Sunday, October 26, 2008

Photos from October 2008 China Visit

It had been nearly a year since the last visit to the Seahorse Marine boatyard (SHM) to check on construction progress. With Kurt on a low salt diet (something that is difficult to maintain in China), it was decided that Marcia would go by herself.

The only firm part of her schedule were the flights.  She left on Thursday, October 2 and had a long flight via NW. She flew first to Portland, then to Narita, and finally to Hong Kong. Her return flight on Saturday, October 25 was only two legs, HK to Narita and Narita to Seattle.

While in Hong Kong, mostly she stayed with our friends the Nagles who were living on their SHM built Diesel Duck David Ellis in Aberdeen.

Compared to the previous year, a lot of rough carpentry was completed. In addition, a high point was watching our engine, a Lugger 1066T, get threaded through the salon door and lowered into the engine compartment.

Click on the photo album to see a few of the photos Marcia took on her visit.

Monday, September 1, 2008

What the heck is Ménière’s (or “what did you say?”)

Wouldn’t you just know it would happen but about one month before I (Kurt) was scheduled to retire April 2007, the hearing in my right ear begin to act up. 

First, it felt the way an ear gets when you’ve been swimming and water has clogged the ear canal. Next, I heard a continual ringing of moderate volume (tinnitus).  Not surprising, the hearing acuity in my right ear was reduced dramatically.  To top it off, I had several episodes of vertigo lasting 10-30 minutes.

After a visit to my family physician and determining that it wasn’t likely some terrible disease, I decided to see how the symptoms progressed.  I had had a similar experience four years previous and after 3 or 4 months the symptoms disappeared.  I hoped for the same.

Unfortunately, by Fall 2007 the symptoms seemed no better and vertigo episodes increased.  A visit to a specialist was in order.

HeadLinesAfter a battery of tests to rule out other conditions, I was diagnosed with Ménière’s Disease (NIH description). Fortunately, in my case it is more of a nuisance condition than a severe affliction. However, I want to do whatever it takes to prevent its current unilateral nature (right ear only) in my situation from progressing to bilateral (i.e., afflicting both ears).

For cases in which the vertigo is infrequent and mild to moderate as in my case, the general treatment protocol is a low-salt diet (to reduce fluid retention) and a mild diuretic (again to deal with fluid retention).  Since sodium is the flavor crutch in most industrially processed foods and restaurants, we go out to dinner infrequently and the meals Marcia prepares are often from scratch rather than from the can or box. The side benefit of the diet is that I have lost about 15 pounds from my preretirement weight.

Besides the weight loss, my low salt diet serve as a convenient excuse for not accompanying Marcia on trips to the boatyard in China to check on construction progress.

Monday, July 28, 2008


My cellular provider (AT&T) had poor coverage along the route so I wasn't able to post much during the ride. "Contemporaneous" writing loses something when done after the fact so I won't try to do a day-by-day recap of the ride. Below are some of my general impressions from the ride.

First, in a good way, the ride exceeded my expectations. The people were great, the weather not unbearable and the food wonderful. Depending on what our schedule is next year, we'd have no hesitation about doing RAGBRAI again.

We had no major mechanical problems (one flat tire) and our bodies held up pretty well (Kurt's right knee started acting up towards the end of the trip). The conditioning we did before the ride must have been sufficient because physically, the ride was reasonable.

There are lots of people on the ride but you sign-on knowing that it is going to be you and 10,000 of your best friends on the trip.  


The atmosphere is such that you have no inhibitions over what you eat or drink. Your only responsibility is to have a good time and pedal yourself down the road to the next town. Remember, pie is breakfast food. 



The host towns and the pass-thru towns (places you go through during the day) go all out for this event. It is a celebration at every stop. 


There is a lot of corn in Iowa. From one end of the state to the other, we passed field after field of corn. Also, Iowa is NOT flat!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hard Leg

7/21 - We made the real hard leg from Harlan to Jefferson. Fewer hills from here on. RAGBRAI is everything we expected & more!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

First Day

First day done. Tonight we opted to be indoors at a Lutheran church sleeping on padded pews. Plus it is air conditioned.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Are we ready? The truth is in the saddle!

