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Most of my adult life I have hated November, so much so that I would run away (in a responsible way). November drags on. The days are short. The nights are long. When I commuted to work, I would leave in the dark and return in the dark. Every day was a battle in November.
Yet I have some fine memories associated with November as a result. Standing on a chilly, sunny day across from the Cenotaph in Confederation Square in Ottawa, paying tribute to the passing veterans and cadets on November 11. Guy Fawkes‘ fireworks with my family and pal, Trish, in England. That same trip, we toured the War Rooms at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. We had tea with my godmother at the Savoy. She had come up by train to town, dressed in her best for the treat.
I spent a week in Ushuaia, Argentina – by accident – in November in 2009. Four-wheeling and tramping through bogs, visiting an estancia. The highlight was hosting a dinner for 2 polar pioneers, a BAFTA winning cinematographer and a pair of world-renowned artists. The view from the restaurant was astounding and the stories they shared…remarkable.
The days I spent in the Weddell Sea in November are on my top ten list. Emperor Penguins stopping to view the human visitors as if we were the animals in the zoo. I met some interesting people on that trip, with whom I remain in touch, with pleasure!
No longer commuting to work, on this First of November I arose with the sun. Made the day more tolerable. I donned my walking shoes and headed out to put my heart in gear. I passed aggressive red squirrels and harvesting gray squirrels. Leaves floated from the trees. I kicked a few on the sidewalk. The air was crisp. The sky overcast. A front is moving in.
It is time I let go of my hatred of November, and embrace the best it has offered. Do you see the white flag?
Khlebnikov in the ice near Snow Hill
A year ago, I was beside myself with excitement. I was heading south to sail to Snow Hill Island to see Emperor Penguins in the wild. I got to the Weddell Sea, but I never reached the penguin colony. 2009 was the year of the big ice and bad weather. It was a “Shackleton” year.
I’m not whining – not really – because the experience was as close as I’ll ever get to a raw expedition experience. I was disappointed that I didn’t reach the colony. 2010 is not a Shackleton year. The Weddell Sea is as free of ice as anyone has seen in some time – especially around Snow Hill. So the folks who sailed to the rookery this year, they had a fabulous time. Blue skies, healthy penguins and plenty of time to commune with nature.
As I reminisce, I am reminded that embracing the unexpected is the hallmark of expedition travel. That uncertainty is what sets expedition cruising apart from its tame cousin. That uncertainty makes every expedition unique.
- John Murray filming at the North Pole
Have you dreamed of traveling with a documentary film crew to get a real behind-the-scenes look at the process? Quark Expeditions has just announced that Ireland’s Crossing the Line Films will be shooting aboard the polar expedition firm’s Weddell Sea and South Georgia voyage.
A reliable source has told me that the subject of the documentary is Tom Crean. That Irishmen was involved in two of the most extraordinary Antarctic expeditions of the historic age. He was a member of Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, sailing with the Boss in a tiny boat 800 miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia by dead-reckoning! He was with Scott as he and his companions trudged across the Antarctic plateau toward the South Pole. Scott sent him back to base camp only 100 miles from the Pole. Scott died. Crean lived.
Crossing the Line has produced more than 70 films, many of them award-winning. Their specialty is filming in remote places among wildlife and indigenous peoples. John Murray is managing director of Crossing the Line. He will be the cameraman-director-producer – read Boss – of the film crew. I’m not allowed to tell you who the film’s host will be. You’ll enjoy his company – that I can say!
The aliens have landed
I call it “The Aliens Have Landed.” Can you see why? All the shapes are the same, with the hovering cloud to the right of the island echoing the shape of the island. Even the ice floes echo the shape.
That was an extraordinary evening, standing on the fly deck as we sailed south into the Weddell Sea for the second time. We were full of hope that the weather would hold so we could visit the Emperor rookery. The light was perfect for photography or watercolor. My feelings of exhiliration and anticipation were made poignant by the absence of a traveling companion to share it with. So I share it with you, now.
- Adelies on Devil Island
It is 2 AM and I can’t sleep. Coincidentally Top Gear runs every morning at 2 AM. I’ve watched a great deal of Top Gear in the past few months. Insomnia is my boon companion.
Gerri Halliwell is the star in the reasonably priced car…right now. Product placement is the theme of the issue. The Pink Floyd drummer loaned Jeremy his 500 million pound Ferrari.
Did you see the Bones episode, with the Avatar subplot? We’ve got advertising limits per hour…I think that episode may have broken the law!
I haven’t seen Avatar. No intentions of it. But I am going to see Sherlock Holmes. Goodness, am I admitting I’m looking forward to a Guy Ritchie film.