Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Week Four


-Margaret Lee Runbeck


Most World travelers do not stay in Verandah suites or penthouse suites. Lower stateroom and inside rooms are the norm. You find them all sitting in the library or out on deck around the sky view swimming pool. We have met Linda and Del McCuen from California, her ancestors came over on the Mayflower and is a registered Mayflower person along with her grandchildren. She and Del are about 4th or 5th generation Californians. Linda is tall, thin, and blonde, need I say more. Hot chocolate buddies on the outside deck. I have learned some last names not all, so that is my challenge this week. Martha and Marvin from Ocala have the largest cabin on the ship, only it’s a inside one. They keep it for them on W C because they have been aboard for the last 5 years. He is 83 and she 73. Martha reads and plays bridge all day. Nice for me she has invited me to be a member of their little book club. Js of course.


Spoiled for sure. We have our bathroom cleaned at least 3 times a day. Fresh towels, soap and best of all he cleans our combs and brushes constantly. It has been cold at night, magically there was a second blanket on our bed last night. Also have big white bathrobes compliments of the ship.

I can’t tell you why but the days just seem to fly by. We are busy, never bored, yet never seemed rushed. I was worried about sleeping but so far it hasn’t been a problem. In fact we have been sleeping in. Coffee doesn’t come until 8 on sea days and around 7 when we have to be ready for a tour. When we come back in the afternoon to rest and get ready for dinner , they deliver a cheese platter for our afternoon snack. Not so shabby. Have been meeting wonderful people and starting to make a few friends. Had lunch with Brian Herbert. He writes science fiction books. I think they are the Dune series. He is here incognito, so please, nobody tell anyone else on board. His wife Jan and I are taking a few classes together. They live in Seattle and are quite charming. So, this is the week we start our search for penguins. Am very excited that we are so close to seeing them.

We are at sea Yesterday was a test of our legs and stomach. Did very well considering the elements.. It was light until around 10:00. Opted not to dress for dinner and just go up to the Lido for a little something. Not looking for trouble. To entertain me, Bill said I could go into the Casino.(something to hold onto) Together we made 5.00 at the nickel machine. The evening show was canceled so we rented a movie and climbed in. I fell asleep immediately and Bill watched till the end. Woke up in time to watch the tennis matches.

Opened our drapes to the sight of the huge Amalia glacier. The weather was not co-operative, no sunrise, to cloudy. Misty rain. It cast a very eerie feeling over the mountains. The captain came on and said we would not go out to the open sea because of 18 foot waves. Ok with me to stay in the channel. It is calm and beautiful.Everyone applauded. We have been cruising all day in the channel Just after sunset we will enter the Straits of Magellan.

My sea day was very full. Had breakfast with the Rabbi and Adele, then had my nails done and Bill a hair cut. At 2 ,Elliot Finkel presented a classical piano concert . Great entertainment in the middle of the day.. They pull the drapes closed and you really forget that you are moving. Next Bill went off to the library and I went wondering. Sat in on a Witchcraft discussion. He asked if anyone still throws salt over their shoulder. No one raised their hands so I didn’t either. Of course I still do that. Since no one raised there hands he did not elaborate on the why. Why, is to keep the evil eye away. Off to Dinner, and the show tonight, day is done.. Goes by very fast. Glad we eat at late seating.


Our ship arrived in port with very strong winds. We had a tug boat come along side and help hold us to the dock. It is very cold and extremely windy and we are going to the our first penguin sightings. a long bus ride along a very narrow, bumpy road, traversing miles and miles of flat green open fields we arrive at the penguins. Still very cold and very windy, no sun to take the chill off. Sorry to say Bill could not walk the mile out to the penquins, the wind took his breath away. I settled him in the hot chochlate shed and I walked out. They are very cute and I think know that people are watching them and they do talk and perform for you. Most exciting a condor flew right over my head and landed close. I hope I caught the picture,, if not it sure is in my head. He was one big bird. Bill not being along spoiled it for me. Tried to learn from this and hope the next penguin hunt will work better.