We fly today to Omaha where we will spend the night. On Saturday we take a bus to Missouri Valley where the ride begins.

For support along the ride we are using Pork Belly Ventures. They will ferry our gear between towns and provide support above and beyond that in the basic RAGBRAI package.

Since the ride is sponsored by the Des Moines Register American newspaper (the "RA" in the rides acronym), there is ample coverage on the web at the newspaper's web site:

  Register American's main RAGBRAI page

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bicycle Origami

Rather than carrying our bicycles with us on the flight to Omaha (near the ride's start), we shipped the them ahead on FedEx.

Marcia's Bike Friday is designed to be stuffed into a large Samsonite hard case. Kurt's Rodriguez is a conventional road bike and requires a larger case. Kurt's nephew Brett, a hard-core bicyclist, loaned Kurt his hard sided carrying case.


Marcia's bike
Kurt's bike


Marcia's bike
Kurt's bike 2008-07-078x
Packed and
ready to go

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Weekly RAGBRAI Training Summary

This blog post will be a "living" post and list our weekly training log. The daily rides will be shown in the appropriate weekly log.

If you want to see what this training is about, see this earlier post - Summer 2008 Plans.

  Date Total
Week 1 May 11-17 109 Miles
Week 2 May 18-24 127 Miles
Week 3 May 25-31 162 Miles
Week 4 June 1-7 119 miles
Week 5 June 8-14 150 miles
Week 6 June 15-21 208 miles
Week 7 June 22-28 215 miles
Week 8 June 30-July 5 135 miles
Week 9 July 6-9 149 miles
  Total 1374 miles

RAGBRAI Week 9 Training

This week has the last few days of training as we ship the bikes on Wednesday or Thursday.

(round trip unless otherwise noted)

July 6 Magnusson Park to Redmond 43 miles
July 7 Mercer Island Circumnavigation 13 miles
July 8 West Seattle to Bainbridge Island (route included extra miles on Bainbridge) 53 miles
July 9 Ballard to Woodinville
(last training ride!!!)
40 miles

Saturday, July 5, 2008

RAGBRAI Week 8 Training

(round trip unless otherwise noted)

June 30 West Seattle to Vashon Island with island circumnavigation and side trip to Point Robinson on Maury Island 47 miles
July 1 West Seattle to Kent 44 miles
July 5 West Seattle to Kent 44 miles

Saturday, June 28, 2008

RAGBRAI Week 7 Training

(round trip unless otherwise noted)

June 23 West Seattle to Kent 45 miles
June 25 West Seattle to Bainbridge with island circumnavigation 46 miles
June 26 West Seattle to Vashon Island with island circumnavigation 45 miles
June 27 Mathews Beach to Marymoor Park (with a service break at Logboom Park on the return to fix a flat tire) 35 miles
June 28 West Seattle to Kent 44 miles

Saturday, June 21, 2008

RAGBRAI Week 6 Training

(round trip unless otherwise noted)

June 15 West Seattle to Bainbridge Island with circumnavigation (hilly but not so chilly) 41 miles
June 17 Chelan to 25-Mile Campground (took an overnight trip to Eastern Washington) 41 miles
June 18 Cle Elum to Thorp
(mileage was moderate but the strong westerly winds made the return ride grueling)
34 miles
June 20 Mathews Beach to Redmond 32 miles
June 21 West Seattle to Pacific/Algona 60 miles

Saturday, June 14, 2008

RAGBRAI Week 5 Training

(round trip unless otherwise noted)

June 8 Renton to Maple Valley along Cedar River Trail 25 miles
June 11 Mathews Beach to Marymoor Park 37 miles
June 12 Mercer Island Circumnavigation with a side trip to Coulon Park in Renton 29 miles
June 14 West Seattle to Maple Valley (via Duwamish/Green River trail then through Renton to connect with Cedar River Trail) 59 miles

Saturday, June 7, 2008

RAGBRAI Week 4 Training

Only three days of riding this week on account of unseasonably cold and wet June weather. On the days we missed riding, the 3rd through 6th, it rained 0.58, 0.26, 0.19 and 0.38 inches respectively. In addition, the high for each day rarely cracked 60 degrees.

