2012 Calendar and Holiday Print Sale!


My 2012 Calendar is here!

I put some of my top images there for you to gaze upon monthly. The calendar is 20% off right now and ground shipping is guaranteed to arrive before christmas until December 7th!

Save 50% off all prints with the coupon code: WELOVEWINTER

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Preview and order the 2012 Calendar here!




"Glacier in the sun" takes top photograph on google plus


Plus Extract, the online site by the popular photo extract magazine finds the top images for the day on google plus. For the latest issue I have the privilege of taking the number one photo! My previously released "Glacier in the sun" shot is featured for the number 1 image on the page here:

Photo Extract, Plus Extract

Larches of sunshine Valley before and after RAW processing


larches of sunshine valley, before/after

Sunshine Valley, Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada.

I will show you the before and after of my RAW conversion, it’s my hope to demonstrate why a camera requires a photographer and without human direction, the photos they take aren’t accurate, and hardly representative of the experience it captured.

It was a spectacular day in the Sunshine Valley. I was sick as a dog but the beautiful sight of the larches kept my mind off of it. As my mood improved the weather worsened, as if mother nature was trying to offset my enjoyment. The wind began blowing and dark clouds started rolling in as a wall of rain headed towards my direction. The view of the lake was soon framed by the dark clouds and now the plain vista behind the lake was the dramatic view I was looking for.

In real life these clouds had the drama I was looking or, and as my highly evolved human eyes took in the scene I could see the darkness in the sky, and the subtle highlights in the trees. Most people don’t realize how much of a gift our vision is, until they see how the camera sees the world. It’s limited range of view compresses the highlights in the sky so that they are almost white. I look at the camera and think, “that stormy sky is not white, I’ll be able to bring that back later”.

What we don’t realize is the sky is always super bright to the camera, and even though the camera shows a white sky, shooting in high quality RAW my camera has secretly stored the details of that dark sky in there for me to coax out in my RAW processing.




This was all accomplished in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, with the brush and graduated filter tools by selectively decreasing and increasing the exposure. This process is called dodging and burning, and has likely been applied to every professional photograph you’ve ever seen. This technique has been around since the days of film, largely unchanged, it’s just done on computers now. Every photo needs to be calibrated with a human eye, and this is how you show others what it really feels like to be there.

The Skua, Lay down for your wildlife shots


The SkuaAn inquisitive animal is an intelligent one Gold harbour, South Georgia, Antarctic island.

The Skua is one of the most visible predators of penguins in the Antarctic, but also the most intelligent. I parent penguin will often chase after a skua to defend it's egg or chick, but unfortunately for the penguin, the Skua will work in teams. While the parent is distracted the other bird will come in, and they will get to feed. A penguin egg or a baby chick is a high reward for a Skua, I know it might be terrible to watch, but the skuas need to eat too (and their chicks are cute!).

Photographic details It was a joy to get a shot like this, it's times like these that carrying two cameras really comes in handy. I was watching the King Penguin colony, ready to shoot close up shots of penguin behaviour with my telephoto when the skua flies in right in front of me. I pulled out my other camera with my wide angle lens (16-35mm f2.8) and managed to get a few of these shots while the Skua pecked at my polariser. [lightbox id="2" size="small"] While this happened by accident, I maximised my chances of interacting with wildlife by laying down flat on the ground. In this position not only do I have the best viewpoint, I'm also not considered a threat and more of a curiosity to wildlife. Laying down I have had elephant seals snuggle me, penguins walk on me and of course, skuas investigating my lens. I also chose to keep a lot of the background and penguin colony in this shot, keeping this bird in full context of it's environment.

This is a blog post originally posted on http://www.kylefoto.com, If you like this be sure to check out the Antarctic Worlds gallery!

The Day in Onomatopoeia

Half Moon Island & Barrientos Island Anchor: gahgun dadun dadun dadun.. clonk

Zodiac: Bvvvvvvvvvvvv

People: Wheeeeeeeee! tromp tromp

Gentoo Penguins: gaaaaa-hee! gaaaaa-hee! gaaaaa-hee! Gaaaaaaaaaaa...

Skua: Eeraaaa raaa raaa eeraaa!

People: click click click beep oooooh!

