Thursday, October 15, 2009

Message from the North

Got a call from Janet today! They're docked overnight in Ny Alesund. She called from the town's one payphone.

The group has invaded the town - the most northerly permanantly inhabited spot on Earth. Population is usually 24 scientists, but tonight there's 15 artists driving the locals crazy.

Over the past few days the group weathered stormy seas just fine (although one passenger had to be given Xanax to handle the swells). They spent some time battened in their bunks, as seas have been quite rough -- she said she heard objects falling all over the boat (her cameras are fine).

They made it to Moffin island (past 80 north), where they had a close encounter with a walrus - one swam out to their boat, and tossed seashells to them. They've been in Kongsfjorden (near Ny Alesund) the past few days.

On the way to Moffin, they passed many polar bears -- including eight adults feeding on a dead whale. The crew said that this was the most bear they've ever seen in one place. Janet enjoyed watching them -- they gorged on whalemeat, sunned their full tummies, and played with each other -- including belly slides on the ice!

She's been kayaking almost every day -- with polar bears, in sleet, even through a snow storm! She's using her new Canon SLR camera, which acts as a high-def video camera. She also has a small waterproof Sanyo camcorder attached to the nose of the kayak (thanks to George Najar, photo-tech genius).

Food has not been a problem - there's a chef on board, and their chow has included Moroccan lamb on couscous, cod with orange cream sauce, and salmon on squid-ink pasta! She says the desserts are even better.

Sounds like they've had quite an adventure. Yesterday she hiked through show up past her knees (tracked by yet another curious polar bear).

They're going to spend the next four days sailing back to Longyearbyen. I'm looking forward to her next update!

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