Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Panama Canal

Here are the boys at our first stop on the Panama Canal cruise in the Dominican Republic.

We were gone for 17 days and had a blast. We began in San Juan and spent a couple of nights there before boarding our cruise ship. The stops we visited were Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Huatulco Mexico, Acapulco Mexico, Cabo San Lucas Mexico and ended in San Francisco. And of course we went through the Panama Canal. It was a beautiful cruise and the kids had a blast! Here are just a few of the pictures from the trip.

Here is a nice church in Dominican Republic. There was a wedding going on inside while we were there.

This is the one of the forts in Cartagena, Colombia. They built these forts to keep out mainly pirates. The spanish kept a lot of their gold on the land- so many people were trying to get it.

The streets were very clean. The balconies were covered in flowers and were beautiful. I was very impressed how nice it was in Cartagena. I really want to go back and see more!

The ship had a lot of fun things to do, especially for the kids. But they mainly liked to swim in the kid pool with the waterslide and play golf with daddy.

These are the locks that we were just going through for the canal. They are very impressive. I read a great book about the Panama Canal called The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough. I can not believe how many lives it took to build this waterway. It is amazing!

Here we are eating lunch up on the top deck as we are going through the Panama Canal.

Here we are at the dock for Costa Rica.

Cabi is so beautiful. It has been a couple of years since we were last here. Everytime I go there I forget how beautiful it is.

We saw lots of seals. Martin loves to immitate them.

The kids were able to pet lizards.

This was our last night on the cruise. The kids will miss the different animals each night made out of towels and the chocolate on their pillows (or actually on Calvin's face for this picture!) We are always so sad to go home!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Finally the end of Antarctica

I am finally finishing my Antarctica trip. I am not going into much detail about the remaining places I saw, but I am just posting some of my favorite sites and pictures from the trip. This honestly is in my top 5 of places to visit. This trip has been a life changing trip for me. I am so thankful that I was able to see this beautiful part of the world. So, here are a few of my many pictures that I took.

We went to the Polish station and it was amazing. On the beach in front of us were 23 huge (longer than me) sea elephants. They just laid there the entire day while we were walking around. They would make loud snorting noises and every now and then shift positions but mainly they just hung out. I really enjoyed this stop.

We saw so many whale bones littered all throughout Antarctica. This is part of the Polish station.

We made a bunch more stops but here was another stop that I really loved. This used to be the base for Argentina. Now some people are here, but it is mainly the penguins who live here.

We climbed up this huge hill and then proceeded to slide down on our bum. It was very fast and fun. The worst part was when you would suddenly hit a jump, then land hard and keep going. I loved it!!!

Here are a few more pictures of penguins. I love penguins. It was such an experience I will never foget sitting among hundreds of penguins. They would waddle right by you. They are such beautiful animals.

Here is a cute little Adelie penguin.

Here are just some of my favorite scenery shots that I haven't posted yet. We saw hundreds of glaciers and thousands of iceburgs. I also have thousands of amazing pictures that were hard to pick but here are some of my favs!

Beautiful... Gorgeous... Wish you were here!!!!! Oh and no I didn't tint the pictures. The more blue in the iceburg the more compact it is.

A big shock for me were all of the many peaks, mountains and volcanoes that I saw in Antarctica it just isn't white!

Isn't this beautiful?! This is a huge tabular iceburg. They can sometimes be even longer than a mile. We saw quite a few of these. They are huge! They don't come from glaciers and they are long and flat. I loved these iceburgs!

Believe it or not but this picture was taken at about 11:30pm. The sun never completely set at night. It was very eerie and beautiful to walk out on deck in the middle of the night. It can actually be brighter but it had been snowing.

Well this is our final rough day at sea. This is the Cape Horn. We were about to get off the ship here but about 20 minutes before we began to unload a huge storm came up. I was just glad I wasn't on shore when the storm came and got stuck there. This was very beautiful with the waves and there were dozens of albatross birds flying in between the waves. It was an honor to sail around this area with a storm as more sailors have died here than any other place in the world. But I was also incredibly sad to leave. I will never forget the amazing sights I have seen.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Antarctica Part 4- Animal Life

Humback Whales are amazing! We saw over a hundred whales while we were on our ship.