Chinstrap Penguin: Chachacheeecharararara

Weddell Seal: Weeeeeeeeoombooooomp..boomp...boomp click booomp

Wind: Whooooooooooshshahahahashoomshoom

Elephant Seal: Braaaaaaaap. ppbt..pbbt...burp...pfffffft argh argh argh ppbpbt!

Leopard Seal: ......

People: tromp tromp, splish eeee!

Zodiac: Bvvvvvvvv-splash-vvvvvv

Humpback Whale: Pffffwah....pffwah...shloomp

People: shooka shooka shooka woow!

Hot chocolate: shlurp shlurp Mmmmmmmm

Ship life is dementedly awesome

We made it outside Elephant Island, the wind and weather too rough to domuch but sail past. We bobbed into Point Wild and peered at the beach Shackleton and his men survived on from afar, it=B9s almost entirely receded. We enjoyed dinner that day with the dramatic ice covered cliffs serving as = a great backdrop during dinner.

Being aboard the Clipper Adventurer (or any ship) is unusual, at times it feels like an odd little country in it=B9s own, floating among the world, functioning perfectly in it=B9s quirky little way.

After spinning around Brown Bluff an=

d the Argentinian Esperanza station amidst 40 knot winds, we found a place to land near Esperanza. We dropped people off for 15 minutes to revel in their landing then made it back to the ship before the weather stranded us on shore. From my zodiac I watched Adelie penguins tottering across the beach, the white rings around their eyes making them look as surprised as they were when we made like Normandy and invaded their beach.

I thought it was a great landing considering the circumstances, and I was very enthusiastic about the Adelie penguins and the beautiful icebergs looming outside Hope Bay. I would talk about the cool things we saw but nobody really cared, they were all in raptures over touching that rock, it=B9= s about the experience right? Well, thank goodness they=B9ve had a good time.

We=B9re heading to Half Moon and Barrientos island, they are usually quite easy to land in, so I=B9m sure we=B9ll have a good day tomorrow.

Ever at sea

With the exception of an afternoon in the Orcadas, we=B9ve been at sea for 5days, it feels like 2.

I was surprised it=B9s been this long, it=B9s just a blur of meals, bird sightings and ice flowing by. Thank goodness this is such a comfortable ship, normally cabin fever would be spreading faster than H1N1, but the numerous public areas, inspiring lecture staff and calm company has kept it well at bay. Last night we were half way from the Orcadas to Elephant Island, and this morning that situation didn=B9t change. We ended up getting into 10/10ths ice and had to head north to get out of the ice, It was clogged. We were barely moving at 1 knot and the entire night the ship was echoing with the sounds of ice scraping and bumping against the hull, the ship jerking and twitching many times a minute.

For some reason I couldn=B9t get to sleep, so I decided to do a time-lapse of the ship moving in the ice. I head up to top deck, set up my tripod that wa= s secured to the deck with a quick grip I got from home depot, and a shower cap from the hotel around the camera to protect if from the elements. It wa= s cold and foggy, but it=B9s twilight at 1 am, while we are not far south enoug= h for complete daylight, we never have complete darkness this time of year. The time-lapse is interesting as it really hit home how the sea ice was throbbing and ever moving, but down at our normal scale it looks almost stationary. I meander around the bridge, stare at the radar cluttered with ice, peer at the GPS and navigational charts sadly and head up to collect my camera afte= r leaving it alone for half an hour.

I decide to scout the ship for more suitable shots, when I come across the bar where *ahem* individuals with less to do find other ways to occupy such large expanses of sea time. I was lucky enough to arrive in time to witness someone casually throw up on their leg as I casually make a note of what pants they were wearing, prepared to make sure they don=B9t wear the same one= s the next day. It=B9s not like it was rough, the sea ice dampens the swell and waves.=20 With all the bumping and scraping I find that suddenly half the ship is awake, wandering around like zombie bananas with their yellow quark parkas, leaning over the railings and staring down at ice and bumping around the bridge, It feels like morning but it=B9s still the middle of the night. I decide to pack it in fully expecting Elephant Island to still be a hundred nautical miles away in the morning. And it was, we barely moved but later in the morning we could see a break i= n the ice, I abandoned my oatmeal with cinnamon, yoghurt, cashews, and dates with my egg white omelette and gathered on the outer decks with everyone in anticipation of finally breaking free! We now expect to see Elephant Island later tonight, and will steam as fast as we can to hopefully get a =B3continental=B2 landing in Antarctica before we have to end this trip.


