Day 10 - Port Lockroy
Note from Mr. S.: My mom brought it to my attention that there are some misspellings and grammatical errors. I am doing my best! I am running from expedition to expedition - stealing a moment to document. I promise I will edit and fix! Thanks for understanding! :)
Our morning began with an introduction to Port Lockroy by new guests to our ship. 4 resident keepers of Port Lockroy came aboard to eat, shower and share with us some of the rich history of this port. Port Lockroy was used as an anchorage by whalers and established as Base A by the British in 1944, as part of a secret wartime initiative to monitor German shipping movements. The expedition was code named Operation Tabarin, after a well-known Paris nightclub, because team members would be staying there during the darkness of the Antarctic winter. After World War II, the station continued in a civilian capacity until 1964, when it ceased operations. This historic base was recently restored, and is now open to visitors as a museum. They have a post office – which is where a few post cards that Mr. S. wrote will be mailed.
Today marks the last day of landfall for us in Antarctica. Even though we are tired from the many days of steep hiking, it brings a sense of emotion as we descend from the ship to march upon the shores. We are sad because we know that our time on Antarctica is coming to an end. We are scared because we realize that in order to return to Buenos Aires, we have to cross the Drake Passage again. We have been told that the forecast suggests that we will have more mild waters crossing this time. However, the weather in Antarctica can change on a dime! We must be prepared.
After gearing up (snow pants, long underwear, waterproof boots, etc.), we made our way to the zodiac boat. The waters were significantly different this time than ever before; they were thick, slushy with a split pea soup consistency. Chunks of ice were floating all around us making maneuvering challenging for our driver. We would start, stop, and gain some momentum, only to be stuck in the frigid waters again! After several attempts, we made our way to our landing. Lisa, the expedition leader, was chest deep in the water wearing protective outerwear that allowed her to stay in the below freezing waters for hours! She pulled us upon the rocks so that we could climb our way up to the historic station.
The port now serves as a museum showing the most adventurous of guests how explorers lived many years ago. The structure was small, with windows certainly not treated to protect the dwellers from the winter weather. An antique stove displayed a recipe book for “Seal Brain Omelets.” It is hard to imagine how someone could desire to leave the warmth and comfort of home to set up residence in this station.
We will continue to hope that the Drake guides us home safely. All of the passengers know now that we are at the whim and care of Mother Earth!
12/17/2014 05:51:05 am
It's going to be an emotional disembarkation, for sure! I miss being on The Explorer. It's home for one of the most (if not the most) amazing experiences of the Grosvenor Fellows' lives and will forever represent all that is amazing and inspirational and exciting about our planet.
12/17/2014 05:57:33 am
P.S. No worries about the editing. We are all in awe of how much and how well you can write "on the fly."
12/17/2014 07:07:17 am
You know how hard it is to set aside the quiet time on something like this! I am glad you are enjoying. You know how moms are! Ha!
12/17/2014 07:15:44 am
I have really been enjoying your blog, Tom! When you get back home to Chicago, we will have to have dinner and hear all about your trip! Keep warm, and good luck with the Drake Passage. Safe Travels...!
12/18/2014 12:06:15 am
Patrick! So nice to hear from you. We can totally get together upon my return. This is only HALF of my journey - I move on to Rio and Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires for the next two week!
12/17/2014 09:17:33 am
Hi,Mr.Szymanski! It looks kind of like a sticker at first but I found out it was a Tatoo! Cool Ship You got there!The Drake Passage is a little bit FUN TO READ. I am so suprised That I read a lot of good stuff on your blog! Thanks For putting on this blog! Happy Winter.
12/19/2014 04:27:47 am
Hey Gregory, that isn't a tattoo! It is a hand stamp. I hope you are enjoying the last day of school!
Kiya & Kru
12/17/2014 10:39:30 am
Hi Mr. S it is KIYA,
12/18/2014 12:04:18 am
12/18/2014 01:21:53 am
This has been an awesome adventure! I love the beautiful pictures and reading the blog. I can't wait to hear all about this experience.
Ms. B & the Love Bugs
12/18/2014 06:08:20 am
Hi Mr. S- We are loving the pictures of you with the penguins! We're sorry we haven't written to you in a while. We've been reading your blog but our work is keeping us so busy that we don't always have time to respond. We know this was from an earlier post but we were shocked when we read the story about the bird that stole the penguin egg. Myles and many of the other kids enjoy hearing about all of the hill climbs that you've been doing. We loved reading the part about how you jumped into the water. Today, we talked about opinion writing and we gave our opinions on whether or not you should have jumped into the freezing water. The majority of the Love Bugs think you should have jumped in. Even those who didn't agree are still proud of you for doing it. BTW great use of descriptive language when you were talking about that experience. We loved the line where you mentioned it felt like a million needles going into your skin. We hope you know we miss you very much and we can't wait to see you soon!
12/18/2014 06:19:54 am
12/20/2014 03:48:26 am
where are you in Antarctica right now.Ronan
12/20/2014 04:03:18 am
I hope you don't turn into a penguin because it's cold out.rONAN
12/20/2014 07:42:15 am
Ronan, you are hilarious. When you asked this question, I was no longer in Antarctica. I was in the Drake Passage. At this moment, I am in Buenos Aires, about to leave tomorrow for Rio! I will keep blogging!
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Mr. Szymanski is a 7th Grade Math, Reading and Writing Teacher at Gary Elementary school in Chicago, IL He is bringing the world to his classroom with the help of National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. Here, he chronicles his adventures to Antarctica and South America in December 2014.