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Antarctica Through A Tattered Lens

I could probably do another 5 or 6 posts on Antarctica, but I’m afraid it’s like showing home movies – you can only take so many of them. Heeheehee! So I decided to wrap up the trip with a series of photos that are either unusual, or particular favorites – you, know, the things I see from behind my “tattered lens.”

Enjoy!

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Whales feeding…not bubble net, but still cool

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A Skua eating a stolen penguin egg…it’s a rough world out there

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Our ship could go places not many can…lots of this in the water in some places

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Chin strap penguins – duh…

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We didn’t see many sunsets. This was an amazing one.

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A humpback and orcas in the same frame – our guides said it was unusual.

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Great shot of the brood pouch. A moment later he used his beak to poof it closed.

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Yep, we just kept going through this…

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Way cool!

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Adelie Penguin

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And the sun sets on an amazing trip to the bottom of the world.

My Poor Garden – the rehabilitation begins…

As Spring begins to peek it’s head out, it’s time to get the garden shaped up.

It’s been years since it’s been the beautiful oasis I first created.

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When I set it up, I had few distractions, and plenty of time to tend it. My vision was that it would look like an abandoned space where nature, in all it’s glory, took over – beautiful flowers and lots of little treasures to discover. My inspiration was the gardens we had seen in the UK -over-grown and lush.

What I had NOT considered was that the drip irrigation we needed to use to keep it lush, (as opposed to the wetter conditions in the UK) needed to be maintained, and that over-grown element made it terribly difficult for my maintenance guy (aka Mr. Tattered) to get in and make repairs. Somewhere in my little pea brain I thought you put drip in, and that was it. Done.

So, it became a bone of contention between us that maintenance wasn’t happening, and when it did get done, there were often harsh words. At one time, he went in and hacked down a bunch of my plants so he could get to the drip, and from that day on, my interest in the garden was virtually gone.

For a couple of years now, it has been left to its own devices, and it hasn’t been a pretty picture.It gets sadder and sadder each season.

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Once we yanked out the front yard grass and replaced it with drought resistant plants, I knew the garden area was doomed, and began making plans for a starker look. But it’s hard to do stuff you don’t want to do, so I dragged my heels. Finally Mr. Tattered suggested we have someone come in and do the demolition and start over, and I jumped on it. I just didn’t have it in me to spend hours and hours laboring over something I didn’t really want to see happen.

So, we got an estimate, and made the appointment to have the work done. I went out and marked the few bushes I wanted them to leave, and dragged all the garden decor out and into a pile to be gone through, and either rehabilitated or tossed at a later date.

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Note to self: When you care about how something looks, don’t leave your spouse in charge.

I came home to discover that yes, technically the plants I wanted left there, were still there. But they had been severely cut back. My wild, natural looking bushes were all hacked up and trimmed like they were hedges – flat and ugly, not an ounce of charm remaining. I was so mad I could hardly see straight. It took a couple of hours before I was able to convince myself that they were like a bad haircut – they’ll grow back.

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So. It’s done. And I lived through it. The garden area is now pretty much a blank canvas, but I need to paint on it in a style that isn’t mine.

One of the casualties of the moving stuff was that one of my big bird feeder bit the dust, so I got to buy a new one. I did that today and got it put together. So, there’s that.

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The birds were not happy with the change in their environment, but they have decided what is left is better than nothing and are slowly coming back.

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If they can get over it, I guess I can, too.

So, we’ve got a lot some travel coming up, followed by the heat of summer, so we’ll probably wait until early fall to replant. Hopefully in the next few months I can get some repair done on some of the decor, and come up with a solid plan for the new look.

Incredible Icebergs

All along the route we took toward the Antarctic Peninsula we saw amazing icebergs, but the best were seen from the zodiac on little side trips.

My happy place has for a long time, been on the ocean. I thought it was just in tropical climates, but come to find out, it’s wherever there’s an ocean! Even bundled up and having to freeze my hands by taking gloves off to get photos, I LOVE being on the ocean and documenting what I see…

As beautiful as these photos are, they don’t tell the whole story. The majesty of these ice sculptures is beyond my ability to put into words, so I’ll let them speak for themselves.

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Finishing up the zodiac tour with a little Tia Maria and hot chocolate was a great way to end the day – the ONLY way to make going back to the ship bearable. I could have stayed out for hours longer without being bored!

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Penguins, Penguins, and More Penguins

I’ve gotta confess. I’m pretty sure I took about a thousand pictures of penguins. It took me hours to whittle them down to the low hundreds, and it hasn’t been easy to decide which few to show you.

They are just so darn cute, and every one that waddled by had it’s own charm.

So I’m going to be disciplined and just show you a small number of them.

These penguins are the ones we saw the most of on this trip – the Gentoos.