So refreshed! I have tried 6 times to get to the Orcadas (South Orkney Islands) and this this is only the second time I¹ve made it. It was a short visit, but at least this was the first time in almost a year since I¹ve seen anything that resembles Antarctica. Our approach is extraordinary, strange reflections of light amongst the fog and snow portrays the illusion of land when a tabular iceberg over 3 kilometres long looms into view. Everyone on the bridge scrambled to various navigational equipment and charts in disbelief, thinking for a moment ³where are we?² as we weren¹t due to see land yet. We had to change course numerous times to dodge these monoliths that have likely sailed up from from the Weddell sea. Lunch time felt lively once again as the dining room windows were filled with the silent jagged figures of icebergs floating by, much more exciting than the open sea we¹ve had for the last day and a half. The Orcadas faded into view, barley visible in the slurry of rain and snow. But it felt like the Antarctic, everything was covered in snow and ice, and even small islands had glaciers pouring off them. It might have been considered a cold and gloomy day, but it was zesty and immediately made me feel better than I¹ve felt in months! Adelie penguins porpoised in the water and we hopped in our zodiacs and zipped to shore with glee! the South Orkneys (or Orcadas if you go by the Argentinian name) seem to have the same weather all the time, people who dislike the cold find this place to be depressing and hostile, but getting out here was exactly what I needed. Geology, Seismology and meteorological studies are big here, and definitely not boring as a tidal waves have been experienced here situated on the edge of the Scotia plate. This station was established by the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition in 1904 and has been continually maintained by the Argentines ever since, making it the oldest station in the Antarctic. It was a short visit but it looked like most people were ready to head out.

Now I think we are being particularly ambitious. Our short stop in the Orcadas is because we are now on our way towards Elephant Island, meaning another full day at sea. I¹ve managed to see this place with my own eyes twice out of countless expeditions, but now there is even talk of landing. When will that luck run out? Landing where Shackleton¹s men spent four months, surviving on penguins and seals, even though the place has changed beyond recognition having happened nearly 100 years ago, would be very cool.

The night was full of celebrations as we marvelled in experiencing the antarctic and finally had a break from being at sea so much. There are two lounges on the ship, but the smaller one has more of a community atmosphere and was packed. I¹m always amazed by the drinking going on here, to watch people deal with hangovers multiple time a week, some every day, I don¹t see how it¹s worth it. I suppose I¹m lucky that alcohol has little effect on my brain¹s pleasure centre, otherwise I can¹t help but think my liver would be pickled by now. We went down to the crew bar in the depths of the ship, to give a go at karaoke. I sang great balls of fire, and greased lightning, and sadly being the only sober person there was the only staff member who had the courage to participate. That surprised me a little, you¹d think there would be some immediate benefits to drinking, why can¹t people come out of their shell and have fun? The rest of the crew was enthusiastically going for it, it¹s a big part of their culture in the Philippines. It was fun, but being the only participant among the staff team it wasn¹t the most interactive experience I¹ve had.

I was going to write some kind of conclusion but now I see yummy snacks in the lounge, Oooooo! Dumplings and yummy rolls, with plum sauce, one of the staff is going to make an announcement about how great the icebergs are to clear out the lounge, then we will descend upon the buffet, hehehehe...

The greatest place

Gold Harbour! This is the place that is present in my mind every time I say how great South Georgia is, it¹s the embodiment of all that is great about this place! The wide harbour surrounds us on either side, like the island is greeting us with it¹s greatest gift: A curving beach filled with King penguins, sprinkled with elephant seals, some fully grown, many still weening, gracefully lined with tusset grass falling to a backdrop of rising mountains crested with hanging glaciers framing the entire scene. The geological and natural forces were particularly inspired in the formation of this place, everything comes together in the most epic finale on our last visit in South Georgia.

