It’s late (well, late for me) Tuesday night and I’m dreaming of going to India.
It’s late (well, late for me) Tuesday night and I’m dreaming of going to India.
Good morning friends—both old and new—I’m so excited I could just about burst! If you are new here (and I have a sneaking suspicion that lots of you are today), welcome! If you are a regular, you might be wondering just what is going on… well, I have great news:
Over 1,500 people applied for this position and I made the top 12. For my fellow math geeks, that’s 0.8% of applicants. Needless to say, I can’t really believe that this is happening. Cue happy dance and level of happiness approaching—or probably equal to—this.
Round two of the competition will whittle the top twelve down to the top three. One of the top three will be the public’s choice, and this is where I am going to need your help!
Starting tomorrow, I need you to mobilize everyone you know to vote for me. I promise, I will never, ever, ask you to vote for me on a facebook competition ever again! I may also bake you a cupcake. (Though… you may not really want me to do that.)
Voting will run from tomorrow, April 24, 2012 at 9 a.m. PST until May 1, 2012 at 4 p.m. PST on Tourism Richmond’s facebook page. I’ll update this post—and tomorrow’s post—with more details about the process when I learn them. In the meantime:
A gigantic thanks to Tourism Richmond for this amazing opportunity.
At 4:00pm on Saturday, January 28, 2012 the hubs and I arrived at the docks in Ushuaia, Argentina to being our journey to Antarctica. Our final continent. The coldest, windiest and driest place on earth.
We were met by the expedition staff of the M/V Ushuaia, checked in, led (way, way down to the D Deck) to our room, and then welcomed on board with a champagne toast and snacks.
We met our fellow travellers at this reception and were quite surprised by the demographic. Given the cost of a trip to Antarctica, we expected the demographic to be older. Apart from the two kids on board (6 and 11), the passengers ranged from their mid-twenties through their late-sixties with the bulk of the passengers being in the 25-35 range or boomers. It turns out that, like us, several people in our demographic booked their spots on the ship about 2-3 weeks before departure, securing up to about 35% off the cost of the trip. (Info on how to get an Antarctic deal forthcoming!)
Shortly after 6:00pm the boat pulled away from the dock and we began our voyage through the Beagle Channel.
The weather was typical mountain weather, it would change from sunny to rainy on the drop of a pin, but nothing could dampen our spirits. We were headed toward the horizon. And beyond that … Antarctica!
We had been warned again and again about the infamous two-day Drake Passage between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands. We were prepared with loads of dramamine, audio books, movies, and books. We were warned again about the passage at an info session that first night. And we were warned yet again about the passage when the staff lined the halls and the common spaces with little white bags.
However – as we awoke on Day 2, we were struck by an unexpeceted sensation. Nothing. It was almost calm. The captain and the staff seemed blown away by how flat the passage was. So we spent the first day of the crossing reading, getting to know our fellow passengers and the expedition staff, taking advantage of the open bridge policy on the boat, attending lectures, watching the albatrosses, and eating. Breakfast at eight, three course lunch at 12:30, afternoon tea at 4:00, and a three course dinner at 7:30. We did not go hungry on this boat.
As the day went on, and we clipped along we grew ever more and more hopeful that we might be able to do a landing the next day! I had heard that in the case of extremely good Drake Passages, sometimes there is a landing on Day 3.
Unfortunately, we awoke on Day 3 to the following daily itinerary:
08:00 Breakfast // 10:00 Penguin Lecture // 12:30 Lunch // 15:00 IAATO and Zodiac briefing // 16:30 Snack // 17:30 Antarctic Pinnipeds lecture // 19:30 Dinner
No landing. Dang.
Or at least so we thought. At 9:00 an announcement from the bridge changed everything. Land ahoy. Penguin lecture moved up to 9:30, IAATO briefing at 11:00, first landing at 15:00 on Robert Point, on the SE tip of Robert Island in the South Shetlands. The morning was a whirlwind of learning, life jacket and boot getting (and, of course, eating) and after lunch the hubs and I stepped out on the (much windier) deck for our first close up views of the Antarctic.