It was very difficult to get any pictures of the whales jumping out of the water. They would go down for about 5 to 10 minutes before they jumped out of the water and they could come up anywhere. I was just lucky to see them breach (jump out of the water). The best one I saw was of a mother and a baby together but unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me at that time.

We saw the most beautiful iceburgs. They were all thousands of years old and huge. We had staff on board to lecture us about the wildlife, glaciers, etc. One of them compared an iceburg to a piece of ice floating in your drink. The tiny piece of ice that shows above the liquid that you are drinking is similar to an iceburg. The majority of the ice (about 5/6th) is below the surface. We had to be very careful cruising through the water.

This picture just shows you how close we would get to the whales. Our Captain was awesome! Because we were in a smaller boat he would follow some whales until we found more and then he would move on and follow them. We would spend hours following the different whales in between our stops on land.

Whenever you saw the tail come up you you knew that most likely they were going to dive down for a few minutes. I think I have about 500 different tail pictures. I am only posting a few.

I know the picture can not do the iceburgs justice. They were spectacular!

One of my favorite parts of the iceburgs were the colors. I thought they were just white but they can be light blue and bright turqoise as well.

This is a common site. We would often see iceburgs filled with seals or penguins. This is a baby leapord seal sitting on an iceburg.

Most whales travel together. This is a mommy and baby traveling together.

This is a whale coming down from breaching. The sun was so bright so it was a difficult picture to get.

Here is another seal sitting on the ice.

The whales also like to roll around. Here he is rolling around waving his fins at us saying hello.

Well here is the end for today. I will try to post some more penguins and the huge elephant seals that we saw on shore tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Antarctica- Part 3 Cuverville and Neko Harbour

Aren't these penguins so cute!!! These are gentoo penguins. Most of the penguins we saw had babies that were about 1 month old. They were so cute. The first thing I noticed when we landed at Cuverville Island was that it really smelled. Penguins do not smell that good. But then I noticed how cute they were and I got over it!
If you want to get a good look at any of these pictures click on them to make them bigger.

Here is me with my family just after we landed. Notice all the penguins behind us.

Here are some more penguins. We saw hundreds if not thousands of penguins while we were in Antarctica. The penguins would all live in one area.

Isn't this sweet? These babies were born late. They were only about 2 weeks old. Unfortunately this means they probably won't make it during the winter. The mom was keeping them warm as the dad was building the nest. Notice him setting the little rock around the mother. Most of the mother penguins were cuddling or feeding the babies as the penguin fathers were building the nests. It was fascinating to watch this out in the open.

We left Cuverville Island and headed over to Neko Harbour. We were excited to reach Neko Harbour because we were finally making a stop on the mainland of Antarctica instead of just the islands.

When we arrived at Neko Harbour my family and I decided to hike through the snow up to the top of this hill to get a good view. This is where we were climbing to. We had to be very careful hiking and not leave the trail as the ice and snow could always cave in and someone could fall quite a ways down.

Here we are climbing.

Here we are at the top. Isn't it beautiful? It was definetly worth the hike!

While we were up there we next to a huge glacier. We were able to see lots of calving (when the snow drops). It would begin by a loud bang noise and then you would see the snow drop down. This one was cascading like a waterfall.

The next two pictures are one of my favorites. I had just climbed down the mountain and had my camera ready as I was looking at the glacier when this huge chunk fell into the sea.

This is the splash the glacier left.

This is a very typical site we saw on most of our landings. The beach was always covered with ice. Some small pieces like these and others were huge- bigger than me.

Here is a gentoo penguin feeding her babies.

The penguins love to swim. They loved to jump in to the water. They would also swim alongside the boat with you. They would jump in and out of the water wherever we went. I loved watching how playful they were.

The next couple of pictures are just of the scenery as we were in our little boat going back to our ship.

I know it is ridculous the amount of pictures I am posting on my blog but believe it or not I took over 2,000 pictures on this trip. So, I can't help but post quite a few. The only thing I can say is that unfortunately the pictures do not do it justice!

I love the light blue that surrounded every iceburg we saw. Tomorrow I will post again and I will post more iceburgs and finally my pictures of the humpback whales and seals. For now I am going to get warm with hot cocoa and remember all the amazing things I was able to witness in Antarctica!