Even a blind man will find this extraordinary world is populated with a cacophony of sounds: Male elephant seals sparring and burping, King penguins throw their heads back calling in ecstasy, baby Kings tweet and freak out flapping their flippers madly spinning in circles accompanied with a background of rolling waves gently washing the shores with the occasional rumble of the hanging glaciers above us. Stimulating tactile sensations abound! Soft grey sand is warm under my feet, weeners snuggle up and explore our human figures with their snouts, and small gusts of wind patter me with penguin feathers. I close my eyes, and I can feel a great pulse of life in this place.

Most people would consider the olfactory experience here to be offensive, but now these smells are associated with the most profound experiences I¹ve ever had. Much like a horse rider will whiff a jacket and exclaim with joy ³it smells like barn!², I do the same with my penguin parka.

But it¹s not over yet!

The plan is to head over to cooper bay, the place we always put on the itinerary and never manage to get to. It¹s positioned in the worst place and always ends up getting too much swell. You¹ll look down at the gangway and see it¹s 10 feet above the water, and a millisecond later it¹s 10 feet under the water. This time it was calm, I¹ve been here 6 times before and never managed to get this far, I¹m feeling lucky! Cooper bay is both desirable and difficult to get to simply because it¹s hosted by Macaroni penguins. They are extremely abundant but they love to colonize in the most inconvenient places for tourist operations, climbing and nesting on rocks and mountain slopes. Having to make those traverses every day to feed in the ocean, combined with their unusual feathery crest they seem pretty retarded. I¹d love to fast forward in time to see if they even survive, if they don¹t I might just think that they deserved it. However that will likely not be true, apparently they are one of the most abundant penguin worldwide, contrary to their difficult life and shorter lifespan, they are likely here to stay.

We scooted around craggy shores while the Macaronis stared down at us from their rocky perches and at least managed to check them off the wildlife list, then back to the ship it was to our last stop in Drygalski fjord.

It was extremely windy but we at least saw a glacier calve in the rain while drinking hot toddies on the bow. This is our last look at South Georgia before we head for the South Orkney islands. I¹ve only been there once before, I hope we make it again, we¹ve been lucky so far.


his morning we had an awesome time in Godshul. I love how things change sosuddenly. When we were leaving the ship it was cold and windy, not so unusual. Passengers freeze on the way to the landing site, but moments afte= r landing, the clouds part, the sun shines and suddenly it is hot. The air wa= s completely still and the tusset grass seems to contain all the heat, it fel= t like 20 degrees.=20

We had to make our way through the tusset grass, big mounds of tufty grass, that create a landscape that was likely inspiration for Dr. Suess, each mound lush enough you could easily hide thousands of people amongst an entire field of them. The entire place was also riddled with fur seals, so as staff we had to be vigilant and spread ourselves across the path so travelers don=B9t get lost or surprised by a seal hidden in the paths between the tusset. After the last few people walked past me, I thought I would jus= t sit, watch and film the Elephant seals in front of me. I heard them burp, fart and wallow in a big steaming pile in front of me, occasionally glancin= g at me with their big black eyes. Hadleigh and I chatted about them and random things, and eventually in the hot sun, I fell asleep. I can=B9t help but feel a connection with the Elephant seals given we were both sharing th= e warmth and soft tusset grass.

Grytviken was particularly interesting this time around. We did the usual thing, we gave a toast to =B3The Boss=B2 at Shackleton=B9s grave, and I headed down to the whaling station to take a look around the site. I was somewhat sad to see a lot more things missing. In an effort to make the area more tourist friendly, most of the buildings there have been removed and barrier= s and railings have been erected around some of the interesting machinery. Th= e last two years I was there, none of those changes were there, it was messie= r and I could walk in and among some of the coolest places. I realize now I have photos of the place that nobody else can get any more, the place is quite different from what it used to be. I will have to look through my old library and see what shots are particularly unique.

The whole town front is littered with little baby Elephant seals we call =B3weeners=B2 as they are getting weened off mother=B9s milk, also quite appropriate to say given their wiener like shape. I ended up hanging with them at the landing site for hours, watching them sneeze and slumber, some snuggling up in curiosity. It was incredibly curious watching them from so close, these animals can hold their breath fo= r up to two hours, important because they are deep sea divers, living submarines. So if you can hold your breath for two hours, why bother breathing? I would watch their nostrils open and close, and then close for at least 10 minutes at a time, it was so funny to watch all these little baby seals hold their breath on the beach, eyes closed and fast asleep. You could still tell they were alive, they would occasionally itch themselves, but it appears that their heartbeat would cause them to constantly jiggle now matter how still they are, really cute!

