Icebergs ahead!

 

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Hi there!

I bet you thought I’d misplaced my blog, but I’ve actually just been on another planet these last few weeks.

 

 

My husband and I traveled to South America, then on to Antarctica with a small band of extremely fun and intrepid friends.

Though we’ve been back for well over a week, I don’t think we’ve quite got our land legs back.  Not really sure we want them back just yet!

 

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The entire adventure feels a bit of a dream.

 

I’m definitely still in Iceberg Heaven.

 

 

Blue B PAINTINGS O'Keeffe, Georgia American (1887-1986) 1959 oil on canvas 30 x 36 in. Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley (M1973.606)

Georgia O’Keeffe

 

 

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Why, how and where do all the incredible blues in icebergs come from??

 

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I’m so glad you asked!

Icebergs are composed of ice breaking away from glaciers.  They have very little internal air or reflective surfaces. When the long wavelength light (which is red) travels from the sun to the iceberg, it is absorbed rather than reflected.

The light refracted through the ice returns as blue or blue-green, turquoise, cobalt, indigo, teal, paraiba…you name it. Bring out your colour chart.

 

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It’s absolutely stunning. And wild.  I mean who wouldn’t want to go in there?!  But of course you cannot, because, at any moment, the ice could break apart.  That would not be good.

 

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One of my watercolours from our sketch club.  John Singer Sargent I’m not, but it was so much fun to pick up a paintbrush again! Pure happiness.

 

 

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My husband couldn’t have been happier the entire trip.  Who knew he was such a polar explorer at heart?!

 

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I’d love to pass this off as mine, but it’s by the Canadian artist Lawren Harris (1885-1970)

One day I’ll relax into it and paint with seemingly loose abandon like this.

 

 

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LOOK at that. Water still and clear and true as a make-up mirror.

 

 

 

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My dear friend Olivia and me were blown away!

All in all, we were very blessed with the weather, but when it wasn’t optimum, or the winds were whipping and the seas rough, our ship’s captain and crew did a fantastic job of finding sheltered bays or inlets in which to anchor  for the night.

 

 

Here we are passing through “Iceberg Alley”, a region of the western Weddell Sea, one of the most epic sights in a Full Hand of epic sights to see in Antarctica.

 

 

Not the best video, but you’ll get the gist.

 

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These icebergs are like 150ft high, some even taller. And, lest we forget, 85% of an iceberg is under water, which, fyi, is why they so rarely flip (she says, flicking her hair. I happen to know a lot about icebergs now)

Trying to get my head around the mass and age of these bergs gave me a brain freeze.

 

 

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Lauren Harris

 

 

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There are no words!

Well, maybe just a few more…

The majestic parade of floats in Iceberg Alley travel in a north-northeast direction following the clockwise circulation around the Weddell Sea gyre.  At some point in time they calved from even larger masses of ice that could be tens and tens of thousands of years old.

 

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Here, you see a massive field of ‘Growlers’ floating behind me. Really-that’s what the smaller bits of ice that break off are called.

 

 

 

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I took this shot whilst paddling around in a kayak.

I’m waiting for Nat Geo’s call.  😉

 

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Blue as blue as blue can possibly be.

 

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A lone seal catching a nap.  Poor guy… no privacy anywhere ! (no response when I asked for his wifi password)

 

 

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Seriously surreal.  No filters necessary.

 

 

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This is our guide Richard. Don’t worry-he was a lot friendlier than he looks in the photo. But I think he evokes confidence if One ran into ‘issues’, don’t you??

Perhaps his hands were cold retrieving the glacier ice for the evening Negronis .  Now that’s an aged cocktail.

 

 

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This is a bit of a special shot for me, as the larger black creature you see beside the 3 little blobs is the single Emperor Penguin we spotted on the trip.

 

 

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Another planet I tell ya!

 

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Quite the view floating by your bedroom window.

 

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Out exploring in our zodiac.  As you see, the icebergs emanate blue even when there’s no visible sun.

