Here's what happened. That entire heavy rack of oars got blown onto the boat. (Odd; I'd have thought it was placed to be a little sheltered from the wind, but there may have been eddies.) Rudder heard that the wind was 90 knots or so last night.
After they removed the oars, you can see the boat damage a little better. Rudder's is the second one down, the red, yellow and dark blue Hudson. It's not nearly as bent but just about as damaged as the sky-blue Sykes above it.
So in the spirit of the Jully 4th fireworks that show up in some of these photos, here's a Grand Finale to finish it off in style. The pictures are in more or less chronological order, from our trip through Oregon and California. I'm putting it behind a cut because there are a lot of images.
Fireworks in my in-laws's back yard - this was actually the first time I'd set off any but the tiniest fireworks. Small ground-based fireworks are far cooler than I'd ever have thought.
Since retiring, my in-laws have gotten serious about their gardening. Here are some of the results. (The next-to-last photo is of an artichoke gone to seed.)
Here are the two of us at the Lava Beds National Monument, in Tule Lake, CA.
And the rest of these are at the races. Adjusting my foot stretchers:
On the water:
After the Rural Henley Regatta, with medals and commemorative plate:
In Sacramento after Regionals - me with my Henley medals and Rudder with medals from both regattas:
For once I've got better pictures of Rudder than of me this weekend. And there's a reason for that. I got kicked off an airplane today, rejected as excess baggage. He was scheduled to go flying, just practicing some instrument approaches. I was going to ride along and take pictures. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get the plane until 9AM, and by then it was already about 98 degrees. (For background, hot air is less dense, so the plane gets less lift.) The instructor was one he hadn't flown with before, and he's the biggest (heaviest) guy there. When he finally showed up after Rudder was done preflighting, he took a look at me in the back seat and said, "Uh, did you run a weight and balance?" We hadn't (ecause it's not usually a problem with only three people), so he went back inside and ran one. Sure enough, we were over gross take-off weight for the conditions. Of course, I was the lightest of us, but I was also the least necessary so I volunteered to get out, go home, and come back to pick RUdder up after the flight.
It wasn't until I turned onto our street that I remembered the instructor wasn't required for this flight. Rudder had booked him because he wasn't sure if I was going to ride along, and because I'm aadmittedly a little rusty. But we could have sent the instructor off, just used me a safety pilot, and saved some money. I'm not technically current, though (despite all of last years' flying, I never got my biannual because I thought I'd get the IFR rating and thus wouldn't need to) so we'd have had to ask if that's legal. So maybe we did need him.
Anyway, here are my favorite shots of Rudder with the airplane:
And here's what I did instead:
(Tech notes: These are all as taken, no Photoshopping. They were taken with the haze filter we always keep on the camera to protect the lens, and with the UV fllter we'd put on at Tahoe because we were taking pictures in the middle of the day and didn't want that flat midday light. The UV filter probably helped with the outside pictures, but I'm surprised at how well it worked with the indoor picture. That's without a flash, and with the nearby window shaded; it was a longish exposure and I just tried to sit very still. In contrast, another shot taken with flash was dark and flat and cool in lighting.)
I've been working on this in dribs and drabs for some time - last night I realized it was nearly long enough so I added on a couple more beads and the clasp and called it done. For those of you following Elise's sale last week or who have seen her work before, some of the inspiration may be obvious. Not that I'm comparing this piece with any of hers. But this is my first real foray into wirebending, beyond the little bit of wrapping I do on pendants and earrings, so it's a learning piece for me. I like its asymmetry. It's comfortable to wear, too; I seem to have done an OK job in getting it to lie flat, and in tucking in all the ends, and it doesn't weigh enough to notice.
I think what I need now is a wire jig, or maybe I can improvise one. I would love to be able to curve wire as beautifully as Kythryne - looking at my wirework and hers, I'm certain a jig isn't the only difference, but it would help.
Thanks to a doctor's appointment this morning, I'm telecommuting today. Working from home, "multitasking" takes on different and far more interesting meanings (including those photos above), and I still get more work done.
Here are a few portraits from the weekend. I haven't Photoshopped these at all, though I probably should have tried to lighten some shadows. You can see a lot more of our race photos here at Flickr.
The skirt made me do it...
Besides stitching the photos together, I heightened contrast, lightened a few shadows, and motion-blurred my skirt.
To date, I've been happier with the pictures of me than those of Rudder - he photographs well enough, probably better than I do, but I feel like a lot of them really aren't capturing anything about him. I think that may be because he's such an active person and some of the shots are so still. So this one is called A Boy and His Car, next week I'll get him racing again at Tahoe, and the week after I'll try for a photo with airplane.