Another thing happened that really excited me, an enormous swarm of krill came into the bay! Krill is one of the most important things in the Antarctic. Without them, there would be very little mammalian life down here, almost everything depends on them for food. If you were to take all the Krill in Antarctica and weigh it, the combined mass of the Krill would be far greater than any other species on earth, even humans...for now. But even in their greatness, this is the first time I=B9ve been able to see s= o many of them! I simply had to photograph them, scooping a cocktail glass into the water I got at least 20 of them, all squirting around the glass curiously. I set th= e glass on the table and used my bed blanket to make a blue background behind the glass. It=B9s not easy shooting them with a macro lens when they have as much freedom as my lime does in a gin and tonic. But I got some interesting ones so I can at least show people what these look like, half the size of m= y pinky at their biggest. I was madly shooting this while also participating in a barbecue at the back deck of the ship. It was a bit surreal to be photographing such an important animal accompanied by calypso music while going to town on a hamburger outside of a Whaling station in view of =B3the boss=B9s=B2 grave, -Shackleton does another roll. Soon it was time to leave port and it=B9s completely dark outside, but watching the ship leave the port the water was no longer blue, but pink and lumpy, being comprised of 90% krill and 10% water, we all hung over the railings in awe as the port faded away from us, a shame it was too dark to photograph.

Fortuna Bay

I¹m standing in my cabin and am sniffing the air. I smell something sour and sweet with a hint of ammonia, the offending odor emanating from my outdoor gear evokes many memories of lying down in the dirtiest guano covered ground, a small price to pay for the best perspective. That¹s what I was doing yesterday, and hopefully it was worth it. The plan was to head to Fortuna Bay to complete the last portion of Shackleton¹s epic trek across South Georgia into Stromness Station. Of course nothing ever goes to plan here, and the conditions were not ideal for 100 people to go on this hike, some whom may not be in the prime of their lives. I¹m thinking if it was all people who are young and healthy who genuinely knew what they were getting and what they were made of, we would be capable of doing this. But there was very little visibility and high winds, we just can¹t take that chance.

So the hike was cancelled, we still never got to see a massive penguin colony, and the King colony in Fortuna Bay awaits us, a sheltered and nearly sure fire landing every time.

Our landing here is beautiful. The beach is lined by a tussety grassy slope rising up the side of the mountain, making our only way across to the King Colony a thin strip of beach, dotted with Fur Seals like land mines. Tactfully traversing the field we made it to a sprawling expanse of glacier moraine dotted with the squawking figures of King penguins. Great gusts of wind would blast snow, penguin feathers and dust into our faces with an extra strong whiff of King Penguin.

I find as good vantage point as I can get and lay on the ground to shoot across from the penguins. I find myself being guided by my camera across the colony looking for special moments and interesting angles, I¹ve only got a short time so I have to make the most of it. Sometimes I set up my backup camera to continually shoot images in order to create a timelapse video, and leave it alone for 20 minutes with a shower cap I got at the hotel to protect the camera body from the elements. It was windy, overcast, and slightly snowy, but as I headed back the sun began to shine and for moments as the shore moved away from us, I glimpsed snowflakes lit by the golden rays, glowing against the shaded background. It¹s fleeting moments like these I always remember, and never capture, they are mine to keep forever. The storm disappeared, heralding at least two days of sunshine and warmth on our far away island...

Howling Salisbury Plain

Today I¹m quickly scrambling to get geared up as fast as I can, as I¹ve got to be ready for Salisbury Plain! Over 60,000 breeding pairs of king penguins are here making this a genuinely extraordinary place. The last few times I¹ve been here wallowing in the Penguin guano have never failed to disappoint. The weather looks good but we will have to wait until the ship gets closer to tell for sure. As we began to approach I look at the wind meter with despondence as it gusts from 25 knots to 40. Well past the acceptable operating limits, a a gale like this with the right combinations can begin to flip zodiacs and flatten passengers. Out on the open ocean is calm air, but cool Katabatic winds pouring down the glaciers of South Georgia flow like river rapids towards us at the shore. We wait for a while, hoping for changing conditions, but experience tells us we will be waiting for too long. Our expedition leader gets on the P.A., eloquently naming the streaks of wind across the water ³cat¹s paws² conjuring up images of raring and hissing winds ripping up goretex, as people run screaming and bleeding from the rabid winds, of course it¹s not like that but it¹s entertaining at least.