 

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I was very happy with all the cold weather gear I packed ( agonized and obsessed over) except for my hands, which got so cold after just a couple of minutes sans mittens.

Have you tried taking photos with mittens on?

As they tell you in all the guide books, layering in Antarctic summer weather-which fluctuates quite dramatically, is key.

Note the white waterproof phone case hanging from my neck. I was not going to be the first person to drop their iphone down a glacier crevice. Twice.   :-0

 

 

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This painting, by the late Canadian artist Toni Onley, is of Desolation Sound in British Columbia, but the Antarctic scenery reminded me so much of his work that I wanted to include it.

 

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Early evenings were often spent in “Sketch Club”, listening to old music and sipping Negronis while penguins soared out of the frigid sea in perfect unison just outside the windows.

 

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As class wore on, occasionally paintbrushes did dip into the wrong glass.

A little watercolour never hurt anybody.

 

 

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Only following ship doctor’s orders

 

 

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How to make a Negroni:  1 part Campari, 1 part sweet vermouth, 1 part gin.  Orange peel and glacial ice optional.

 

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Oh, the sights we’ve seen and shall never forget!

Our boat was called The Hanse Explorer and tour/guide outfitters Eyos Expeditions   

Both were absolutely wonderful.

There are more posts coming, with lots of lovely pics, as well as more detailed information and reading suggestions for those who might consider putting Antarctica on their list of COOL Places to Go.

 

Stay Frosty my friends

xx

SP.

 

PS. don’t forget to stay in touch on my Instagram feed where I post a little more frequently ! 🙂

 

~

 

69 Comments

  1. What a wonderful trip! Fantastic pictures as always. I love Negronis. They are definitely an acquired taste, but one tasted……never forgotten!

  2. Thank you so much for this most evocative “post”.
    Your stunning photos and descriptions really made me want to travel to this incredible part of the world.
    This is the first time I have felt this way, even though my father spent 6 months in Antarctica in 1949 on an Australian scientific expedition.
    He was a journalist and wrote articles and took photos which were published in the day.

    My mother had been trying to have a child for almost a decade and on his return from this journey I was conceived
    – perhaps there is some truth in that ol’ freezing cold theory !!!
    Sadly, he died 6 years later when I was only five, but the scrap books of his Antarctic adventure are etched into my imagination and memory bank forever.
    From far away Perth in Western Australia you have have stirred some precious memories today, which just happens to be my birthday! Thank you so much.

  3. Welcome back, Slim. Despite how beautiful and untouched Antarctica is, I can’t believe you went there! You’re a brave woman! Isn’t nature miraculous and astounding in her beauty? There are really no words. Thank you for sharing. A couple of your pics make me think of some Frank Gehry-esque modern architecture. The last one before your paintings, make me think of a snow cone with that very unreal color of blue.

  4. What an epic trip you and your pals had! Your photographs are stunning. You must see James Balog’s documentary film, Chasing Ice (https://chasingice.com). It is such a powerful film (he lives here in Boulder, just up the hill from us). Thank you for sharing your gorgeous travels – loved the watercolors! Eva

  5. Ok wow! Thanks for taking us along. I have to admit I get the heebie jeebies thinking of being beside such beasts/wonders…like they might break apart at any second….could happen! 😉 Love that you included beloved Group of Seven.

  6. This is such an interesting post. The pictures are beautiful and I enjoyed the pairing of the art by Geogia O’keeffe and Tony Onley. The Antarctic is not a place I would have considered for a vacation. Your post has opened my mind and I appreciate you sharing the ship’s name and the guide. Looking forward to more posts on the “icebergs”.

  7. This world is an incredible place ………………frozen in time…………btw….your skin is glowing, it must be either the ice blue cold temps or the time being with your husband in such a awe inspiring environment….welcome home!…..I too miss picking up that paintbrush, like I said, welcome home 😉

  8. What a trip! The photos and your art work are fantastic. I’ve
    never been interested in going there but now I’ve changed my mind. Keep those posts coming!!!

