Thursday, September 18, 2008

Arrival to Palmer !

If yesterday led me to think of poetry, this morning left me speechless. The captain kindly slowed the Gould during the night so that on first light we would enter the grandiose and narrow Lemaire Channel. What a spectacular sight, first navigated in 1858, the channel consists of: enormous sheer-cliffed mountains falling to the sea, iridescent green icebergs floating in clear blue water. The Lemaire is rimmed by the Antarctic mainland on one side and numerous islands on the other. The largest and most impressive is Anvers Island, my home for the next seven months. Along the way we passed crabeater and fur seals as well as a colony of Adelie penguins walking across the ice. We watched the penguins in awe as they slid along on their bellies or waddled along, looking down as they did for leopard seals that could leap out of the sea below.

One of my shipmates saw my face and captured my sense of awe. He asked, "You know the first time you looked into the Grand Canyon ? Well, it didn't even come close to this, did it ?" I was reminded of the first time I saw the moon through a telescope. Except, this time I was standing in the beauty, not just looking at it.

Rather than muck things up with words about the channel, I'll just post some images.

sunrise on the mountains:

























birds and seals:


























iceburgs and mountains:



































At lunchtime we pulled up to the dock at Palmer station. Low clouds had come in but it was still a gorgeous day. The natural setting of the station was stunning with numerous small islands nearby and an enormous cracked blue glacier on Anvers. I had seen from photos The 28 members of the winter crew came out to greet us and tie the boat up. From there the day was whirlwind - introductions, orientation, fresh baked cookies in the galley. For most of my shipmates this was a homecoming. Most had worked previously at Palmer and all except me had worked in Antarctica before. The place and jobs they were coming back to were familiar. For me, everything was new. I met my outgoing predecessor in the research associate job and started handover training with him.

I though to myself: "this is real. I am in Antarctica and I am about to start work."

Note: Many of these photos are courtesy of Scott Sternbach, professor of photography and NSF artist in residence. They are #2, 4, 7 and 9 above. All rights to these photos are reserved through Scott of course. You can see more of Scott's incredible work at: http://scottsternbach.com/


60 comments:

Rhetro Zenberg said...

Way cool!

Genevieve said...

I look forward to reading your blog while I'm at the South Pole Station! Lovely photographs! I'll yearn for the ocean view you have.

Louise Hamlin said...
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buyer said...

Palmer is entirely bigger than the official website made it look.

And the photos are incredible! Glad you're having fun! And thanks for doing the blog so all of us homebound types can get some vicarious adventure.

Tim Clark said...

That above "buyer" was me. I don't know why google has my username as buyer unless it's some old review I posted somewhere. *shrug*

Anonymous said...

Incredible pictures! What and amazing opportunity to go to this station and be part of somenthing so interesting.
Carolina Anderson.
Society of Women Adventurers.

Dad/Calvin said...

Hello Louise, This is Cal Butterworth, the inquisitive passenger that sat next to you on your flight to Chicago. You were heading for Hawaii at the time. I must say that I was delighted to see that the U.S. has such knowledgable and beautiful representation on the Continent. I read/viewed your presentation and found it both informative and entertaining. I enjoyed our brief discussion and I wish you all the best. Goodby Calvin

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