Archives for March, 2012

Daze at Sea

Once again, I have sailed across the ocean. Once again, I traveled aboard my favorite ship in the world, the National Geographic Explorer. And once again, I loved (almost) every minute of it. Traveling by sea is far more adventurous than flying or driving and really lets you feel the size and shape of our…

A Very Rare Bird

Birdwatchers are one of my favorite species of people to watch. They are curious, motivated by any flash of feathers that passes by their hawkish view. They like to tick lists and they like to count and compare. When people ask me if I’m a birdwatcher, I tell them I like to watch birds–any birds.…

Accessible

I leapt ashore across the bow, afraid to land in the waist-deep surf—afraid the driver of our rubber boat would change his mind and turn away. But I was here. I had landed on Inaccessible Island in spite of its name. Thousand-foot cliffs towered above me, so that my neck ached from the moment I…

Nightingale Island Reprise

Despite all the harm that humans inflict upon nature, nature (somehow) still survives. I know the tragic tales of lost wilderness paradise. I am often disheartened by nature’s defeat across the globe, and I am aware of how many species our species has driven to extinction — but today I’m in the mood for good…

Return to Tristan

The only thing better than achieving your dream destination is the joy of returning to a place you love. I never thought I’d ever make it to Tristan Da Cunha the first time, let alone return to this isolated speck in the middle of the ocean, but the good fortune of travel carried me back within…

Baby Fur Seal Lament

A mournful call sings out on the beach, followed by another similar cry, then another. The sound is throaty and pained, echoing across a mushy landscape of tussock and glacial bog to the severe and impassable wall of rock and ice before us. With every wave, the muted sea gives birth to a new batch…

Shackleton’s Shave

My travel heroes are many but none of them demand the kind of admiration I have for Sir Ernest Shackleton. So far, my sea voyage has followed in the wake of the very first stage of the infamous Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, in which the heroic polar explorer Ernest Shackleton sailed from Buenos Aires to the…

South Georgia Wildlife

I keep returning to the places I love most and South Georgia is one of them. South Georgia is the largest bit of land in my ocean crossing from Cape to Cape, a 100-mile long stretch of impervious mountains that rise straight up from the cold polar waters of the Antarctic Convergence. Once the haunt…

King Penguins

I admit I have a thing for penguins . . . . . . but then again, who doesn’t? Perhaps it’s the way they mimic us humans: walking upright, nuzzling their mates, or slapping each other on the back. Or else it’s the way they are different from us: surviving and thriving in the most…

Friday in the Falklands

I keep coming back to the Falklands because I like these islands. They form a strangely serene and rather rainy bit of earth in the South Atlantic, but I keep boarding ships that take me there. Last year I was surrounded by beautiful baby birds, and the year before that I ate my fill at…