Monday, January 16, 2017

Antarctica I

1-16-17 SANTIAGO, CHILE: We arrived here on our way to Antarctica after flights from Newark to Houston and then from Houston to Santiago, Chile. We arrived at the same time as about three other flights, all big planes, and there were massive lines to go through passport control, customs, check-in for our next flight, and security screening. The joys of flying.

Santiago is quite a bit below the equator, about the same Latitude as Atlanta in the U.S. and about the same Longitude as New York, but two hours earlier on the clock. One hour might be for DST, but I don’t understand the other extra hour. It’s summer here and people in the airport are in shorts and tees.

Our third flight is to Punta Arenas, which is almost at the tip of South America on the Strait of Magellan. We overnight there before flying on to King George Island, which is just off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and where we meet our ship.

1-16-17 PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE: We got here at 7 PM with full sun, dusk was at 11 PM. It’s ‘July’ here but people are walking around in parkas, and there is a brisk wind blowing in off the Strait of Magellan. We checked in with One Ocean, our tour managers, had dinner and did a quick tour of the town after the organizational meeting.

 Tomorrow we fly again, a charter flight, to King George Island in Antarctica where we board the ship. It’s the same ship, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, on which we did the Spitsbergen trip two summers ago. It’s a Russian icebreaker designed for scientific expeditions.

We are staying at the Hotel Rey Don Felipe. Did I mention Valerie is on the trip also? She brings a unique perspective and different vision to the adventure.

This first entry for this trip may be the last for a while. I did put up two pix today, but they went up very slowly. The ship WiFi is quite limited. I will probably do what I have done before—tell the stories afterwards.

A shot of the Andes north of Santiago from the airplane window looking to the west and looking pretty arid.

Imperial Shags on the beach at Punta Arenas.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chocolate and Comet.

1-11-17 SHORT HILLS: It’s warmer now, in the fifties today, and the snow is vanishing. This morning, looking at the yard from upstairs, the snow resembled a white doily. All the footprints, dog and human, have melted down letting the ground show through and giving the snow cover the look of lace. I cleaned up some broken branches and broken bamboo.

Two nights ago we went out for Thai with Lynn and Bill, and yesterday I had lunch with Bill at Nero’s. Last night Judy and I had Dinner at the Glass House Tavern on 47th St. before we saw The Great Comet of 1812 at the Imperial Theatre on 45th St. We had a very fast trip in, the city seems deserted in comparison to the crowds and traffic during the Holidays.

To kill time before the dinner rez, we walked up to 48th St. in Times Sq. and visited the M & M store. It’s a religious experience if you’re a chocolate worshipper. We bought nightshirts, Judy’s is green and says ‘sweet’. The Hershey store is across the street making it the Chocolate Corner. The restaurant was fine.

The show, The Great Comet of 1812, had some great minutes, but sometimes dragged. The fourth wall is non-existent in this production. Part of the audience is seated on stage, and the performers are frequently out in the orchestra in the aisles and on walkways. The music was a mash of Russian, gypsy and hip-hop. The story BTW is an adaptation of a small chunk of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace dealing with the attempted elopement/abduction of Natasha by Anatole. No spoiler alert necessary, it’s all laid out in the Playbill. DenĂ©e Benton is radiant as Natasha.

Tuesday Night Fever at the M & M Store.

Hershey Store with familiar logos out front.

Set for The Great Comet of 1812 at the Imperial Theatre.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Another Snow.

1-8-17 SHORT HILLS: We got more snow yesterday, about six inches, with wind, and with temps in the teens. We did get to a local restaurant for dinner with Lonnie and Bette. This time we needed the driveway plowed. The plowers arrived in the middle of the night, which upset Bally enormously. He barked until they finished.

Today we decided to forgo our usual Sunday afternoon walk because the temps were in the low teens, it was windy, and the roads were icy. I know that it’s not single-digits-Vermont cold, but it’s too cold for us. The early season charm of new snow is already wearing thin.

Sunset at the end of a cold day.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Scant Snow.

1-6-17 SHORT HILLS: The last two days have been colder, and last night we got almost an inch of snow. It looks best in the morning when all the trees and shrubs are sprinkled with white, but by now, mid-afternoon, they’re snow free.