So we¹ve picked up anchor, sailed past Albatross Island and headed towards out next destination, Fortuna Bay, and Stromness Station.

South Georgia

You¹re confronted by a wall of fog and a pulsing kelp entangled sea underneath. Looking at the map and know that a harsh world lies full of life somewhere beyond the fog. You stop to listen and hear a distant moaning, it¹s not the wind. South Georgia always appears in this ominous way, it¹s like the island has been expecting us. Fur seals appear out of the mist, perched on their rocks, some growl and scrap, others just howl, while elephant seals burp and sneeze on the beach. The beach of Right Whale Bay is saturated with the basking bodies of the seals and waddling figures of the king penguins. I brought two tripods to shore, one for my camera and one to fend off fur seals. I¹m sure if anyone has ever seen a photo of one, they would say ³aweeeeee² but everyone who has been lucky enough to share company with one would think otherwise. They are extremely territorial and even the most wary traveler will be chased more than a few times in a short visit. People wandered among penguins, ran from seals and cooed at all the pups, all against the backdrop of sub Antarctic mountains touching the cool overcast sky. Right at the landing site we were lucky enough to witness something new; giant petrels, heads painted red with blood were plunging into wounds pecked open in a freshly dead elephant seal. Tail feathers were fanned out in defensive postures as they squabbled and torn at every but and piece they could get. I managed to get some great footage today and look forward to putting something together.

I hear it¹s been somewhat cool up to -22?C back home, here the coldest it¹s been so far is 0?C, we¹ve had some good weather so far and it¹s highly unlikely it will get much cooler, I still think it¹s one of the best ways to spend winter... or summer, it depends on how you look at it.

At Sea

Ok now I¹m really getting into this ship everything runs so smoothly, with 68 crew and 11 expedition staff, and this time, it¹s not Russian. We were shifting fleeces and jackets around and one of the crew assisting said ³Ya mon I would die of heat if I wore these at home!² given this ship¹s port of call is in the Bahamas it¹s home to a mix of people all over the world, mainly Philippines, Bahamas, Poland and all over South America. I sat down for a meal and started shifting around my cutlery, and a waiter kindly re-ordered them and placed the napkin on my lap. After finishing my King Prawn the waiter scooped the bread crumbs off my table, and I was immediately offered a second meal, the serving staff can read my mind. Oooh my gosh ..food! Then at breakfast, they made me a cheese and mushroom omelette just as I ordered. Tomorrow I will experiment and see if they can make me an egg white omelette, I haven¹t worked up the courage yet to ask for low fat cheese.

Here I am going to a place famous for starving and killing countless explorers, the lost continent shrouded in mystery, rife with tales of disaster and despair, and I¹m worried about eating too much fat, and will probably gain weight (not a bad thing for me). I¹ll be chomping down on cheeseburgers from Alberta while laying eyes on places so desolate that nearly 100 years ago was occupied by men surviving on stringy penguins while sheltering in downturned lifeboats for months during the Antarctic winter. Shackleton is rolling in his grave.

Today we will have to prepare for our inspections as South Georgia is an incredibly sensitive place. This is an island that has evolved without the presence of any rodents so the wildlife here has no defense for an utter onslaught by such a prolific animal. Other threats include introduced seeds and roots carried in the pockets, velcro, treads, and bags of travelers. Every person will be vacuuming and disinfecting their gear between every locale to ensure we don¹t destroy what¹s left.

It¹s day two at sea en-route to South Georgia for my 6th time and excitement is mounting. Ooooh to be back again! I wonder what the seasonal variation will bring, something is always different. Sadly the delay at Stanley means another half day at sea tomorrow, but hopefully the evening will present a fantastic evening in the most ebullient place in the Southern Ocean.