And at three, after a quick zodiac ride from the boat, it was time to take our first steps in the Antarctic. We were greeted by fur seals, elephant seals and chinstrap penguins.
And here again, I run out of words. So I hope pictures can do the three-hour landing that first afternoon justice.
(Those last three snaps were taken with fellow passenger’s Chris and Mike’s friends 100-400 L zoom lens. Playing with their lens made my amazingly amazing day even better!)
Back on the boat we warmed up with tea, enjoyed dinner and then set off across the Bransfield Strait, aka, the mini-Drake. But, just like the Drake, the Bransfield didn’t throw up anything we couldn’t handle. And before we knew it, we were spotting our first random icebergs on our way to the Antarctic continent!
You can see even more pictures from Day 1 to 3 here! And check back Monday for Days 4 and 5: our first continental landing (!baby penguin encounter!), a gigantic Adelie penguin colony, a zodiac tour through an amazing harbour, a surprise whale encounter, and even more baby gentoos!
And, if a trip to the Antarctic is not in your immediate future, and instead you are headed to Europe might I suggest car hire in Italy as an option? We’ve hired cars around the world, mostly notably in South Africa for three weeks, and we love it!
I know you know that there are big things a-brewing in Allison-Suter land. Beautiful things, exciting things, adventurous things! Today, I’m so excited to tell the world (or at least that little part of the world that reads my blog!) of our big, beautiful brilliant, life-changing plans!
29 sleeps from now, on December 15, 2011, we pack up our lives start a new adventure! Goodbye Toronto! Goodbye tax law! My relationships with Toronto, and with being a tax lawyer are both stories for another day. Suffice it to say: I’m ready.
I’m ready to be an entrepreneur. An “under taker”. A do-er of things. I’m going to be a wedding and lifestyle photographer; run a small creative and business business; learn basic programming skills; and after a bit of time, start a business or businesses with the hubs (who will also still be employed by his current employer).
On January 3, 2012 we get on a plane and fly to Buenos Aires! (Don’t worry, we aren’t doing any funky time travel – you know how I feel about time travel – we are spending the intervening 18 days in Alberta and California).
On January 7, 2012 we are shooting a wedding in Punta Del Este in Uruguay, and on January 10, 2012 we settle into a Palermo apartment for probably three months. I’m going to spend most of that period starting things. We hope to spend some of that period going to Antarctica on a last-minute trip! As the next steps of our plans unfurl, I’ll let you know what they are and where we are going to be.
I don’t know what direction this blog is going to go in with these big changes, but it will continue to be a collection of my random thoughts and musings about stuff I love and stuff I do! I will continue to run Allison Suter Photography (concentrating on bookings in the Vancouver market for next summer). We also may take up our travel blog again. Though what we are doing is something different than travelling. It’s going to be our life. I really hate the term “lifestyle design” (it sounds so snooty to me), but really, that’s sort of what we are striving for!
[Oops: In originally writing this post, I counted 12 countries twice. If you've come back wondering why this is now "fifty-two" instead of "sixty-four" there your have it! Chalk it up to first post jitters!]
In my 28 years on earth I have been to 52 countries. Sometimes I surprise even myself. When I wrote out this list this evening, I expected it to be about 40, or maybe 45. Somehow, the number got to 52. Travel-bug anyone?
So how much time have I actually spent there: I’ve spent years in only one of these countries, I spent months in a handful, I’ve spent weeks in several, and some, I’ve barely even scratched the surface. Over the life of this blog, I’ll get into more details about some of these amazing adventures. But for now… check out the picture and/or the list.
Travels with my parents or school while growing up
Exchange to Hong Kong (2004)
Caribbean Beach Holidays
Around the World I – solo (2004)
Pre-Law School Adventure – with the hubs
Around the World II – with the hubs
I know it seems like a lot. But there are still so many places I’m dying to go.
Places on the “top” of my list, in no particular order except number 1:
Oh world. Why are you so big?!