No Photoshopping at all here!
Oh, and while I'm naming things, yesterday's earrings are Un-Lonely Planets.
The hard parts in this portrait project are twain: deciding on an idea or ideas, and then deciding among the results. Two shots today, because I'm wimping out on that decision, and also because each photo has both of us in it:
Also, because I wanted to see if direct sun would work better for beadwork photos, here's an incomplete piece I've been noodling around on (there's an earlier photo here):
Today I dropped Rudder off at the airport, then went to the gym. I like going on weekends because I'm not in a hurry to leave. I can do more free weights, whereas on weekdays I tend to use machines because they're faster. I do like my gym; there were any many women in the free weight area as men, they were lifting big heavy weights, and quite a few of them had the definition to prove they're serious about it. No powderpuffs doing endless reps of 2-pound weights, and no huge barrel-chested men with teeny skinny legs giving the women a hard time. In other parts of the gym were regulars and people who are clearly just starting out. A good mix. After going home to shower, I went to a new local bead store that's opened in the same location of one that had closed, and was pleased to find that though the new store has different owners, it carries some of the same dichroic beads I'd loved at the old one and hadn't been able to find since they closed. After coming home, I took some pictures of me for the weekend portrait project. I was going to try for some muscle shots, but I hated most of the results. Here's what I got when I cropped all the parts of my body that I thought looked awful: But I did quite like this shot I got while goofing around, so it's my official portrait for this weekend. I have no idea why it looks like steam is rising from my eyes, but I like the effect:
Here's Rudder heading out - unfortunately I'm not good enough at Photoshop to be able to entirely fix those shadows on his face:
I did eventually get some pictures that purport to show muscles, by dint of sucking in my stomach to the point of "ouch!" and not breathing, but decided to use those for a fitness progress entry instead. Then I spent the next several hours replacing the wheels on my boat's seat, remaking a bookmark, switching the silver spacers that were all I had on hand when I first made it for some gold(-colored) ones I bought today, and finishing two pair of earrings. The ones on the left are rose quartz and sterling; the others are sterling, aquamarine (I think) and iolite.
Now I'm off to get a massge - tomorrow I may drive up to Jerome or hang out here and look for new sandals, but either way I need to make some adjustments on my oars.
This time I went for typical activities. This chair is no longer in our family room, but when it was, it was my usual chair, and this is my usual pose in it. (Now it's in the office and I sit in similar positions on the futon.)
Oh, and the straight Jennifer Aniston hair isn't usual - I just happened to get it trimmed today and had the stylist blowdry it straight for fun. Odd how much darker than usual it looks.
Rudder pretty much has two gearspeeds: high and off. This one isn't high.
In the photo of me, I just played with brightness and contrast, remove a couple red spots on my forehead, and dampened a hghlight on my nose. On Rudder's I played with levels, brightened his hair and dimmed highlights(should have used the flash diffuser I bought) but I also played with the lighting source, to focus on his face. Oh, and he was only pretending to sleep for the photo.
I had a hard time deciding which shots to use for this one. Here are some of the rejects - I haven't Photoshopped these at all.
Here are the photos from the weekend. First, a series, instead of a single shot for me.
Give me a head with hair,
Long, beautiful hair,
Shining, gleaming, streaming flaxen waxen,
Give me down-to-there hair, shoulder-length or longer,
Here, Baby, there, Mama, everywhere Daddy, Daddy
Grow it, flow it, long as God can grow it, my hair.
In Rudder's case, though, one photo says it all:
"Monarch of all I survey"
Here are my favorite pictures of us from the weekend. Me in the quad after our race:
I cropped it, lightened shadows and played with the color balance a smidge.
And Rudder with his men's doubles partner - they look so commanding because I was lying on the ground and was too lazy to get up. No post-processing at all except to scale down the image:
There were lots of good pictures, though; you can see more of them here.
Rachel has inspired me to start a collection of self- and Rudder-portraits. Partly this is because we don't have enough good pictures of us around; partly this is because I photograph badly most of the time (this would be why we don't have a ton of pictures of us around) and partly it's because my landscape photo skills are decent but my portrait photo skills suck, and I'd like them to improve. Unfortunately, I may have to buy a separate flash and diffuser to get this to go well. Rachel's project is to do one self-portrait every day for 30 days, but given my time constraints, I'm going to do one (or more) each weekend, and one of Rudder too. (He's much easier to photograph well, so that will be the carrot on the stick.)
I did the Rudder one first, and am happiest with that one. I was going for a very protective feeling here.
I cropped it, softened the focus (using a film-grain filter) and turned it to black and white in Photoshop.
Here's the one of me.
