South by Southeast travel blog

 


When we booked a trip to Antarctica many, many months ago, it was so far away both in time and distance, that it didn't feel real. While we were still at home last summer, we began to pack our suitcases for this adventure so we could stow them in the motor home, but it was hard to imagine what we would need even after we read the program notes from the tour provider. We tried on our old rain pants, long winter underwear, wool hats, gloves, and heavy socks and replaced and augmented the collection of warm clothing while we were still at home. At the time it was early September and hot, but we figured it would be easier to get warm clothing at home than in Florida. As I took my carry-on out to the coach, one of the wheels shattered and broke in two. I was heart broken; that perfect bag has been on nearly every international trip we have been on since before we retired. I guess when I put it that way, I should not have been surprised that my bag gave up the ghost. But this allowed me to find a replacement after deliberation and research, rather than in a last minute, panicked way and I hope that the new one will become my new favorite.

We've spent the last few days retrieving our luggage from the various cubby holes in the motor home where we had it hidden away and reviewing the choices we made last summer. We can't both work on this at the same time; in the motor home extra space for piles of clothing is limited. We also found some videos on youtube that previous passengers had made from the identical trip we are about to take. We knew that the travel company will provide us with appropriate boots on loan and jackets to keep and it was a surprise to see them. I had envisioned the long down coat which I left at home that I used to wear when I supervised football games, but these were much lighter, shorter and easier to move around in. This hinted that the bitter cold we have been expecting is nothing we haven't dealt with as long time residents of the Chicago area since it is still summer (the equivalent of August) in Antartica. Long days of sunshine will give us ample opportunity to see it all as long as the clouds, rain or fog do not gather. The videos also showed us the terrain and the type of animals we will probably see. I have made some efforts this winter to learn the names of the various tropical birds we have enjoyed seeing around here, but now have turned what's left of my memory to the various types of penguins we can look forward to.

More and more cruises are including Antartica in their itineraries in some way, but we chose a ship that will spend six days putting us on shore (weather permitting) rather than sailing by as some cruises do. For an extra $500/person we could have chosen to sleep onshore in tents one night. The cruise itself is more expensive per diem than any other trip we have taken and we had to draw the line somewhere. We can say we have been to the 7th continent if we have walked on the land. The sleeping will have to take place nearby.

Issues: We have sailed the seas between South America and the Antarctic in the Drake Passage twice before and had smooth seas and temperate weather both times, which we heard is unusual. I hope we aren't tempting the fates by making this journey one more time. Ken never gets seasick and I cannot tolerate any sort of Dramamine, so I have packed scopolamine patches for the first time in case the waves are intolerable. We will be sailing on a ship that is hardened for icy conditions which spends its summers in Norway, rather than returning to the Caribbean. Norway is where it will be headed after this last cruise of the season. After we retire we bought a lifetime membership with a company that will evacuate us and our RV from wherever we are, in country or out. When we travel overseas, we are required to notify them of the dates and itinerary. It was dismaying to read that they will not come to Antarctica to rescue us. There will be a period of time where we will just have go stay healthy, although there is some sort of medical clinic onboard. This trip came with air arrangements included and we are less than happy with the results. The trip back to Florida will include three unique flights. This will take forever and our luggage will surely misplaced along the way.

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