Friday, December 7, 2018

Antarctic ice grips your senses

Vertical blue streaks interact with horizontal layers of ice at Portal Point.
On our Antarctic excursion, the first sight of glaciers outside our cabin window was totally exhilarating. Later that morning, as we skimmed the ocean’s surface in a Zodiac from the expedition ship to our first continental landing at Portal Point, the peninsula’s glacial plateau came ever closer. Beautiful slopes of snow and ice and a spectacular rocky peak of a nunatak rising out of the glacial masses was simply breathtaking.

Variations in color, shape, and texture make each iceberg unique.
For me, seeing the indescribably beautiful ice of Antarctica was emotional. The enormous ice sheet stretches as far as the eye can see and is even visible from space. Viewing this distinctive sight seemed surreal, unlike anything else on Earth.
Maneuvering around brash ice can be tricky.
 It’s this amazing visual that brings most visitors to Antarctica—the full kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, and sizes. Shades of green, blue, and white. Some icebergs smooth and glistening; others with a grainy or crunchy appearance. Pointy, triangular, chunky, or flat on top. Small bits of brash ice or giant islands moving slowly through the water.

Compression of ice over layers of air make interesting structures
in the ocean.
But if you listen closely, you realize that the ice has a voice. The most noticeable sound is the loud crack heard when a chunk separates from a larger mass and falls into the ocean, a process known as calving. If the chunk is very large itself, the noise can be almost deafening—and the situation dangerous. But there are more subtle sounds such as the whoosh of gases releasing from floating bits of ice or the gentle swishing of movement in the ocean.
It's hard to imagine than 2/3 of the iceberg lies underwater!
Touch a piece of glacial ice, and you’ll immediately feel a stinging cold. Glacial ice is denser and has larger crystals than ordinary ice, so it feels much colder and melts much more slowly. Put a piece in your drink, and it will last all day.

Sharp points are common since pieces of ice often break off
from large icebergs such as this pure white beauty.
Another sensation created by icebergs surprised me. At times, when we were floating in a Zodiac, it felt like the sea was shifting under the weight of these enormous ice sculptures. Since most of an iceberg is underwater, the whole structure could heave with the rolling waves. One day, as we approached Cierva Coves at the southern end of Trinity Island, our Zodiac dodged brash ice while we watched icebergs surf the swells, rising and falling with ominous force. Needless to say, we kept our distance.
Wind and water can create peep holes like this in the ice.
From our guides we learned that even though many glaciers are retreating and there is 40 percent less ice worldwide than 50 years ago, sea ice such as in Antarctica is advancing and as a whole is increasing in volume (surface area and thickness). Still warmer temperatures affect the food chain and wildlife in different ways, which is an ongoing cause for concern.

The blue color of this smooth iceberg contrasts with clouds in the sky.
The ice of Antarctica is a wonderland of incredible beauty. To me, the experience felt like skimming through a dream—like Alice in the rabbit hole viewing impossible sights that couldn’t be imagined unless you were there. I never tired of watching the infinite ice forms move through the ocean water. What a thrill it was to discover this magical land!
The bumpy surface of this iceberg resembles a half-eaten snow cone.
 Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Adventure of a lifetime

When it comes time to retire from the working world, do you know what you want to do next?
For many boomers (and boomer pluses), having the time and ability to travel is a dream come true. But where do you start? And how do you plan travel? Taking short trips (a week or two) can ease retirees into a travel mindset and test their tolerance levels for lengthier sojourns away from home.

For David Moore and his wife Helene, retirement was an opportunity to plan the trip of a lifetime—15 countries in 10 months. After that monumental adventure, David, a
Brit who worked in advertising and marketing before retirement, wrote about their adventures in a book he called Turning Left around the World, a title that is appropriate since they decided to follow the sun and go west on their journey.

This is a delightful book that recounts of their adventures; it is nostalgia but a whole lot more. Moore has shared good times and challenges of long-term travel in an entertaining account, starting with the intriguing method they used to decide where to go and the company that helped them plan their custom journey.

In addition to describing the destinations and highlights along the way, he includes fascinating facts about the history and culture of places they visited.  Using a chipper British conversational style, Moore describes the landscapes, food, and people they discovered while traveling on 53 flights, 30 trains, 8 boats, 3 cruise ships, a hot air balloon, and a multitude of other transportation means.
A map included in the book follows the path they took—a path that led them to Chile, Ecuador, and Peru in South America. They continued on to New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and Japan—all the while sharing personal stories and impressions of the exciting places visited and adventures experienced.

If you have a sense of wanderlust and an empty  or nearly-empty nest you’ll enjoy reading this memoir. Along with more than 100 colorful photos, Moore’s warm and witty writing style might just convince even reluctant travelers to set up a similar personalized journey. According to Moore using one-on-one guides in notable destinations can make all the difference in what you get out of traveling to far away and exotic places.
For more information check the author’s website  
The book is available in paperback and eBook at Amazon and other online retailers.