"This is what almost 40 looks like"
I wanted this to be very uncompromising: no makeup, hair pulled back, the clothes I knocked around in all day. I've done a little Photoshopping, but only to crop the photo and adjust brightness and contrast; no soft-focusing or air-brushing or anything like that. Oh - I did edit out the logo on my shirt.
I was thinking the bare wall would help with that uncompromising feeling, but I didn't get any with that level gaze in them against the wall. I do like the shadows here, though.
That's Lindley, a.k.a. Mrs. Merdle, pointing to our location on the map, after sharing Mexican food and then tea with us. She stopped by on one of the early legs of her 'round-the-world tour; after us she heads to Albuquerque, then Denver, then on a circuitous path around the country, before hopping over to Europe, maybe Asia, and then Australia. We considered stowing away in her Subaru, but reasoned that with both of us squashed in there, she'd no doubt notice us before we got anywhere interesting.
I finished this a few weeks ago, after mulling over it and ocasinally experimenting on it for a year or more, but I don't thik I've posted it here before. It's based on a necklace of mine (that was inspired by some I saw in Alaska; I liked how the varying colors worked together to intensify the perceived color of the necklace as a whole. Everytime I've worn my necklace around my mother-in-law I've thought of giving it to her because it so well matches the colors she wears and looks good in, but I decided to make her one of her own, a bit longer than mine. I couldn't find anything I really liked to be the centerpiece of this necklace, until that large lampworked bead with a little dichroic in it arrived in the mail in one of Elise's Beads of the Month shipment (the stones in the matching earrings came with it). That changed the scale of the necklace; I tend toward tiny, delivate jewelry, but that bead required bigger ones around it. We're going to give her this set for Mother's Day.
The second picture is my MIL's necklace again, along with two I finished today. The middle one is the pearls Rudder gave me when we got engaged. The silk gave way during my flight home a couple of weeks ago. (Does anyone really get their pearls restrung every year?) Fortunately I didn't lose any. I decided to try restringing them myself instead of having someone else do it, after a local jeweler informed me they'd charge $64 and would have to send it to Florida. I think my first effort in pearl-restringing was reasonably successful, but it took me several hours to first cut all the old ones apart and then get every knot in the right place. It did get faster after a while, but there was one pearl I couldn't reuse; the old silk somehow got stuck in the drilled hole and I couldn't clear it. I saved it, and if I decide to get them restrng proessionally the next time I can take it in with the others.
The blue beaded necklace is the first of a series. Rudder's doing a lot of work organizing the Arizona Junior Championship Regatta, and we (the Outlaws) are donating the medals. As a fundraiser for the regatta, there will be an auction (prizes are listed here) and I'm going to donate necklaces with rowing charms made in the participating crews' colors. This one is for Xavier high school's rowing program.
This last picture is a bookmark I pt together this evening, while I had all the beads out. I've been wanting to play with some of those briolettes (the teardrop shaped bead on the bottom). The hole is drilled horizontally so it's a little hard to figure out how to use them in something vertical like earrings.
Some pictures and measurements below the cut, mostly not of general interest.
1" below shoulders: 40.5
Upper arms, flexed: 11.5"
Hips: 36.5" (that counts as progress, at least)
Upper thigh, flexed: 21.5"
Middle of calf, flexed: 14.5"
1" below shoulders: 40.5
Upper arms, flexed: 11 1/8"
Upper thigh, flexed: 22.0"
Middle of calf, flexed: 14.5"
1" below shoulders: 41.0
Upper arms, flexed: 11.0"
Waist: 28" (minor progress, but I'll take it)
Upper thigh, flexed: 21.0"
Middle of calf, flexed: 14.5"
1" below shoulders: 41.0
Upper arms, flexed: 11 1/8"
Waist: 28.5" (drat)
Upper thigh, flexed: 21.5"
Middle of calf, flexed: 14.5"
1" below shoulders: 41.5
Upper arms, flexed: 11.5"
Waist: 28.5" (eek)
Upper thigh, flexed: 21.5"
Middle of calf, flexed: 15.5"
I'm including this picture in clothes to demonstrate why I'm still a bit uncomfortable with the recent increase in boobage (best guess is that it's due to a change to supposedly lower-dosage birth control pills), after having been a 32A since puberty.
Top-down raglan, knitted per barbara Walker's "Knitting from the Top Down". I'm still learning about proper amounts of eas; the body fits well, but I could have made the upper arms smaller and then decreased them less.
Rudder just got the Arizona Outlaw shirts he'd designed and had printed. Are these the Coolest T-shirts Ever or what?
They have the small logo on the front, the big design on that back, ARIZONA OUTLAWS spelled out down the sleeves, and in case you can't read it, the slogan on the back is, "More whisky and fresh oars for my crew!"