In the afternoon we took the free shuttle into Port Arenas. Walked around the town and the square where all the booths for handcrafts are. Bought some yarn to knit and thought I bought knitting needles, either they only gave me one or one dropped out somewhere along the way. Will try again in the next port. Still very cloudy, dreary, and very windy. Could never live here. If this is summer,oye. Rained last night and they had a lot of flooding which adds to the cold. So far we have had iffy weather everywhere we have been. Maybe Gore is right the climate is changing.

We are leaving Chile and heading for Argentina. The Beagle Canal is beautiful. Got up in the middle of the night to see the glaciers and now, this morning, we are passing snow capped mountains. Seas are very calm however we still have grey clouds hanging everywhere. At least its not raining. We will stop in Ushuaia this afternoon for a few hours. We are going off and I hope we can walk around without freezing.


Windy, windy, windy. Had a hard time walking into town from the ship, once in the town we were ok. In the short time of a few hours, we had rain and snow added to the wind. Keep telling us this is summer. When the sun would come out from behind the clouds it was pleasant. Seems like we had four seasons in one day. Didn’t happen to often.

Had lunch in a barbeque restaurant. Open wood burning pit with lamb, chichen, and beef going around on a spit. We ordered cafeteria style and enjoyed the vegtabgles the most. I had the lamb, very stringy and fat. Lots of flavor but not to much meat on anything. At the table next to us, a elderly gentleman and his friends and family were celebrating his birthday. Everyone sang happy birthday in Spanish. Of course we all joined in. Then he sang a song to his friends. We were the only Amercians, fun afternoon being with the natives.

Walked around the small town. Ushuaia is billed as the most southern city. The end of the world. Feels like it. Bought good chocolates and took them to dinner. Very dark chocolate, shaped like a tree log. Best to cut it length wise, so as not to crumble. Everyone enjoyed…

We have been traversing lots of channels on our way to Cape Horn and the Atlantic.

Going around the Horn we had a little excitement. First we had rain, then snow and then a majestic double rain bow that the ship went under. Up came a big wind, a large wave and the breakfast buffet was on the floor. The ship really listed to the side for a few minutes. Caught everyone by surprise. Bill was still in our cabin and the breakfast coffee in our cabin also ended up on the floor. The cape lived up to its reputation After that the weather and the seas were very calm. Quite amazing. I keep saying the same things but it is amazing. I was out on the deck very early. Exciting and beautiful. All the mountains rising out of the water. The scenery is breathtaking.

Will be cruising into Bahia San Francisisco following where the Dutch explorers who first navigated through this area in 1615. Hope the seas calm down a little


Antarctica remains an enignma even in the 21st century, unique among lands because no one owns it. Many nations have claimed the southern continent, but the detailed Antarctic Treaty protects the pristine region. Even after it was discovered, it was seemingly forgotten as other continents were explored, conquered, and developed, but in the late 19th century, interest in Earth’s poles was renewed. Going to cruise the Antarctic Peninsula, Lemaire Channel, Booth Islalnd Anvers Island, and Paradise bay. Glad I attended the lecture and learned all this important information. Picked up 2 Palmer station residents to be our naturalist and guides while we are in these waters. Are you all impressed…………

Not one lecture prepared us for the majesty of the day. We were shocked at the size of the snow covered mountains. They rise up out of the water and today is a sun shinny day and the sky is blue and the snow comes alive with the light. Off and on clouds float over and around the peaks and valley’s changing the look. The ice burgs are white and have very turquoise water around them. The layers of the turquoise tells you how old the iceberg is. We saw sea lions siting on ice burg floats. Then the march of the penquins up the side of the mountain. They had a very specific path to walk up and down. Then two whales jumping out of the water, spouting water and waving their tails at me. They were so close I could have touched him.