  9. Thank you for sharing your amazing photos. I love them. I have seen the intense blue of icebergs in Alaska, but these are incredible.
    Thank you again for ‘taking’ us on your vaca.

  10. I just hate to be cold but these photos are tempting! A very, very, beautiful place on our planet and stunning pictures!

  11. Your photos are breathtaking. Thank you for sharing these amazing exhilarating photos with those of us who took the trip vicariously. I am wondering if perhaps you planted a flag on one of the icebergs and dubbed it “Hillary “?

  12. Oh Slim! I had no idea that icebergs could be so glamorous and stunning.
    I’m so glad that you took us there. Thank you.
    Dolly

  13. Wow! My mother was an adventuress….lived in Hawaii (1927 (then Manila; and then ended up in Shanghai!) all before the revolution.!

    Thank you for going to Antarctica for us! Gorgeous…..and thank you for being such a brave adventuress!

    Dennis and my son-in-law Scott Brittingham look very much alike! Adam calls Scott “Ernest”!!
    Those grey beards are very very attractive!!

    Penelope

  14. Amazing adventure! I thought of you and your trip when reading about the over 100,000 penguins that died last week. So heartbreaking. I’d love to read more about what you learned about global warming and what we can do to prevent it! I’m also curious if you were ever scared being in such a remote place? What did you feel when you kayaked around these gorgeous icebergs? I look forward to reading more of your posts about your incredible adventure. It’s high on my bucket list!

  15. Speechless {a rarity. Just ask my hubby.} You have been missed but this was oh so worth the wait. Your posts through through the years have been awe-inspiring and made my bucket list explode! Wow. Just WOWWW.

  16. Ok now It’s on my definitely must do list. Oh, and thanks for the negroni recipe never knew it mixed all my favourite liquor in the one glass😀

  17. WOW! Nothing short of AMAZING!!! The true glory of nature!!! And what a handsome couple the two of you make! Loved THAT shot of the both of you! Thank you for sharing and looking forward to more!!!

  18. Pure breathtaking…..I am always cold so I would never want to do this until now! I love hanging out with you and your fantastic travels, thanks!

  19. A post worth waiting for. What magnificent photos and your watercolor…wowza! I’m a sunshine glutton, but your iceberg photos inspire me to bundle up and see this incredible part of the world!
    For now, I’ll just live vicariously xo

  20. Breathtaking! How great that you and your husband enjoy travel and exploring!!
    An adventure of a lifetime and I love, love your art!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Sculptor Joe Gitterman

  21. I’ve been reading your blog for years and watching Dennis Miller on O’Reilly for years. Putting the two together was mind blowing. Nice couple.

  22. Stunning photos! I am so happy that you had such a beautiful trip. It is like being on another planet! I am so happy all the gear was perfect as well. These pictures made my day! xxxx

  23. When I was doing watercolors at a friends house as a kid, the mother kept putting her paintbrush in my lemonade by mistake. It was blue paint too, just like these pictures! 🙁

  24. So inspiring. What a wonderful adventure. Iceberg Alley looks extraordinary and all those shades of exquisite blue. Thanks for sharing Slim xo

  25. OMG !!!! Those photos bring me to tears ! That we have such beauty on this earth is such a blessing!!!
    Thank you for sharing your amazing journey, maybe one day i will have the courage to do such a trip Xx

  26. Hi Slim, Chris Phillips suggested I write and tell you about my book SHARDS OF ICE -ANTARCTICA DEATH SURVIVAL GRIEF
    Have a look on Amazon, also review at Universal Heart book club website.
    Needless to say, am passionate about the Great White South, most recent voyage was on Bark Europa, have a look at them on Facebook. A next one for you and your now explorer husband? Your photos are fantastic, congrats! Definitely Nat Geo !
    xx Minnie

  27. That blue sans sunlight is crazy unreal, it looks like a snowcone!

    My mom and I have started taking a watercolor journal with us on vacations – such a fun keepsake/activity!

    Did you *really* get glacial ice in your drinks?? :O

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