And a special little one for me:
On our way to a rowing social yesterday afternoon, I pointed out to Rudder that if I told people that we were a little late because we were having the cat shaved, they would think that was some strange euphemistic way to say that we were having mad passionate sex. Thereupon, he forbade me to tell them that (he likes to keep some things private), but I pointed out that I'm not responsible for other people's assumptions upon hearing a plain statement.
Unfortunately, that statement is the literal truth. Yesterday, we had the cat shaved. He's been losing weight and getting mats in his fur. When we took him to the vet, she had some ideas for getting him to et but didn't really address the matted-fur issue. We've been brushing him, but the mats won't come out and are only getting worse, so yesterday we took him to the groomer. She told us that if left untreated the mats would indeed grow worse and could lead to sores on his skin. She tried combing a few, then told us that cutting them out was the only answer. So now we have a semi-shaved cat. He looks pathetic, and of course he hated the crating, the drive, the groomer, and the grooming, but I think the end results bother him far less than they do Rudder.
All done - well, except for working in the ends in the second one. All I can say is, my Dad better wear them.
That's my hand they're on - they look all bulgy just because they're too big for me.
Here we go - two poses mimicking the ones from the original pattern and the one in the middle because Rudder liked it.
The first year Rudder and I had a tree together, we bought a bunch of gold and red shiny balls and some special sparkly ornaments. We still have most of those, but everywhere (well, almost everywhere) we've traveled we've picked up an ornament fo the tree. This year we actually had enough to leave the balls off, but I put a few on, both out of sentiment and because they do make it look better when the lights are off because they show up better than most of our travel ornaments.
Here are pictures of our tree and a few of the ornaments:
The tree lit up - rudder had red, blue and green light strands left over from the holiday boat parade and decided to add some color to our usual white lights on the tree.
A Space Shuttle, from when we lived in Texas and worked on the space program.
A Beefeater, from the Tower of London.
A Mountie, from our trip to Edonton for the World Masters' Games last summer.
Our only rowing ornament.
A tassel from our trip to Korea.
Our tree topper - it actually "flies" in circles around the tree top.
A painted in peacock I picked up on a work trip to San Antonio.
The rose window from the Naitonal Cathedral in Washington D.C.
This ornament is pre-Rudder, from my very first tree. A friend was visiting me over Christmas and I didn't want him to be deprived of his tree so I bought a tiny table-top one. This ornament was from the shop of the nature center where I volunteered - it's actually made from a tuna-can lid.
On the left, Delft china Rudder bought on a business trip tot he Netherlands (one of many - his company's based there). On the right, Santa sleeping on a park bench. This probably requires some explanation. Not too long after Rudder and I had moved in together, he took me and several of our rowing friends on a trip to New Orleans. Our housemate J, seeing several homeless people sleeping on the benches not too far from the Cafe du Mondes (home of world-famous (really) chicory coffee and beignets) commented, "Look - they have a bed AND breakfast!" We were all drunk or tired enough for that to be extremely funny. So this ornament reminds me of J, and our other rowing friends from Houston, and that first trip to New Orleans.
The whole tree, unlighted. You can see a few cards stuck in the tree - Rudder's family does that, for cards that contain gifts (gift certificates, checks, or whatever).
By the way, this year we got a Grand Fir - looks a lot like a Doug fir but the branches are sturdier and easier to hang ornaments on, and didn't leave itchy red holes in us like a Noble Fir.
Me at the end of the race:
All the Outlaw rowers just after the finish:
With my medal:
Old Salt with his medal:
Loading up the van to go home:
When I looked at them again, the photos weren't as bad as I'd thought. (It was a switch in perspective; I needed to se these as snapshots of cool people and a fun time, not as Art to be enlarged and framed. Seeing everyone else's photos helped.) Sorry, but it's close to bedtime and I need to pack clothes for tomorrow, since I'm rowing. No time to get all the links straight. Maybe later.
Getting acquainted Friday night.
Cruel-Irony photographs well in profile:
LA being commanding:
Kevin and the meat hook:
And getting The Look (probably not really, but the expression is priceless)
Biensoul have the duet down:
Weetabix channelling Stevie Nicks:
Karaoke night was a hell of a party:
Cameras were everywhere:
Pablo rocks the joint:
And JournalCon rocks in general:
I was looking into a mirror today as I was fixing my hair, and thinking, "You know, I really don't look like nearly 40." Maybe it was the ponytail, or maybe it was the overalls - or maybe it's just that Gloria Steinem said and that this is now what 40 looks like. Anyway, here's the evidence, in inside and outside lighting. (Though I do think I look older in these than in my mirror. Cameras are not kind to me.)
