I'm asked constantly how my trip was, was it fantastic? What are the stories? Was it cold? Did you see polar bears? And on and on are the questions. To be honest, the 7th continent defies description. My mind goes blank when I'm asked, how was your trip? To say that it was fantastic, awesome, breathtaking and beautiful is to insult this last bastion of wilderness. It's a landscape and seascape that all at once is colorless but yet so full of vibrant hues of blue and white as to cause you to shield your eyes. A place so devoid of life that it could be called barren, yet so full of life that I could sit for hours on her shores and just observe. To write and think about it swells my heart with joy but yet my eyes tear up.
Humankind's spirit is to explore and conquer. Even as children we need to know what is around the next bend and over the next hill. I suffer greatly from this genetic affliction. Had I been born centuries ago surely I would have been with Columbus, Cook, Magellan and Amundsen. Perhaps, if you believe in that sort of thing, I was one of them. On the National Geographic Endeavor I spent much time on the bridge quizzing the Officer of the Watch of our course, what latitude we were at and how far could we go. I wanted to go further. I needed to know what was behind that island and around that iceberg. The desire burned hot in a place so cold.
There's a saying among the people who live and work on the Ice: The first season you go for the adventure, the second season for the money, and the third because you no longer fit in anywhere else. That seems very apropos. I'll steal this comment from Lucy Jane Bledsoe (writer) that going to Antarctica is like have a love affair with an inappropriate lover. Well, actually, let me improve on her analogy. It's like having a love affair with an exotic woman. A woman who will thrill you one minute and crush you the next. It's an unpredictable place that humankind has yet to conquer but can't help but to keep trying. Perhaps it is my job now to become a steward of this amazing woman and try to help her stay wild and free.