Being a native Seattlelite, I understand that June is not summer in the PNW. But this year, it feels like late winter rather than late spring. We are hopeful for next week.

(round trip unless otherwise noted)

June 1 W. Seattle/Tukwila 36 miles
June 2 Mathews Beach/Redmond 37 miles
June 7 W. Seattle/Kent 46 miles

Saturday, May 31, 2008

RAGBRAI Week Three Training

(round trip unless otherwise noted)

May 25 W. Seattle/Bainbridge Island (one way; stayed night in Winslow) 25 miles
May 26 Bainbridge Island/W. Seattle (1-way)
Mathews Beach/Woodinville
28 miles
May 27 Mt. Vernon/La Conner Loop 29 miles
May 29 W. Seattle Hill Loop 16 miles
May 30 Mathews Beach/Redmond 33 miles
May 31 W. Seattle/Vashon Island 31 miles

Saturday, May 24, 2008

RAGBRAI Week Two Training

(round trip unless otherwise noted)

May 18 Mathews Beach/past Ste Michelle 30 miles
May 19 Ballard/Log Boom (post ride Happy Hour libation at Hale's Brewery 29 miles
May 23 Mathews Beach/Redmond 33 miles
May 24 W. Seattle/Kent 35 miles

Saturday, May 17, 2008

RAGBRAI Week One Training

(round trip unless otherwise noted)

May 11 Mathews Beach/Gas Works Park 15 miles
May 12 Mathews Beach/Woodinville 21 miles
May 14 Mathews Beach/Woodinville 21 miles
May 15 Fort Dent/Auburn 25 miles
May 17 West Seattle/Fort Dent 27 miles

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Summer 2008 Plans

Since our return from Australia and Antarctica, we've been tending to personal matters and haven't done any significant travel. We are actively trying to sell our current boat and are not planning on cruising on it this Spring or Summer.

The one thing on the docket, though, is riding our bicycles in RAGBRAI. This 7-day ride across Iowa is the oldest and largest cross-state bicycle rides. This year it will have about 8500 riders moving en masse across the state.

The route, which changes every year, is 471 miles and, shockingly from our perspective, 22,500 feet of elevation. Being a native "left-coaster", I assumed that between the Rockies  and the Appalachians was nothing but flat. Where did those hills in Iowa come from???

Its time to start training and get some serious "seat" time.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Antarctic Photos Posted

I have posted 70-80 photos from trip. I used the album feature rather than simply posting them inline in a blog post. I’ve broken them into seven albums based on a category. 

I tried to add some useful comments and descriptions so that you can understand what the image is and get some background information.

When you click on an album or “View Full Album”, by default you will leave this blog and be taken to the Microsoft site hosting the photo albums.  To return to this blog post, you’ll have to navigate using the “go back one page” button.

Alternatively, you can open the album in another tab or window (your options will depend on the browser you are using) and keep this tab/window showing this page.

Once at the Microsoft photo album site, you can view the photos individually or as a slide show.

  • Penguins that we saw

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We're Back

We arrived today after flying from Brisbane to LAX on Qantas (12 hour flight), then from LAX to Seattle on Alaska Airlines. One of our two checked bags went MIA on the LAX-SEA leg of the trip. Fortunately, Alaska found the bag and dropped it off at the house this evening.

I've copied the 785 pictures from the camera's memory cards to our computers. With digital photographs that only exist electronically, I take great care to protect them. They are stored on three separate devices. That should be safe from virtually all software and hardware problems. I still worry about a fire or break-in, though.

2008-Antarctica-556x I'll try to get more photos posted this weekend. Until then, here is one photo I took, a pair of cute King Penguins.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"But it's a warm rain"

To ease us back into PNW weather, it is raining today in Brisbane. It isn't a torrential tropical rain but more of a Seattle misting.

The natives seem to have decided you're better off ignoring the rain and wear your normal summer time attire of short sleeves and sun dresses than trying to beat the rain by using rain gear and perspiring underneath it.