Later note: I dragged out a few old photos to look at this morning, and it is true that I've aged. There is, of course, that deep line over one eye. And while I've always had dark shadows under my eyes - so the mirror has said - they didn't used to leap to the forefront of every photo quite the way they do now. I think the issue may actually be not the way I look but with my concept of forty. When I was a kid, forty-year-old women were teachers or moms. Their lives were focused on responsibility and they almost never did anything fun or spontaneous or challenging (probably because their daily lives were challenging enough already). Even their recreation was sedate. Of course, they may just not have done it while the kids were watching.
Also, and more importantly, here are some photos from yesterday's Dam to Dam regatta - me accepting my medal (don't get excited, I was the only female sculler in a single) and the whole outlaw crew. They handed out medals just for participating in this inaugural event, but those had red, white and blue ribbons. All the ones in these photos, on blue ribbons, are actual first place medals. Rudder and his partner were only disappointed that the winning eight beat them by 11 seconds!
Later note 2: I forgot to say, there's more about the race here.
I was just fooling around with my other domain and I've got our photo album started. So far, only the Projects and USA links work; the former is a clone of the backyard entry I put up here last weekend, and the latter contains some old photos I'd taken in Texas, made into a photo album using Photoshop's automated Gallery feature.
It turns out I can make albums using either iPhoto or Photoshop, but both create reckless amounts of pages and images so I haven't decided if I like them. I do like Photoshop's templates much better, though. Anyway, go look. The Texas gallery lets you leave feedback, too.
The backyard is finally all but done, all except for one tiny thing. The pool/deck guys need to install the side door to the propane and propane accessories area (yes, I do watch King of the Hill) on the BBQ they built -- but the grill has been working for a couple of weeks now. The company we hired has done good work, but slowly -- they started somewhere back in February. Apparently they're not used to having to schedule around actuall rainfall, which happened for a week or so early in the game.
A month or so ago we ripped out the scraggly, overgrown hibiscus and never-blooming jasmine between the palm trees along the south wall by the pool wall. This weekend Rudder finished the work he was doing on the electrical and sprinkler system and we put in the new plants. The rest of the yard is at its best too right now, with the sagebrush, oleander, and jacaranda all in bloom. Click below for details and pictures.
Unfortunately I don't have any images from before all the work was done. This was taken a couple of months ago while the pool was draining, before they ripped off the plaster and put in the new Pebbletec (technically, Armorstone), but after they put in the new terra-cotta-colored
On the right is a similar view with the pool and bench completed and the new plants in. The small ones are Mexican Heather, the larger ones are Heavenly Bamboo, and you can see a Dwarf Pampas Grass off to the left of the furthest palm. The Mexican Heather doesn't get much taller but will fill in as ground cover (we may need to add a few more); the Heavenly Bamboo will grow up to 8' high and 4' wide. It gets white flowers and small red berries and also has foliage that's red in spring and yellow, bronze and red in fall -- without dropping, apparently. It's not a real bamboo; it can be invasive in some areas, but I doubt it is here in this desert. The Dwarf Pampas gets tall feathery flowers in fall. You can also see a little of the sagebrush, now in purple bloom.
We may add some rosemary, which loves this area, to fill in behind the bench, covering exposed dirt without blocking an electrical outlet on the wall and adding a spicy fragrance. We put in some rosemary in front a while back and it's doing very well with no attention and not even a ton of water. Here's a better view of the oleander and sagebrush behind the basketball court, all of which were there when we bought the house. I love the jungly look in that end of the yard.
Here's the view to the west, while they were building the grill, and the same view today:
That's one more Dwarf Pampas to the end of the strip by the new wall. Its feathery blooms may be a small problem so close to the pool, which is one reason we only used the two of them -- we'll probably put more Mexican Heather or rosemary by the end of the new wall near the grill.
You can also see the top of the jacaranda behind the wall -- I love the purple blooms that cover it now, and I also like the feathery leaves the rest of the year. Good thing it's away from the pool, though, because all those flowers drop right off. Except for the jacaranda, and a few scattered trees, that end of the yard was bare when we bought the house, an odd contrast to the jungle on the other end. We put in an orange tree and some oleanders a few years ago. The tree has borne a grand total of one orange -- we think we need to fertilize and prune more -- but the oleanders have grown magnificently. Even the one that was labeled "dwarf" is now about 7' high.
They also drop a lot of flowers, but they're pretty, and far enough from the pool for that not to be a problem. The new wall should help with those. The wall is to hide the pool pump, replacing a shed Rudder always hated, and it does stop short enough to leave us a view of the oleanders from the covered patio. Left is the view of the western end of the yard:
One of these days we'll put in some more fruit trees, and maybe some of those will even give us fruit.