It is very hard to discribe the majesty of the scenery.Really when I read the itinerary and Antarctica was included, I was thinking sailing days. This is like an expedition. We go into channels, places they call islands, and stop and look. The captain turns the ship around 360 degrees so we can see it all. We sat in the Crow’s nest and took it all in. Bill was very comfortable in his chair, huge windows with a full bow view watching the vast scenery go by.,. Really a privledge to have seen all the mountains and iceburgs. Someone is looking out for us, the sea is calm and the sun is out. We are experiencing quite a special adventure. The only thing that could possibly make this any better is to have all of you along. Tonight we are going to the movie, March of the Penguins. It will take something very special to be better than today. Sunrise was at 4;30 AM and sunset tonight is 10;30. Our TV signal is not very good, so it was hard watching the Tennis final. Gave up after the voice delay. I assume Federer won.


We sat down in the Music room to read and watch the scenery go by, and the man across from us says hello. We exchange pleasantries, and he sticks out his chest and tells us he is Fred E. Haack. Over our head… Just to make sure we knew who he was he handed us a print out of his books. He was a retired Canadian diplomat in Foreign affairs. He talked about jews, blacks and immigrents. Bill gave me a nudge not to tell that we are Js. Anyway he is estranged from his parents and sister, widowed and remarried, and now writes books. Lives in Victoria. Talked a little politics, he likes obamma and of course he had glares from Bill.. He lived in Africa a long time and wrote the book IN The Land of the Talking Drums. Will look it up when we return, not going to waste internet minutes on him.


Had breakfast with two interesting people this morning.. He was a diplomat in Finance..Lived in Africa, and Afganistan before all Taliban troubles.. Have either lived in or visited 148 countries. In the States she taught history in the public schools and now live in a retirement village in Silver Springs. Makes trying to see all the capitals in the USA small stuff. Conversations at breakfast have been unbeivable.

Up to our spot in the Crows Nest. The weather today is very different. Snow,rain,wind and clouds. Cast a very different look on the mountains. Today the wild life was abundant. Lots of penguins floating by on iceburgs, climbing the lave rocks, sea lions and whales. On one islalnd must have been a thousand. Learned another interesting fact, the moss grows on the side of lava mountains and also a red algae. No trees or flowers. The captain stopped the ship and we must have watched them for a half hour. Afraid to leave your chair in case you miss something.

Tonight is the Snow Ball. My eyes are tired and would rather go to bed, but you know me, can’t miss a thing. So the Ball it shall be. Tomarrow another glorious day exploring.


Conditions have changed overnight. We were supposed to sail around Paulet Island on our way to Elephant and Clarence Islands. Gale winds, iceburgs and snow have altered our course. The Ice Captain said in the beginning cruising the Antarctic is never exactly as planned, he started off with plan A and we are now at plan D. At the end of the day I will know just where the weather allowed us to travel. out our window it is very foggy and lots of snow. No hurry this morning to resume our chair postions. Had breakfast in bed, finished the book for tomorrow and in nutral mode for the moment. Of course there is no TV, telephone and sparce internet. Lucky for me and Andrea, we found each other at the right moment. Had a few minutes of IM. Before and after the internet was down for hours. Tomorrow , sailing out of Antarctica,we should have Satellite reception back.

Last night was a blast. We have been sailing for a month and people are letting their hair down. Friendships are starting to be made and of course seats at the theatre territorial. After dinner went up to the Crows Nest for a night cap and that is where the action is. The women, and I use the term losely, with the giant diamond star of david and well endowed bosoms was operating with the officer in charge of security. Fun to watch even through he told us he was married with children. Then around the bar, the giant lady from Austrailia was passing out wedding invitations. She is 6-2 and looks like a full back. She is “marring” a waiter she just met from New Jersey. If he makes 5-10 it’s a lot but he is also that wide. I really think it is a hoax but fun to watch the shenanigans for everyone jocking for attention . Real or for fun everyone wants a invitation. Sorry, I will have to report second hand news.

Our table went up to people watch. We have become evening friends. Share our day stories. Makes for good conversation. Had a great time. See what one bloody mary can do.

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