years to 2017. We planned ahead and had booked a cruise to Antarctica again. We planned well in advance, picked the Expedition Ship we wanted, secured the cabin we wanted, and then … cancelled. This cruise was with National Geographic/Linblad, and we were fortunately within refund time frame when we cancelled due to Lou’s impending knee replacement (the first one!)

Penguins we did NOT see on our first two cancelled expeditions

Would we ever get to Antarctica? Thoughts of the big expedition went to the back of our minds and we filled our travelogue with adventures in Galapagos, Alaska, and Disney. We began to think seriously about Antarctica, and booked a short “practice” cruise with National Geographic to the Canadian Maritimes. And then … drum roll … the pandemic hit. The Canadian Cruise was cancelled, and our out-of-state travel came to a halt.

Earlier this week, we had just settled into our pre-dinner routine to watch the news (always an experience at our house) and perhaps have a glass of wine or a cocktail. Lou said, out of the blue, “I’ve been thinking about your 70th birthday next year (thanks for reminding me, Lou) – what do you think about going to Antarctica?” I think I was speechless for few moments. I had pretty much knocked this trip off of our radar, but guess what? Not only is it back on, it is booked and the deposit has been paid!

Penguins we hope to see on our 2023 voyage

We did go back and forth for a few days:

Sharon: Are you really sure you want to do this trip…
Lou: Yes, I really want to do it. Do YOU really want to go?
Sharon: Yes, I really want to go, do YOU really want to go?
… several more iterations ensued…

… and so we ascertained each of us REALLY wanted to go. We discussed expectations, based on past cruising experiences and possible physical limitations. Lou may not want to go on all of the shore excursions, but that is okay. His primary concern is that I do all the activities I want to do, without worrying about him. This works with this type of Expedition Cruise, as there is plenty to see from the ship. And he will do some of the zodiac landings, so I think it will be fine. He did say his favorite activity is to take photos of me in the zodiac!?!

I can see where this could be exciting 😉. Seriously, Lou does get interesting shots from the ship.

We are excited! Normally this type of cruise is planned at least 12-18 months in advance. We are booked for February 2023 – just 6 months from now!!! We were very lucky. Both the ship we preferred, and the last one of the type of cabin we wanted, were available for our chosen itinerary.

National Geographic Explorer – brochure photo

The cruising season for Antarctica runs from November thru March. January seems to be the preferred month, with penguins and whales both making an appearance. The mid-February departure date was the only one that went to Antarctica, South Georgia Island, and the Falklands. This should still be good viewing season for penguins and whales. We ruled out the November departures, figuring February was a better time to be away from Maine.

This map shows our itinerary. We will fly from Miami to Buenos Aires. There we hook up with our travel group, and take a 3 hour charter flight to Ushuaia – at the southern tip of Argentina. We will cross the Drake Passage enroute to the Antarctic Peninsula, then to South Georgia, and on to the Falkland Islands. The trip is listed as being 24 days, but I believe we actually have 20 nights on the ship.

Concerns

My telling of the story may make it seem like this was a simple decision. It wasn’t. The cost of the trip, and being away from home for almost a month were the first two hurdles. Expedition cruises to Antarctica aren’t cheap, and if we were going to do it, we were going to include South Georgia and the Falklands. And it should not be a surprise – we picked one of the highest cabin categories since we will be onboard for 20 days. As for being gone so long, we are fortunate that Teresa seems to be excited about taking care of the dogs. We worked our way through cost and time away by rationalizing that it had been forever since we have travelled,

Hey look! We already have our life jackets. Sorry pups, you can’t go.

The biggest unknown is dealing with Covid. The pandemic is still here, and there is no hope that it disappears in six months. The ship follows onboard masking protocols, and all passengers and crew are tested before embarking. We will have travel insurance, and will do everything in our power to make sure we are Covid-free before the trip. We are less concerned about catching Covid, more concerned about how a positive test could interrupt the travel plans. Lou has already spoken to our new GP about getting medical clearance for the trip, and she said she will help us make sure we have the latest vaccines and boosters.

I think I have been the one more concerned about the what-ifs related to Covid. Lou’s attitude seems to be that we have sheltered in long enough, and shouldn’t avoid travel just because something might happen. I am good with this approach, and also take comfort in knowing the trip will be rescheduled if something goes awry. We will get to Antarctica!

Planning

If you have been following this blog forever, you might know we like to plan. I will no doubt be sharing some of the planning process as we go forward. It is fun to have a real trip to think about! The good news – you will only be subjected to our (let’s be honest – my) musings for a few months, since February 15th is departure time!

Thanks for following along. Can’t wait to inundate y’all with photos of icebergs, penguins, whales, seals, albatross, and more. Oh, and food. You know there will be food photos.


Stay Safe !!!

Happy Mother’s Day


Sending good wishes to all Moms – to all the caretakers of two legged humans, as well as our four-legged pups😉.

Stitch wanted to join in the Mother’s Day wishes, but he is having a hard time waking up. Perhaps he was a bear in a previous life.

Stay Safe !!!

Should We be Worried???

I know people are anxiously awaiting some more train photos … but our head engineer is doing many different projects, and has not given me an appropriate set to photograph 😄

I did happen to see these on the counter today … whoa! A bit aggressive. Turns out, When Lou was in the Army, he went to Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range in the early 70’s. Lou supervised the training on these missiles … fortunately he never fired one in real life!!!



That is about it for us. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Karen & Tom tomorrow. They will be visiting from Arizona, and **fingers crossed** the weather here should be relatively mild during their stay.

Missing Alaska … Again

Saw this photo today … taken by a professional photographer at Lake Clark National Park. Our plan was to be there this month, but we cancelled due to uncertainties related to COVID. No regrets at all, as we believe it was the right thing to do. We still feel very fortunate to have visited the Silver Salmon Creek area and the Alaska Homestead Lodge twice – in 2015, and again in 2019.

We had planned the 2021 trip for July, earlier than our previous trips. We had hoped to see younger cubs, and more bears clamming. It was a sound planning decision, if this photo is representative of this summer at Lake Clark. And … we haven’t ruled out a return visit in the future.

Three Years ago Today …

We were setting off on our Galapagos Adventure, with Olivia, Catherine, Amy and Claudia…It was a wonderful trip.

Sadly, we received news earlier this month that Claudia’s husband, John Sacret Young, passed away. John was well regarded in the television and movie industries, and was the creator of the acclaimed China Beach TV series. We send our condolences to Claudia, and all of John’s family and friends.