Skip to main content

Antarctica - travel journal

Day One of our Antarctic journey has us aboard an ice cutting cargo ship carrying supplies to the small year round base on the Antarctic continent. The boat’s hule is lined to break through the ice, and it creates a path through which other vessels can pass as well. We took a few hits from icebergs along the way and had to make repairs. We were all a little sea sick as the turbulent seas reached 60 foot swells. Upon arrival Mom fell to the ground and kissed solid land, and we spent the night resting and looking over the pictures from our Southern Ocean journey.

Basically the kids were on the top bunk of the bunk bed while I was on the bottom. M used a cup as a telescope watching out for icebergs, while J used a frisbee to steer the ship and D used a few cups and plates to adjust pressure release valves and monitor the research equipment. All the while I shook the bed and yelled things like “hard to port” and “Look at the Adelie penguins on the iceberg on our starboard side”. They all caught on and started yelling those sort of things to. D had to go below deck, the bottom bunk with me, and patch a few holes because J wasn’t a good sailor and knocked us into a few icebergs. When we arrived we discovered M’s cup was also a camera and she had taken pictures of the penguins and some of the ice so we could compare the ice formations as time passed, which basically meant we pretended to plug the cup into the TV while we all commented on the imaginary pictures we were seeing.

Day two had us in near darkness all day long as we experimented with ice. We took a basic training course at Palmer's research station and learned all about the Antarctic and the animals that live here and the climate research that happens off the coast. We are now prepared for our research voyage tomorrow.

Basically we hit the academics of the continent today. We did our science experiment and prepared our art project all while learning and repeating half a million times our vocabulary words. Then we settled into watching March of the Penguins while eating lunch.

Day three has us leaving our home base of Palmer’s Station and setting sail on a research vessel for Avion Island to study the Adelie penguins and Elephants Seals. Along the way we’ll drop down some research bottles that will collect water at different levels so we can study the microscopic creatures at different depths. If we are lucky we’ll see some Humpback whales and take some dart biopsies.

Basically we made a tent out of the dining room table as our research base home at Palmer’s Station and we flipped over the coffee table as our research boat. While we were doing our imaginative play we had “Antarctic edge 70 degrees south” playing on the TV in the background. Every once in a while we stopped to watch and listen to the show and then returned back to playing. The documentary served as a good back drop on the TV as we studied the different animals we came across. D threw rolled up pieces of paper with numbers on them at random stuffed animals on the floor that were acting as our humpback whales while M took note on a piece of paper my made up times and locations for each number, then J jumped off the over turned coffee table to retrieve our samples. We returned to our tent to enter our research into and old broken laptop, while we talked about what sort of things we thought the scientists might discover from the blubber biopsies. Little J insisted on a nap at this time so we told bedtime stories about penguins, put our heads down for about 20 seconds before J screamed “wake-up” and we went back to the overturned coffee table to resume our journey. When we arrived at Avion Island once again D was throwing pieces of paper at stuffed animals, but instead of retrieving the tags we left them on the stuffed animals and commented on any unusual markings or traits our “penguins” and “elephant seals” while M made notes of those on her paper. After the academic stuff and a long play session it was lunch so we paused our play until the next day. Day four was pretty much the same thing as day three. Tables time doing our maps, writing our vocabulary words, our days of the week, etc.. and then picking up on our imaginative play from Day three. The only difference is we played “Antarctica a Year on Ice” in the background and I was busy with chores and let them take the lead. J had to be reminded to focus and rein in his enthusiasm a few times as our tent at Palmers Station couldn’t handle the strength of his storm system. I made everyone waddle like a penguin as they were cleaning up, which made clean up fun even though it took a little longer.

I don’t know if our imaginative play will be this elaborate each week, but it sure was fun. I enjoyed watching them play cooperatively. While J is still too young to fully understand all of what is going on he did pretty good at keeping pace and acting serious as we discussed our research findings, matching our tones and facial expressions as we talked about what was in the pretend pictures that were taken or counting penguins on our “icebergs”. I think the play really reinforced some of the vocabulary for both M and D as they were using lots of words in their play and occasionally correcting each other if someone was off.