Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Early Season in Antarctica

As is the norm lately I’m super late getting blog posts up, but I do have a pretty good collection of photos from the first part of the season down here in Antarctica and figured it was better to share them a few months late than not at all. 

The summer season at McMurdo Station is called mainbody and runs from early October through the end of February.   Much of the early season work is on the sea ice, which is one of my favorite parts about being down here because it’s one of the only dynamic things down here that can drastically change from day to day.  And being on the sea ice is the best chance to see wildlife, well besides some of the strange creatures that work in McMurdo. 

Here’s a small collection of photos from the McMurdo Sound area in October and November.  

I was bartending on Halloween night and when we closed at 1am and was far too hyped up to go to sleep.  So I grabbed my camera and went for a walk. Even though the sun didn't set,  it was still low enough in the sky to create the last sunset/sunrise colors that I saw for the rest of the season.

October was full of horrible weather, with only a few days clear and calm enough to get outside and get work done.  On this clear day Mt. Erebus was still covered in lenticular clouds meaning super high winds high on the mountain. 

Shackleton's Hut at Cape Royds hides a plethora of gourmet food, such as these cans of 100 year old beef loaf. 

In mid-November I helped out a group of seal biologists.  They tag Weddell Seals as part of a seal population study that has been going on for over 40 years.

I only saw penguins one day this year out on the sea ice, but that day I saw over a hundred Emperor Penguins waddling and sliding across the ice.  We stopped to sit and watch the first few groups, but as the day went on penguins sitings became comparable to seeing cows on the side of the road while driving though Montana.  

Exploring an ice cave in the Erebus Glacier Tongue.  The open space inside this cave is from a crevasse that was sealed off by snow and wasn't revealed again until the glacier tongue broke off while floating into the ocean. 

Emperor Penguins hanging out along the sea ice edge in McMurdo Sound. 

The Royal Society Range from the sea ice during a traverse carrying fuel and cargo across McMurdo Sound to Marble Point which is a helicopter refueling station for the Dry Valleys. 

The Adelie Penguin colony at Cape Royds.

Home Sweet Home:  McMurdo situation on the southern tip of Ross Island.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Travel Photos from 2014

Somehow 2014 turned into a year of travel: visiting all seven contents, 59 flights on commercial, private and military planes, thousands of frequent flier miles and tens of thousands of photos taken.  

It doesn't look like 2015 will end up being such a busy travel year, but should be interesting in its own right.

Here is a quick highlight of just a few of my favorite photos from each continent this year. 

Map made at

North America: 

Ice caves in the Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska.
Looking down on Higgins Avenue, Missoula, Montana


Dhow boats on Dubai Creek in an older section of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest building dominates the night in Dubai.

One of the few shots I got in Christchurch, New Zealand.
A shadow of Christchurch's new city skyline.

 South America
Kid's play frisbee with us, while struggling to hold onto the snacks we gave him, in the Santa Cruz Valley of Peru.
Morning at Tongariki, Easter Island, Chile.

A Martial Eagle enjoys it's evening meal in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
The most intense eyes I've ever seen.
Zazoo from the Lion King.
Harold the Hippo.  He's always in his pond so the safari guides go there when they are having a slow wildlife  day.
Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey
Fishing in Istanbul's Bosphorus River.
Of course I had to see Big Ben during my day in London.

Adelie Penguin rookery at Cape Royds in McMurdo Sound.
A young Weddell Seal pup

Looking toward the Royal Society Range while flying into the Dry Valleys Region of Antarctica.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Southbound C-17

I guess it is time to break the blog post silence with a short post about my flight down to Antarctica this year.

Christchuch, New Zealand is our jumping off point to fly to McMurdo.
After the earthquake, downtown Christchurch is being rebuilt and there are art installations everywhere.

I've wanted to fly on the C-17 since I started working in Antarctica.  My first flight down was on the Airbus 319 leased from the Australian Antarctic Division and used to transport people to McMurdo during the first month or so of the summer season.  Despite having a nice airline seat to sit in and a good view the whole time I was bummed that I didn't get to ride on the C-17.
The C-17 landing in McMurdo in April 2013.
The inside of the C-17
The Airbus 319.
The LC-130 Hercules
Inside of the C-17
The cockpit of the C-17

Looking down into the C-17 from the cockpit. 
On my next few trips between McMurdo and Christchurch I was on the LC-130 Hercules, which is louder, less comfortable and takes 3 hours longer than the other two planes.  But this year I finally got to ride down on the C-17!

Weddell Seals just outside of McMurdo Station.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Northern Nicaragua, Part 3: Deep Sea Fishing and Kayaking

This is the final installment of my series on northern Nicaragua.   The trip was sponsored by Green Pathways and MatadorU.

My final day along the Pacific coast of northern Nicaragua was spent entirely on the water.   A morning of fishing called for an early wake up to head out in a relatively small boat owned by a local fisherman named Noel.  His house was on a concrete slab with the small dock as his front porch—all sheltered by the mangrove forest that we would kayak through later in the afternoon. 

 It was a slow day in the water and the frigate birds were catching more fish than us.  The owner of the boat said it is usually wasn’t that slow on the water since he catches enough fish to support his family.  Until the last half and hour on the water the most action we saw were two sea turtles mating on the surface of the water.  Just before heading back we hooked a mackerel and brought it back for lunch.  Less than two hours later is was grilled and sitting on my plate surrounded by rice, beans and fried plantains.  Delicious!

Later in the afternoon, we headed back to Noel’s house and hopped in a couple of kayaks to explore the mangrove forests.  Many of the passages only open up in low tide and reveal tunnels and hidden beaches behind the walls of mangrove trees.  As a kid this would be the ultimate place to have a tree fort within this secret mangrove kingdom.  After learning a bit about mangrove ecology, we raced back to the dock before the evening thunderstorms came in and concluded my last day in Nicaragua.

Kayaking through tunnels in the mangrove forest.

Mangrove trees live in saltwater and sacrifice a few of their leaves (the yellow ones shown above)
to rid the whole tree of the extra salt.