Sunday, May 27, 2018

Stunning Scenic Beauty!

Are you ready for some ‘beauty shots’?  There’s definitely focus on the hunt, particularly for ‘large white fluffies’ as our expedition team describes the bears.  But the scenery is absolutely stunning.  There are so many OMG moments throughout the day, when you glimpse a view from a window during a presentation, or in your cabin, or at dinner.  The temperatures outside range from 30 to 34 degrees.  But you see this and you must scramble your camera and get out on deck.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Birds, too . . .

There’s wildlife in the air here, too.  It ranges from the black-and-white guillemots to puffins with orange feet and clown-like faces.  The guillemots are called the ‘penguins of the north’.  They're better at swimming than at flying.  And they, too, look like they’re dressed in tuxedos for a formal dinner.


Landings are mostly about experiencing the terrain here, although we did have a sweet encounter with a couple of reindeer still in their winter white.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Safari in Snow and Ice

In Antarctica it was all about the penguins. We saw them by the thousands, and moved amongst them during landing hikes and zodiac tours.  And the only primary predators were the whales.

It’s very different here in the Arctic, where the polar bears and walruses are the star attractions, and we could become ‘prey’.  This is much more like an African safari.  Crew and staff have their eyes peeled all along the way, and a sighting could come at any time.  When there is a ‘find', the ship approaches slowly and quietly, so as not to spook the animals.  And the captain plows into the ice at times to get us a vantage.  As a precaution, our guides do carry pistols and rifles, loaded with both warning flares and bullets, when we go ashore. 

All of those penguins were fantastic, and so much fun!  But there’s an entirely different excitement here, as we search for ‘big game’ amid the ice and snow.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Our First Bear!

The announcement is made that our shore landing will be cancelled.  It’s because the Captain has spotted the first Polar Bear of our trip!  We all head for the bridge or bow.  And the ship slowly, quietly approaches shore, with all of us silent except for the whirring of shutters.  The focus isn’t perfect, despite my long lens, since there’s still a quarter-mile between us and the star of the show.  He really is majestic, in both is image and his movement.  And there’ something very special about sharing this kind of experience with others.  It’s all smiles: we’re in awe, almost to the point of disbelief  .  .  .

Friday, May 18, 2018

We Have Ice!

We're just four hours from port on National Geographic Explorer and it's apparent that internet access will be spotty.  So I'm going to post when I can.  This is 11:30 p.m. in the 'Land of the Midnight Sun'.  We're already cruising an idyllic fjord, and we just passed a Russian settlement.  And we have ice!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Oslo, Norway: We're Going to the Arctic!

Brother Joel and I had such a fantastic time on our Antarctic Expedition in January, 2016, that we’re now headed north to the opposite pole.  We’ll be on the same National Geographic/Lindblad ship in the Arctic!  And we were even to be in the same cabins.  But, better yet, we’ve been upgraded to larger accommodations.

Our gateway is Oslo, Norway, where we’re enjoying four days of exploring on our own before we join our shipmates for a charter flight to Svalbard, in the far north of Norway.   Oslo is such a beautiful, clean, safe, design-forward city.  Norwegians were declared the ‘Happiest People on Earth' in the 2017 ‘World Happiness Report’, and we’ve found them to be among the friendliest, too.  They’ve been out ‘glorying’ in some of the first sun of the summer.  And what great timing: we're here for their Independence Day celebration, which seems even a bigger deal than our 4th of July!  

The name of our expedition is ‘Land of the Ice Bears’, so you can bet we’ll be seeing Polar Bears.  We're not assured of good internet access in the Arctic, but you'll see some bears, too, when I'm able to post them.