Just a random photo to see how this works. If you're wondering, this is an iceberg somewhere along the Antarctic peninsula, taken from a Zodiac. That guy in the red hat was way too tall and his dam,ned hat ended up in a whole bunch of our pictures.
Hey, come to think of it, once we get photos online, a random photo chooser is exactly what I need. I wonder how to do that.........
LA: Yes. Me. Pink.
Note: I've added several pictures and quotes to the penguins entry as well as a couple on this page. Go look.
Wind and Waves
"That night the temperature was -75F; at breakfast -70F; at noon nearly -77F. That day lives in my memory as that on which I found out that records are not worth making." -- Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World
Our first day in Buenos Aires was hot and steamy enough to give me flashbacks to my time in Houston -- fortunately all our other days there were a bit cooler - comfortable in shorts and a T-shirt. Ushuaia was cool enough for us to want a jacket, warm enough to want to take it off walking uphill -- it's built on the foothills of mountains high enough to have snow at Midsummer.
We were very lucky with our weather on the ship. We'd been scared of the Drake Passage, which can have 60' (20m) seas. That wasn't helped any by realizing that the rough seas shown in Master and Commander were supposed to be near the Horn, not all that far from where we'd be, or from running into an acquaintance who's in the Naval Reserve and who had stories about being in seas that rough near Antarctica. It turns out that seasickness patches (Scoploamine, I think) are available only by prescription in the US, but you can now get Bonine or Dramamine that's good for 24 hours. Considering the number of people we saw who felt ill even with the patches on, I'm glad we got the Bonine.
Neither of us get seasick, as far as we know, but neither of us had been in very rough seas or on a boat for days at a time. We were sort of curious, but I'm one of those people who will lay still in bed for hours rather than throw up once and get it over with. It didn't seem like an auspicious way to start a long trip, anyhow. So we sailed in the late afternoon, had no trouble with the ship's gentle rocking in the Beagle Channel, but took our pills that night just in case. It never got terribly rough -- only 3 or 4 on the Beaufort scale, is my guess based on a wall chart they had -- but quite a few people were missing from breakfast the next morning, and a few more walked out after seeing food. Neither of us ever really felt sick and we got to like the rocking of the ship -- very restful when you're in your bunk and you're rocking head to foot as well as side to side. Either that or the drugs made us
want to nap at every opportunity the first two days -- we weren't nearly as sleepy on the way back, when we took Bonine on the first day through the Drake Passage but were finally brave enough to skip it on the second and last day.
Oddly, the worst place was in the dining room, especially when
they covered the ports and set up a screen for slides during the lectures on days we were at sea. That was on the third level and our cabin was on the fifth, so it *must* have moved more but we never noticed it as much up there. It may have been just the optical effect of being in a big room.
When we got down to the islands and the mainland, we had a few gorgeous blue-sky days and several tranquil gray ones. There are no waves down there; when a wave hits an iceberg, it stops. The only time we felt some swells was when we kayaked out into the Bellingshausen sea -- that was enough motion to get me a little nervous, especially since I was in a single that day.
For kayaking they issued us drysuits that we wore over one layer of long underwear and a layer of fleece. Mostly we were warm enough while paddling, cold when we sat still. We wore more layers in the Zodis, which can move fast enough to generate their own icy wind. After we'd been paddling, they'd get us in a Zodiac and either tow the 'yaks or leave them for other Zodis to pick up and speed us back to the ship -- we'd always have to pull our gloves and hats back on for that. Brr.
In that water, which was just a degree or so above freezing, you only last two minutes or so if you all in. The drysuits are supposed to extend that to 20 minutes or more. One guy did fall in, his second day in a kayak and first in a single. But he picked the right time; it was immediately after he'd gotten in, just a few meters from the gangplank. He was first in his boat; I got in mine, paddled a little way, looked overand saw him in the water. He'd somehow ended up floating with his back against the ship and the boat against his front. The kayak guide was there almost immediately, and a Zodiac was a few seconds behind; they got him out and back on the ship right away. I picked up his paddle, so at least I
felt a bit useful. (They did ask if he wanted to go back out. He said, "Not today, I don't think," and stayed with a double for all subsequent paddling.)
We got some warm days on land, though -- I remember one which must have been in the high 40s (9 or so Celsius). After walking around a Gentoo colony for a while, several of us took off our windbreakers and sometimes our fleece jackets and just sat on some nice warm stones to watch what the Expedition Director kept referring to as "A Day in the Life of a Penguin". Most days were colder, but it never really got below freezing. I'm reading Apsley Cherry-Garrard's account of Scott's last expedition as part of which he and two other men did a trip in winter in -70 degree temperatures. I'll stick to summer down there, thanks.