Falkland Islands

There is so much to know about the place, the 1982 war, it¹s exploratory history and wildlife but the things most people know about it isn¹t always what comes across in a short visit. I could go on about the brief Argentinean occupation, and how it¹s shaped these islands and it¹s people, but it all seems to fade into the background noise of the actual personality of the place. It¹s not a war torn island, it¹s a place where penguins, people and sheep live in the present, not the past. Sure, I¹ve seen the war museum and monuments, and walked down Thatcher drive, but that¹s what I did my first few times down there. Now my Port Stanley visits are filled with, walks down the streets asking locals for directions to see the secretly famous gnome garden and contemplating on how they reproduce and whether the females have beards too since every gnome has a beard. Or a relaxing lunch at the lovely local Brasserie and see the new art work displayed, only to hop over to the grossest and most truly British, stinky dingy ³Victory Bar² with the staff to get drunk on a single pint of Strongbow (since I¹m a two pot screamer). I¹ve been told it¹s like a pub in the North of England. Lastly a frantic look around the grocery store for my favorite British craving, as it¹s the last store we¹ll see for ages.

It was a good visit, we arrived back at the port greeted by a flustered and distracted port officer taking in our cards at the gangway and were given the all aboard ok. We sailed out of the ³Narrows² and on towards our next destination South Georgia. An hour after departing, we realized we were short one passenger. Now I ran through in my head what other expedition leaders could do about this situation, how do you tell people we have to return for someone left behind? Some would keep it under wraps, and find another excuse for returning, or wait to the last minute to explain the situation after rumors and speculation run amok the ship for hours, twisting into one grand ridiculous rumor, rife with passengers concern about fuel surcharges and itinerary delays. But Laurie handled it with absolute class.

Before anyone could begin to notice, he went right to the microphone ³Hello everyone, we have left behind a passenger in Stanley, we will turn around to pick the person up at the port-² promptly followed by the spilling of martinis and grasping of the hand rails as the ship made a sharp u-turn. No beating around the bush, no room for speculation, he just got it out there, let them gawk about it and get over it. It¹s been a day since then en-route to South Georgia and the entire thing has been forgotten, with just a slight scheduling hangover of 3 hours. It was interesting to be on a ship when an event occurs you know will reverberate among the polar cruise community. Always hearing about the ill fated cruises, and slight bumps along the road, I wonder how this one will translate? It will definitely shape a new manifest protocol on future Quark expeditions.

Argentina at last

Heading down south a third Antarctic sumer in a row, I feel like I’m watching the introduction to the grandest most epic most anticipated film of all time. Except it is my life, and it’s all starting to feel so normal. The pain in my hip flexors remind me I’ve been flying for a day and a half, but the blast of fresh moist salty air tells me I’m in the oceanside Argentinian version of Banff. Ushuaia, in the land of fire: Tierra Del Fuego and the doorstep to Antarctica.

It’s such a welcoming site, seeming touristy at first, but for me it’s like a little holiday land. Every time I’m back from the Antarctic we all head to our favorite bistros bars and restaurants, laptop in hand to hear what has happened over the past few weeks and to catch up on news, the soft glow of the computer personify a warm hug from far away friends and family.

The cafe experience is delightful, genuine empanadas sit ready to be eaten, sipping a sunken chocolate “submarino” in hot milk makes for a deliciously fun hot chocolate. And always receiving sparkling water with any order lest consider it an insult, makes me feel like every glass of sparkling water feel like a kind gesture from a friendly stranger.

The beautiful National Parks here are wonderful to walk through, hopefully you might get to see one of the two mainstays of the area, the Red Crested Pecker and the Canadian Beaver. Yeah, 50 years ago someone decided that Tierra Del Fuego’s fur industry deserved a boost from the Canadian beaver. I suppose they imagined the runways of Buenos Aries adorned with coarse brown fur and leathery tails as high fashion embraced our furry little friends.  Fast forward 50 years and 50 beavers has proliferated into 100,000 pairs, wreaking havoc on an ecosystem un-evolved and unprepared for such an onslaught.  However the endearing personality of the beaver has won the hearts of tourists and Argentinians alike, oddly resulting in a pair of unusual mascots, both the pecker and the beaver rule the “end of the earth”. Seriously, awesome.

Yah, I’m glad to be back, I almost forgot too, I’m getting paid to do this. Heheehehehe.

Also, I just found out I’m going to South Georgia for a 6th time! Greatest place in the south BAR NONE! So happy right now!