Through a few days time, we went snowball fighting, snow sliding, and zodiac cruising across Antarctica.
On the first day we went snowball fighting. Do you even know where we are? Well, guess what? We are in Antarctica! WAIT, WHAT??!!
We took a boat called the Orion, which is a boat run by National Geographic. All right, back to snowball fighting. So, as we were sailing (although it wasn’t a sail boat, it was a big ice breaker boat that carries 100 passengers) through the scary and rocky Drake Passage in Antarctica, we met some friends. What I mean by scary and rocky is that the swells were around 9-12 feet high. Did you know that a swell is a wave that doesn’t break? Where was I? Oh yeah, our friends were all older than me so there were times I didn’t understand what in the world they were saying. My best friend there was named, Sarah.
Brayden’s best friend there was Finn. There were some other friends too! The oldest kid’s name was Callan, he was 16. During the snowball fight, Callan came and we knocked him down when we all started aiming our snowballs towards him. Then, we started putting snow all over him and decided we’d bury him under a pile of snow. We decided to build a snowman on top of him, but Brayden put snow on his Christmas hat and Callan jumped up and tackled Brayden. After that, we went back to snowball fighting. When we got back onto the boat we were soaked from head to toe and I had a small cut on my cheek, that I hadn’t noticed because we were having too much fun! Wow I never knew snowball fighting could be that much fun! Too bad we don’t get snow in Northern California. Actually, Antarctica doesn’t get all that much snow either and is considered a desert since it only gets five inches of snow a year, but we were there the summer months, which are our winter months, so the temperature is good for snowfall. Typically, it is TOO COLD to snow in Antarctica.
The next day we went snow sliding. Snow sliding is the best thing I’ve ever tried! First step to snow sliding is to climb up the hill. It is really not that easy to do, because each day you plan to make a landing, which means going on land and leaving the boat, you have to be prepared. Prepared means long underwear top and bottom, rain pants that are used for keeping you dry and the keeping the wind away, a thermal top and bottom, a down coat, a gator around your neck, a winter hat, gloves and this awesome orange parka that they give you when you get on the boat. The parka has a hood with fur around the edges and nothing, not one ounce of wind, can get through that thing. Ok, back to the snow sliding. Once you get to the top of the mountain with all your gear on, you get in a line to go down but sometimes there is no line. Brayden was the first brave one to go down the slope so he didn’t have to wait in a line at all. Our guide, Adam, who was at the top of the hill tells you how to do it and he says it’s a drop so I got scared and chickened out two times. But on the third time Mom came and we did it together. It was fun and I felt really confident after that, so on the fourth time I knew I could do it. The only problem was, it took us so long to walk up the slope because we were talking and talking and talking with our friends, which was so much fun. Once we made it to the top, Sarah, Brayden, Finn, and I decided that we would make a train of all four of us and make a new trail and slide down the mountain. So, off we went and five seconds later we accidentally put our heels into the ground and when our heels dug into the snow, we tumbled a bit of the way down and then the rest of the way we did somersaults and spun all the way down. It was so much fun! We kept saying that was the best part of Antarctica, I agreed.
Now it’s time for zodiac cruising. Zodiacs are the boats that take the guest from the big boat to the land or ice each day. Our expedition leader, Shaun, asked our parents if it was ok if he take all the kids out and teach us how to drive. Our parents loved the idea. So, off we went. The best driver was by far Callan, although that was because he almost had his drivers license. The second best driver was Rayan and he was only maybe five! I got a new nickname from that drive, “Torpedo.” They nicknamed me “Torpedo,” because I accidentally ran the zodiac into one of the frozen icebergs. Whoops! Then, there was this one girl who was called crazy eyes because she had the most eventful, scariest, craziest, driving ever. Callan was so scared of her driving he laid down on the front of the zodiac closed his eyes and kept yelling, “SWEET BABY JESUS!” in a cowboy voice. It was hilarious!
I can’t believe, being the huge animal lover that I am, I haven’t mentioned all the wildlife we saw in Antarctica. We saw Humpback whales, Orca (Killer whales), Minke whales, which are really little compared to a lot of the other whales. We saw Leopard seals, Elephant seals, Weddell seals, Crab eater seals, Adelie penguins, Chinstrap penguins, Gentoo penguins and so many more amazing and beautiful creatures that are built to survive in the frigid temperatures of the Antarctic region of the world.There were so many times when I would pinch myself and wonder if I was dreaming seeing all these pretty animals and wildlife. I was happy to realize I was awake and enjoying every minute of every moment I got to see these animals and mammals in their natural environment. I kept wondering what they were thinking when they saw all these odd creatures walking around their space in their bright orange parkas?
The last and most epic adventure we experienced was called the Polar Plunge. They tell you about this in the write-ups about going to Antarctica, but you really don’t know what that means or what you would feel like until you actually jump into below freezing water in Antarctica! Yep, that is what Dad, Mom, Brayden and I did one afternoon off the back of the Orion. They have this speaker system where they tell you what is happening for the day and they also leave these notes outside your door every night to tell you what to expect the next day. But, the polar plunge as not on any notes and there was no announcement, until the expedition leader gets on and says, “those of you interested in participating in the polar plunge, meet on the aft deck, level 4 in 10 minutes…in your bathing suits”. WHAT? NOW? Ok, here we go.Mom said she did not want to wait in a line and see everyone come out freezing, so we hustled down the steps, dropped our robes, held hands, said, “1, 2, 3” and the next thing you knew we were underneath -1 degree Antarctic water! AWESOME and FREEZING! Dad came up yelling and everyone laughed. My mom must have realized that my heart stopped and pushed me all the way from where we jumped to the ladder going back on the boat. I am so glad she did, because I now know that I was in shock. You cannot ever be prepared for that. But, I would do it all over again. We all loved it and loved drinking a hot chocolate and jumping in the hot tub, right after the big moment, maybe a little bit more that the polar plunge. Would you do it?
Antarctica was the place for new, amazing outdoor experiences. If you haven’t been in snow and freezing temperatures too much, which I have not and neither had Brayden, Sarah or Finn… well then, Antarctica is the place to go!