Ironically enough, on the way back we got stuck in a snowstorm in Chicago. It was much colder than anything we'd seen in Antarctica and visibly was so low I was surprised they were flying at all. Our flight was canceled and we were lucky to get stand-by on one two hours later. That one took off two hours late itself -- we finally got to the runway, the only one long enough to use in that weather and so the one that all the plaes were using, and then we had to return to the terminal to de-ice again. To my surprise, we did get out on our second attempt and got home about 7 hours later than we'd expected. On the other hand, it's a balmy spring day here, with highs predicted to hit 78 (25C). That is not what I want in early January. Can I go back to Antarctica now?
"Whatever a penguin does has individuality, and he lays bare his life for the whole world to see. He cannot fly away. And because he is quaint in all that he does, but still more because he is fighting against bigger odds than any other bird, and fighting always with the most gallant pluck, he comes to be considered as something apart from the ordinary bird - sometimes solemn, sometimes humorous, enterprising, chivalrous, cheeky -- and always (unless you are driving a dog team) a welcome and, in some ways, an almost human friend." -- Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World.
I've always thought it was a bit silly to have a favorite animal -- I mean, a favorite animal species -- especially considering that people who tell me they "love rhinos" or whatever rarely seem to be acquainted with many actual instances of that species in the flesh. This is the main reason penguins are not my new favorite critters. On the other hand, I like the concept of totems, so maybe I can adopt a penguin as my totem, as long as that doesn't require me to start diving in icy waters and smelling like fish. I wish we could have brought one home for a pet. Probably the cats would disapprove. (Anyway, penguin guano is not something you'd want in the house and this desert doesn't have much of a supply of krill to feed them.)
Yes, we saw penguins. Lots and lots of penguins, Gentoos, Adelies, and Chinstraps. They have no fear of humans and will come right up to you to investigate. They are the most endearing creatures I've ever seen, mostly because they try so hard. They are not terribly well adapted to land, and will waddle and waddle until they get frustrated, try hopping for a few jumps, and sometimes flop down on their bellies on the snow and push with feet and flippers. Their ungainliness is deceiving though; colonies can be fairly far up out of the water, and that awkward motion can move them much faster than you'd think; a penguin can waddle almost as fast as a person can walk. In the water they suddenly turn into graceful miniature dolphins. They porpoise in the water in groups that look like synchronized swimming teams. Then one will suddenly do a very good duck imitation, bending backward to stick its head and tail out of the water before diving down again. Every once in a while one will furiously flap its wngs for a minute -- either they've just never given up on that darned flying thing, or else it's a heat-loss thing. Also, sometimes one will "sing": they point their beaks straight up and warble. Not sure if it's a mating thing or what.
I've seen a lot of writing about what a rough life penguins have, but I'm not sure it's true. They live in extreme conditions, of course, especially the Emperors who live on the ice by the main continent itself, but they are adapted to it. They like the cold. We saw our first colony, chinstraps, on a fairly warm day. Most of us had our outer jackets off and several of the penguins were plopped belly down in the snow to cool off. They do show some hesitation in diving into the ocean, but I think that has more to do with leopard seals than with cold water. Sometimes they'll cluster together on the edge of an iceberg until one falls off. The others will crane their necks over to see if the one who fell was grabbed by a seal and if not, some of the rest may jump in.
There were eggs and a few chicks out while we were there, though I never got a good look at one of the latter. Rudder did because he's taller -- the nests tended to be uphill from where we were walking and we couldn't go too close. The eco-ideal is to not only not disturb all local species, but to avoid doing anything to make them alter their behavior.
My only regret is that we didn't go to the Falklands or far enough south to see the more colorful species like King, Emperor, or Rockhopper penguins. The ones we did see were definitely a high point of the trip.
In contrast to the entertaining penguins, seals are basically giant fat slugs with a layer of blubber. On land they don't do much but sleep, belch, and fart. In the sea they're a bit more lively and apparently some tourists have been startled to find a leopard seal (which have big sharp teeth and prey on penguins) resting its head on their Zodiacs. We saw fur, leopard, and Weddell seals as well as sea lions, and got a few pictures to add to the ones we have from Oregon, California, and Alaska, but I still find it hard to get excited about the pinnipeds.
We saw several Minke whales, which are small whales much like dolphins, as well as a couple of the much larger (and lazier) humpbacks. The humpbacks were mostly "logging", which is just laying there literally sleeping like a log. We only got a glimpse of orcas, though people in a few of the Zodiacs did get good looks at them.