We rode the "City Cat", a fast catamaran ferry that runs up and down the Brisbane River. It took us nearly two hours to make the complete loop. After lunch at a downtown food mall, we called it quits for the day because Marcia still feels under the weather on account of her cold.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Brisbane & Expedition Mode

We're in Brisbane now, our final leg before we head back home. The trip has been wonderful but I'd say we're both ready to be home.

Don McIntryre, our friend who was the Antarctic expedition guide for the cruise, would often end his near daily briefings to the ship's guests by telling everyone to be in "expedition mode." For Don, this meant that you had to always be ready for changes in plan based on conditions. In a sense, our entire trip, even the non cruise portion, has been "expedition mode."

The Antarctic cruise was very expensive (although not one we regret).  The airline tickets, on account of the last minute booking during peak season, the most expensive we've ever purchased. To compensate we've economized on our in-country touring by staying in hostels and taking public transit whenever possible.

This means that when we arrive in a city Marcia has to fuss with finding how we get to the city while I retrieve the baggage. Also, because we are hauling gear we needed for the Antarctic cruise, our baggage is more than what it would have been if we were simply traveling in Australia. Hauling our gear from air terminals to bus stands or bus stations to hostels becomes a bit tiring at times. Expedition mode can be fun but it does wear on you after a while.

Lastly, Marcia has come down with a cold. It isn't a bad one but a summer cold (we are in the Southern Hemisphere after all), always drags you down on account of the heat and humidity.

Now to our Brisbane touring. Today was a short day, we walked the mile or so to the botanical gardens (we've seen the gardens in every city we've stayed in). They are right next to the Brisbane River and are bordered by a grove of Mangrove trees.

Tomorrow we're buying a day pass which will allow us to ride the "City Cat" ferry which cruises the river up and down its length, boarding and reboarding as we choose. The river is tortuous through the city so a lot of river covers only a short distance as the crow flies.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Sweet Adelaide

Adelaide turned out to be a delightful city. It is very easy to navigate, well laid out and with a free bus that circles the core.

On Thursday, we did a wine tour to the Barossa Valley, the largest wine region in Australia. We bought a couple of bottles of wine to have over the next several days.

Friday morning we visited the central market, a farmers market that lacks the tourist spin of Seattle's Pike Place Market. Friday afternoon we rode the bus a 100 miles SW of Adelaide to the ferry that took us across to Kangaroo Island. We'll do a tour of the high points of Kangaroo Island today.

Sunday will be a travel day. First back to Adelaide and then a flight to Brisbane, our final stop in Australia.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Snares, Invercargill & a Blur

The Snares Islands were a fabulous collection of birds and seals. We saw Snares Island Penguins (very similar to Rock Hopper penquins), fur seals and more petrels, albatrosses than we can remember.

The next day we landed at Invercargill (Bluff, actually). We rode the bus into town, checked into a hotel and wandered around. As with so many NZ towns, there is a lovely park and botanical garden in which we wandered. We bumped into several other folks from the cruise who also were spending the night in Invercargill.

Tuesday, February 5, was the usual travel blur. First we flew to Christchurch. It was a long wait until our afternoon flight to Melbourne. Clearing customs, immigration and quarantine was a lot easier this time than when we flew in 3-1/2 weeks earlier. We then caught an evening flight to Adelaide.

We were a day earlier into Adelaide than expected so Marcia and the airport travel information people found us a hotel that didn't break our budget too much.

Today we wandered around Adelaide including a visit to the botanical gardens. Dinner was at an Italian restaurant that was an unexpected treasure.

Tomorrow we do a Barossa Valley wine tour. The next day is a two day visit to Kangaroo Island.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Final Full Day of Cruise

We are currently anchored off the east shore of Snares Island, about 150 miles from our disembarkation port of Bluff (Invercargill) New Zealand.

Snares Island is a wild life sanctuary and no landings are allowed. We'll be doing zodiac cruising around The Snares looking at the abundant bird life. The Snares islands got their name from their propensity to "snare" unlucky ships along their shores.

Yesterday, February 2, about 150 miles south, we visited Auckland and Enderby Island. The weather was stunning! Mostly sunny with just enough clouds to add interest to the photos.