I saw an article about a Swedish nurse who skied solo from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole, pulling a sled with supplies, and setting a record for time. On the return trip she’s using a kite to pull herself along. Amazing. Link below:

Catch the snow in the early morning and all the trees are dusted.

It's not too deep at less than an inch.

You can see why deciduous trees do better than evergreens.

Goldfinch and house finch chowing down.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year.

1-1-17 SHORT HILLS: We came back to NJ earlier than planned and ahead of the storm that dumped about a foot of snow on VT and northern New England. All we got here was rain, a good bit of rain, but not a flake of snow. The snow that we had has disappeared.

Today we did a walk with friends Ron, Bebe, Lynn and Bill and friends of a different species Gus, Bally, Maizie, Bella, Pepper and Annie. It was about 50° today, cloudless, with a mild breeze. We saw pansies still in bloom.

We did have some cold weather and frost in December, but not enough to shut these flowers down. Tuesday is supposed to be even warmer.

I saw a Trump spokesperson interviewed on CNN by Chris Cuomo. He said the earth is 5,500 years old. At 5.5 billion years, the earth is a million times older than his said it was. Some trees are 5,000 years old. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy four years to, sort of, quote Bette Davis in All About Eve. Link below.

Not what I expect in January.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

White Xmas.

12-25-16 VERMONT: Two days ago we had bight sun and a warm, 30°F., day and the Solstice party at night with a bonfire. Yesterday we had a dark, overcast, gray sky with snow, also 30°F. Today there’s bright sun again, it’s still 30°F., but wind speed in the 20’s makes it feels like the teens.

Everybody here last night stuffed themselves at Judy’s table. There were no presents under the tree this morning, as neither of us needs anything else, but also because we decided to support National Resources Defense Council and Planned Parenthood.

Another party tonight.

Judy leading the dogs around the pasture.

Low winter sun through the trees.

Long shadows at the solstice.

Solstice party bonfire at the neighbors. There were high school seniors, college seniors and us, seniors also.

Next day, Xmas Eve, more snow.

Bally after a satisfying roll in the snow.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Vermont Solstice.

12-22-16 VERMONT: We drove up yesterday on a sunny, winter solstice day. There were about six inches of crusty snow here, not quite enough to require snowshoes. Today we got new snow, about three inches more.

Just before evening yesterday, I walked out in the pasture with the dogs and cut down a good-sized white pine. I had to cut about three feet off the bottom to make it light enough to drag back up to the house. Once I stood it upright on the deck, with Judy’s help, we decided it needed about five feet off the top to fit inside the house. When we got it inside, I had to shorten the lower branches to get the door opened and closed and to give us room to walk around it. The upper parts were untrimmed and extend out further into the room than the bottom branches. I also tied the upper trunk to a hook on the corner post of the room to stabilize the tree. It’s decorated now, and I think it looks great, even if some disparaging remarks have been made about the tree by another person.

Tomorrow we have a Solstice party across the road at Steve and Diana’s, Xmas eve we are feeding some neighbors here, and the next day we are at Dave and Shari’s for dinner. After all that, it’s probably left-overs for the foreseeable future.

I put some pix on FB of the Family Winter Birthday Bash held at the Red Rooster. It was brunch with the Gospel Choir of Harlem performing. Chef Marcus Samuelsson knows what he is doing in the kitchen, and we can’t wait until he opens his planned restaurant in Newark.

Last Monday Judy took Gus the therapy dog to Lincoln Elementary School in Newark for the Xmas Party. I came along to carry the bags of stuffies that Judy collected over the summer in the Upper Valley of VT and NH and to take pix. A couple of those pix are on my FB page also.

Dark, overcast morning with lots of snow, but we ended up with only three inches.

It was snowing in Hanover as well.

Our garage has started to shed snow from the roof.

Late, partial clearing gave us a sunset through thin clouds.

It's not a giant squid threatening us from the corner of the living room. but a large Holiday tree. I cut down this white pine in the pasture, dragged it up to the house and cut pieces off of it until it fit inside. I needed to cut more off to get the door open and closed. Where is it written that all trees need to have a conical shape?