Our best whale experience was with a Minke one day when we were in the kayaks. We saw several Zodiacs gathered together, which is generally a sign that there's something to see, so we paddled over. The whale apparently decided that our bright yellow kayaks were far more interesting than the black Zodis, so it came over to investigate. He stayed and played with us for a very long time, poking its head above water, then diving down under us and turning up somewhere else entirely. In fact, he (or maybe she, I don't know how you tell) stayed so long that we had to go on because we were all getting cold -- generally this is unheard of; you stay and watch a whale until until the whale gets tired of you and goes away. Rudder and I were in a double 'yak; this whale came so close to us and dived so shallowly under us that I was getting a little nervous and was glad not to be in a single! I asked the staff naturalist later, though, and she said that whales never do knock over 'yaks or Zodis. Apparently they have enough of a sense of what we are to realize that just because they like the cold water, that doesn't mean we would.
By the way, since this essay is titled "Fauna", I will also comment on the flora we saw: moss. Lichen. A bit of grass in the South Shetlands. That's it.
"Speakin' in general, I 'ave tried them all --
The 'appy roads that take you o'er the world.
Speakin' in general, I 'ave found them good
For such as canot use one bed too long,
But must get 'ence, the same as I 'ave done
And go observin' matters till they die"
-- Kipling, Sestina of the Tramp Royale
I worked from home today because I was a total idiot and forgot to take my laptop back to work, having brought it home for the holidays for safety. As you will realize, this means that I drove all the way in, realized only then that I didn't have it, returned a few phone calls and drove all the way home. Oops.
Because of that little screw-up, I did have time to write about our trip. I just haven't figured out how to do it: where to start, what level of detail to use. I think I'll just start with an overview today, then write about various topics in more detail.
We booked our trip through Mountain Travel-Sobek, but the ship is actually run by Peregrine Adventures, an Aussie adventure travel company. They have several different trips; we took the shortest one, with 10 nights aboard ship, due to time and money constraints. Here's the itinerary and some other info. I would recommend Peregrine to anyone traveling to the Antarctic or the Arctic. The ship is totally sparkling clean and well run, there are only about 110 passengers, and the expedition staff are total knowledgeable pros. (I was less impressed with the Argentinian company Gador Viajes who ferried us to and from the ship, hotels, and airports in Argentina.)
Itinerary: We flew first to Buenos Aires, spent a day and a hlf there, and flew on to Ushuaia at the tip of South America in Tierra del Fuego. We boarded the ship on December 23 in Ushuaia, spent a day sailing though the Drake Passage, then hopscotched along the northern half of the Antarcitc Peninsula. There were every morning and afternoon to islands, bays or the mainland; we had signed up to kayak so had that option as well. Some outings were just cruising/kayaking, some involved hiking. We camped on the mainland one night on 2m of snow and stopped by the Ukrainian Vernadsky Research Station our last day.
I want to write much more about Buenos Aires, which we didn't especially like and Ushuaia, which we did; about the wildlife, including seals, whales and penguins -- penguins are the most endearing animals on earth; about icebergs, camping, Vernadsky; about the people along with us (ship's crew, staff, and passengers). Each is probably an entry on its own. A bit of advice: when dancing with crazy drunken sailors on New Year's Eve, make sure you have friends along to help extrcate you.
What we didn't know but were delighted to find out was that this trip was focused especially on photography. There were two professional photographers on staff(one was also a kayak guide) and they had invited the editor of Practical Photography magazine along. We have most of our pictures back (10 rolls of slide film, over 200 digital photos, just waiting for the waterproof disposal cameras to be developed) but we don't have the film ones (aka the good ones) digitized yet. Here, for a taste, is one of the digital ones, taken with my little Canon Elph:
Humph. Absolutely NO comments on the photos, to date. I think I'm going to sulk. *pout*.
I posted the rest of this yesterday, but I don't have time to say much today (teaching again) and anyway I really really want you all to see my Ireland pics -- what a beautiful country.
We finally got the film photos (as opposed to the digital ones) from Ireland back. They take so long because we have them put on PhotoCDs as well as having the slides developed. Here are a few samples:
Some ruins at Ferns
I think this may also be Ferns.
castle at Klkenny
Blarney Castle -- the grounds were beautiful and we were there just as everything was in bloom.
See what I mean?
Unfortunately the light wasn't ideal for photography when we were at the Cliffs of Moher.
But we enjoyed it there anyway.
The castle at Trim.
I deliberately put low-resolution small images here; nonetheless these images are copyright by me, 2003. If you are interested in obtaining a higher resolution
image that can be enlarged, or in seeing other images from Ireland and elsewhere, please e-mail me.