In the morning guests had a choice of three trips. We chose the visit to a coastal watch station established in World War II. Because Auckland Island has a very protected anchorage, the watch station was intended to catch any enemy ships that might have been using the anchorage as a shelter or forward base. The forest through which we walked was very different from those we are familiar with in the Pacific Northwest. The Rata tree was the predominant tree canopy in the forest.

The afternoon was a zodiac cruise along Sandy Bay. A yellow-eyed penguin "posed" for us on a low rocky cliff as we motored by. On the beach were hundreds of sea lions soaking up the sun shine with which we were blessed.

Further along, we passed below the nests of the resident commorants (aka "shags"). Their body shapes were very similar to the commorants we see in Seattle but their colors were a striking pattern of black and white rather than the solid black that we have at home.

Tonight we'll repack all our gear in preparation of disembarking in New Zealand tomorrow morning. We'll spend one night in Invercargill than fly back to Australia via Christchurch.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

MacQuarie Island Recap

We are on the move again heading north to Auckland Island. The weather is sunny and, for 50 degrees south latitude, warm. Lunch was served on the aft deck. Albatrosses and other birds ride the turbulent air behind the ship, first swooping low over the water than riding the wind above the ship.

The MacQuarie Island visit yesterday was outstanding. We made two landings, one at the far northeast corner of the island, near the permanent base and than later in the afternoon about 4 or 5 miles south of their but still on the east shore.

The elephant seals were impressive. The adults weigh 3 to 4 tons and are well over ten feet long. They reminded me of Jawa the Hut from Star wars, massive blobs that spend most of the time lying on the beach or in the grasses next to the beach. They are pretty benign and you often walk within 10 feet of them.

The penguin populations were great. Kings, Gentoos and Royals were abundant. A population of Rock Hoppers were visible on the hill side as we cruised in the Zodiac's back to the Orion.

The King penguins were especially cute. They are very curious and would walk to within a few feet of you regularly. We were able to take some wonderful close-ups of the King penguins. Their colors are striking so they make great photographic subjects.

The bird life at Auckland island should be equally prolific so we look forward to an enjoyable visit there tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Southern Ocean Experience

We are still about 100 miles from MacQuarie Island. Yesterday we got a taste of what the Southern Ocean (the waters that surround the Antarctic continent) can dish out. The "furious fifties" is a term often applied to that region of the Southern Ocean in from 50 to 60 degrees south latitude.

In the early morning of Tuesday, January 29th, a steep pressure gradient passed overhead. The winds popped up to 60-70 knots with occasional gusts over 80 knots. The seas increased to 10-15 meters of steep and chaotic waves.

Most people stayed in their cabins while the worst conditions passed by. Breakfast, for those interested in one, was an egg & bacon sandwich delivered to your cabin by a crew member. Lunch was also prepared sandwiches from galley. By dinner time, the staff gamely opened the main dining room for those who cared to navigate the passageways.

In order to provide the most comfortable conditions, Orion's captain slowed the boat down to 3-5 knots and changed the course to keep our nose to the wind. Unfortunately, this direction was not the one that would take us to MacQuarie Island.

By this morning, conditions improved sufficiently that the captain put us back on course for MacQuarie Island. We should arrive there this evening and do our landings on this World Heritage designated wildlife preserve tomorrow morning.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cruising North

Our visit to the French Antarctic base at Dumont D'Urville (DDU) on the 25th was a real treat. The base is set amongst several rocky islands directly offshore from the continent. Because of the relatively shallow waters (100' to 200'), many ice bergs ground themselves offshore. The fanciful shapes of the grounded bergs and the free floating ones enhance the beauty of the setting.

The ship's company was divided into five different groups and each group did both a Zodiac cruise among the islands and walking tour of the French base. The metal walkways at the station are elevated above the Adelie penguin rookeries. The penguins seem to ignore us as we walk above their heads by just a few feet. Additionally, the walkways go past snow, storm and cape petrel nests.