The penguins can be dirty little critters. They can’t leave their nests (which are made of rocks) until their mate is there, or the predator birds will eat the eggs. So they have to poop in and/or near the nest. They get it all over themselves, then when they go out into the ocean to feed, get cleaned up.

Many of the nesting areas we went to could be smelled before we could actually see them! But we went towards the early part of the season, when it wasn’t too warm yet, so the smell wasn’t oppressive like it can be later in the season.

This is a great photo which shows the rock nest, the eggs, the poop around the nest, and on him/her, and the brood pouch (the area on the penguin right above the eggs where the feathers pull apart and allow skin contact with the eggs.)

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The penguins spend a lot of their time stealing rocks from other nests and taking them to their mate…

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Often the nests are far from the ocean, and the penguins make trails in the snow leading up and back.

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Enjoy their cuteness!

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Aren’t they just the cutest critters!?

And Finally, Antartica

I guess this could count as the most exotic of all our travels thus far. Very few people ever end up going to Antartica.

And there’s a good reason for that. It’s not easy to get there. Up until fairly recently, the trip had to start with a several day long venture across the Drake Pass, one of the most turbulent patches of sea on the planet.

Since Mr. Tattered gets sea sick in rough seas, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go.

But then he discovered a tour group that does a “fly-over” where you fly out of Punta Arenas, Chile to St. George Island, just north of the Antarctic Peninsula and board a ship there, by-passing the tough part. And it was “trip on!”

We left from Punta Arenas in full Antarctic garb – which we thought was kind of weird, but turned out there isn’t exactly a terminal where we could change. In fact, there isn’t really an airport. Or even a real runway.

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It was quite a hike in ice to get down to where we caught the zodiac to ferry out to our ship.

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Before we knew it, we were seeing ice bergs. It’s not like it was the first time we’d seen ice bergs, but somehow seeing them there was more powerful.

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But the most exciting part was seeing our first penguins. Man, did I take a mess of pictures of penguins… These are from a bit of a distance. I’ll show you close-ups in another post. Until you’re sick of them, I’m sure!

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This sign was posted on the bulletin board of the ship…

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I guess technically there was a sunrise and sunset, but it never got completely dark. We were grateful for blackout shades in our stateroom!

Next up, LOTS of penguins!

 

 

 

Can We Talk About Booze?

Those of you who know me well, know I’m not much of a drinker.

I’ve been having a bit of a relationship with Mike’s Hard Mango punch (we’ve been known to shower together from time to time!) and yes, I do enjoy my Pino Grigio (with ice, of course) from time to time, as well. But to sit down and just drink, especially hard liquor, well, that’s really not me.

But then in Peru I was introduced to Pisco Sours. I guess the drink closest to it here in the states would be a Margarita, but they were even better. Pisco is similar to Tequila, but made from white grapes instead of agave. What makes Pisco Sours a little more adventuresome than Margaritas is that they’re made with raw egg whites. Kinda yuck, huh? But hey…when in Rome. We had to try them. And for me, it was love at first sip. Maybe it was the environment, who knows. All I know is I could hardly wait for my next one.

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In Cusco we went to what we thought was a Pisco museum. Yeah, it sounded a little odd to have a museum dedicated to Pisco, but hey? Maybe there was a big history to it? We had to check it out.

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Turns out that it was a Pisco bar! But in addition to being able to get a good drink, you could take a little Pisco Sour-making class. So my bartender (Mr. Tattered) took the class and made us a couple of drinks from the ground up.

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And they were yum.

So following the advice of our tour leader, we headed for the grocery store and bought ourselves a bottle of pisco to take home with us. We were only home for a few weeks, before heading out again, but we never cracked open the bottle.

Now fast forward to our trip to Chile. They make pisco sours there, as well. It was good to have one (or two or so) again.

But then we went down to Patagonia in southern Chile, and there, they add a twist – Calafate Sours. Pisco Sours, but made with Calafate juice. And man. Does that elevate the lofty Pisco Sours to even higher heights!

Night after night at Patagonia Camp, we indulged.

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When we left, I knew I’d be getting some Calafate juice when we got back to Santiago to take back home with us, rather than haul it to Antartica and then back to Santiago again before heading home.

But there was just one little problem I had not expected. Calafate Sours are a SOUTHERN Chile thing. Calafate was not to be found up north. I was so sad. But, I figured I’d be able to find it on line, so I wasn’t too distraught.

But, my search has been met with failure thus far. Note to self: Next time you fall in lust with something in a foreign country, buy it then.

So how am I going to get back to Patagonia to buy Calafate juice? Talk about a long trip to the grocery store!

Patagonia II

The time we spent at Torres del Paine in Patagonia was nothing short of amazing. I took SOOOOO many photos that it is really hard to decide which ones to show you.

I started with a few yesterday, but I thought you might enjoy a few more! None of these photos are touched up in any way…just the natural beauty we were seeing with our eyes!

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We saw numerous herds of guanacos…

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These 2 little guys were very curious about us…

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