The next day, January 26th, we cruised past the ice tongue of the Merz Glacier. The glacier projects about 30 miles into the ocean from the continents coast. The glacier stands over a hundred feet high above the water which means another 700' to 800' of the glacier is below the water line since the glacier is floating. Towards the end of the ice tongue, the stresses of wind and current cause the glacier to birth ice bergs into the ocean.

Besides the glacier viewing, the ship celebrated Australia Day on the 26th. Most of the ship's guests are Australian. The few non-Australians were granted leave to be Australians for the day in a "solemn" ceremony involving sun screen dabbed on the nose, eating lemingtons and singing the Australian anthem.

Yesterday, January 27th, was a slow day for everyone as we cruised north. The expedition staff gave several lectures on various Antarctic topics during the day.

Currently, Monday, January 28th, the Orion is cruising North towards its next destination, Macquirie Island, an Australian sub-Antarctic Island. We should reach Macquirie sometime tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Antarctica Report

Internet connectivity has been spotty on account of our far southern latitude. We are currently on the fourth day of our time in Antarctica.

The voyage down was uneventful. The 3-5 meter swells experienced at the first were the largest. Most of the time the swells were in the 1-3 meter range and the wind chop was moderate. Lots of blue sky, too boot.

Our first day at the continent was at Port Martin. There the katabatic winds were fierce (40-50 knots) so we were unable to launch the zodiacs for a cruise along the ice fronts.

The second day was to Cape Dennison where Mawson had his hut. Conditions were excellent with only light winds. The zodiacs shuttled everyone to shore where we were able to wander amongs the Adelie penguin rookeries. It was a picture perfect day.

On the third day we moved to Point St. Jules. In the morning we did a zodiac cruise of the area but then the zodiacs were recalled on account of a small ice berg drifting toward the Orion. The Orion hoisted its anchor and moved out of the way to let that one and several more pass by. Fortunately, this occured during lunch.

After lunch, the Orion reanchored and the zodiacs were launched for a landing. The expedition crew does a great job of preparing the landing areas so getting a shore is usually not a lot of fuss despite the icy shores.

The scenery is truly fabulous. Having seen glaciers on mountains around the world, the glaciers on Antarctica are in a class by themselves. It is difficult to grasp the concept that the ice sheet you see in front of you extends for 1400 miles to the South Pole at an average depth of nearly 5000 feet thick.

Today we hope to make a landing at the French Antarctic base at Dumont D'Urville (DDU for short). The movie "March of the Penguins" was filmed at an Emperor Penguin colony near here. With the exception of one lone Emperor all we have seen so far are thousands and thousands of Adelie Penguins.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Onboard and Heading South

On the afternoon of Thursday, January 17th we boarded the Orion. It is a lovely vessel, considerably smaller than the cruise ship we were on last Summer when we to the Norway Coast. There are 90 or so passengers on the Orion versus 1300+ passengers on the Holland America cruise ship in Norway.

We had a bit of confusion when we first boarded because  we were shifted to a different cabin but it was sorted out before we left.

It is 1400+ nautical miles to Commonwealth Bay on the Antarctic coast. The Orion travels between 11 and 13 knots depending on sea conditions. With 900 miles to go we should be there in 3+ days.

As I write this, 10 AM Saturday, January 19th , we're nearing 51 degrees South latitude. We are driving pretty much straight south so our current longitude of 147 degrees East will remain the same.

The seas aren't too bad. There isn't a lot of wind chop but the swells are in the 3-5 meter range. Hopefully it won't get a whole lot worse.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Busy Time in Tasmania

Marcia scheduled our time in Hobart wonderfully. We've been busy every day since we arrived.

Saturday - This was a recovery day but since there is only 5 hours difference between Seattle and Hobart (ignoring the date difference), our biological clocks reset pretty quickly. We walked to the downtown (about 3 km) then took the bus back. Hobart is the second oldest city in Australia after Sydney.

Sunday - We took a tour to Port Arthur (we used Bottom Bits Tours), the prison for those convicts sent to Tasmania. It operated for about 50 years in the 19th century. Convicts were a key element in the settlement of Tasmania and Australia.

Monday - Freycinet Peninsula and Wineglass Bay. We took another tour up the east coast to a lovely beach area. The weather in Tasmania primarily comes from the west (Indian Ocean) so the east shore is the dry side of things. Lovely beaches and coastal features. There was a human habituated wallaby at a look out. Marcia was able to give a drink from her water bottle.

Tuesday - Into the mountains this time with a tour to Mt Wellington (right above Hobart) and Mount Field, a national park. On the way back we visited a wildlife park that had Tasmanian Devils and wombats.

Wednesday - We were on our own today. We walked over to the Royal Botanical Gardens which were really lovely. From there we continued down town and had lunch at a seafood restaurant that specializes in the local seafood. They serve the local oysters raw so Marcia says she wants to have lunch there tomorrow as well.

We board the Orion tomorrow and are looking forward to the next leg of our journey.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hobart Tasmania

Despite 30+ hours of continuous traveling spread across 4 flights, we made it to Hobart in pretty good shape.

When we arrived, it was extremely windy and hot (upper 80's). Today, however is quite pleasant. We spent the morning doing some grocery shopping and walking through a nearby park.  This afternoon we'll walk down to the city center and scope things out there.

Tomorrow (Sunday) through Tuesday, Marcia has lined up trips to various spots around the island. These are mostly 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM trips so we'll be pretty busy.

Wednesday is a recovery day and, probably, laundry. Thursday we board the MV Orion for the cruise portion of the trip.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Off to Antarctica

While checking on the construction of our new boat at the Seahorse Marine boatyard this last fall, we spent a considerable time with Margie & Don McIntyre who are also having a boat built there. The McIntyre's are Antarctic guides for a cruise line based out of Australia. We mentioned our long held interest in visiting Antarctica and they responded that last minute opportunities occasionally come up.

In early December, we got a call from Don saying that if we were interested, there were some vacancies on a sailing in the middle of January. After mulling it over for a half hour or so, we called him back and said we're in.

The cruise embarks from Hobart, Australia on January 17 and disembarks at Bluff (Invercargill), New Zealand on February 4. Since it is both expensive in money and time to get to Australia, we decided to take time on both the beginning and end of the trip for a little touristing. We leave Seattle on Wednesday, January 9 and return five weeks later on Wednesday, February 13.

Below is our trip schedule with links for maps (Google Earth) or weather (Weather Underground) if available. A large scale map of Antarctica and the various territorial claims can be found here. Where we will be traveling is the small section in the lower right of the map between Australia, Antarctica and New Zealand.

Date Location Links
1/9-1/11 Many flights: Seattle to LA, LA to Melbourne (via Auckland), Melbourne to Hobart  
1/11-1/17 Touristing in Hobart Tasmania. We'll be staying at the Hostel International facility in Hobart (lodging) Map
1/17 Embark from Hobart on the MV Orion MV Orion
1/18-1/22 Cruising to Antarctica. It will take 5+ days to make the 1400+ nautical mile crossing to Antarctica.  
1/23-1/26 We'll be cruising along the Antarctic coast in the Commonwealth Bay region. This is near both the French and Australian Antarctic research bases. It is also very near the magnetic South Pole. We hope to visit the hut left by Douglas Mawson, the earliest Australian Antarctic explorer (Mawson's Hut). Map
1/27-1/29 Start heading back north  
1/30-1/31 Visit the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. We hope to see four kinds of penguins here, King, Royal, Gentoo and Rockhopper (penguins). Map
2/1 Cruising north  
2/2 We visit Auckland and Enderby Islands. These are New Zealand conservation areas. We may see Yellow Eye penguins, an albatross colony and a Hooker Sea Lion colony. Weather
2/3 Our last visit will be to Snares Island. Lots of bird life here including the Snares Crested penguin. Map
2/4 Disembark in at Bluff, New Zealand, the port for Invercargill. We'll probably spend the night here. Map
2/5-2/9 We'll work our way back to Adelaide, Australia (description). Here will spend several days visiting local sites (Kangaroo Island, Barossa Valley). Map
2/10-2/12 Our last stop before heading home will be Brisbane (description). Map
2/13 Retrace our steps home. Brisbane to LAX, LAX to Seattle.