Down With the System

From Home Base, Kim writes: I woke up this morning thinking about the Antarctic trip. Not that that's unusual. I've thought of little else since we got back! But, last night Kenn and I had dinner with our dear friend Delores Cole. You might recall that I mentioned in an earlier post that Delores was on the trip too. Of course the main topic of conversation was the trip, and we spent a lot of time talking about some of our favorite experiences. So, naturally, I dreamt about it all night, and woke up feeling all energized by thoughts of icebergs, glaciers, whales, and of course, penguins. So, I've infiltrated the "daily trip reporting system" (an approach that I had to convince Kenn to use) to insert a few gratuitous and completely random photos. I'm sure Kenn will be TOTALLY fine with it! He really understands me and my "quirky" ways. He's always so understanding and tolerant. Plus---he's not here right now! : )

Kenn doesn't normally like the approach of --and then, on this day, we went here and saw that-- et cetera. But, I convinced him that for this particular trip, it would help to put things in perspective if we put our posts in chronological order. I felt it would give a sense of time and place to the birds and wildlife we encountered, and a better understanding of the time at sea between each landing. And, as long as we included photos, and Kenn added all the juicy bits of detail about the birds, I didn't think it would be boring. So, if you're bored reading about albatross and whales, penguins and icebergs, please don't tell Kenn! Instead, maybe you could help me out by posting comments saying things like: "Wow! What a GREAT way to share an experience!" Or, "Gee, This approach REALLY works well for me", or something like that! Boy, Kenn had better come home soon! Yikes!

So, now that I've convinced Kenn that we should describe the trip in day-by-day order, here's a post that does just the opposite: here are some random trip photos, courtesy of Kim "the brat" Kaufman:

I could not have imagined how colorful and lovely ice could be. On the first day of the trip, a woman admitted to me that she was somewhat disappoined that her husband had picked the Antarctic as their trip destination for this year, because it seemed to her that the place would be colorless: "I mean, it's all white for goodness sakes!" When I related this to Kenn, he was quiet for a long time. What he finally said to me, in his quiet wonderful way was so beautiful. He said, "A painter often will work with just a limited palette. That's what brings out the drama and the depth in each color."
One of the surprisingly challenging things about the trip was simply trying to have dinner. I would say that roughly 1/3 of the time, just as meals were being put on the table, someone would yell, "Whale!" Or, "Iceberg!" The entire dining room would clear out, and we'd all stand shivering together on the back deck, admiring what ever glorious "thing" happened to be drifting past. In this case is was not "just" an iceberg. It was an iceberg sprinkled with Adelie Penguins!

I spent several minutes kneeling on the ground studying this little Adelie Penguin chick. "He" had just been fed, and was happily napping in the sun. Occasionally, he would open his eyes and blink at me, but beyond that our interaction was pretty passive. At least physically. It was impossibly hard, but I resisted the overwhelming urge to reach out and softly stroke the top of his head. But, emotionally, this encounter with one little penguin had a profound impact on me. Although I've thought about it a lot, I still can't really say why. I mean, I know you can't see it in this picture, but beyond this one adorable individual, are thousands of Adelies, looking pretty much like exactly like this one. But, there was just something about "my" little penguin.

King Penguins are just the coolest thing that Mother Nature ever dreamed up! I gotta tell ya that a lot of the bird names out there, are, well, OUT THERE! I mean, Cinnamon-rumped Foliage Gleaner? Come on! But, whoever named the King Penguin nailed it! I have no idea whether he ever did, but I secretly hope that Elvis got to see a King Penguin at some point in his life. I know that if we could undertand Penguin-eese, a lot of the trumpeting going on in the King Penguin colony would sound like, "Thank you! Thank you very much!" In this photo, twin "Elvis" Penguins take a bow.

Well, I've gotta make tracks. ; ) Kenn will be home soon, and I don't want to get caught in the act! It's been fun being bad with you. And, remember to help me out here, K&K blog readers.... Make sure you tell Kenn how you love the trip reporting method. btw...In case you're wondering, the footprint was made by an Adelie Penguin. I can't wait to show you pictures of their feet up close!


  1. Are those feathers on the beak of that little chick?

  2. Wow, brat...I mean Kimm, great photos.
    Tell Kenn I said it's okay...

  3. Your baby penguin there gives me the shivers. Very cool!

  4. Kim (and Ken),
    Keep those photos and stories coming. Its a dream trip for all of us and we must live vicariously through you (for now). Thanks for the terrific stories!

  5. I think if you invented the rule, you should be allowed to break it. I do like travelogues that go in order, so I am enjoying your series. But, I also like a little bit of rebellion, so this "out of order" post is great, too.

    Baby penguins! They look so soft and squishable - How did you resist smooshing one? I love the photo of the "Elvis penguins," in perfect symmetry. What did you have to pay them to pose for you? And finally, I, too, expected Antarctica to be pure white, and the crystal blue color of that first ice berg blew me away.

    Fabulous blogging! Wonderful style! Awesome photos! Keep 'em coming! (Is that enough raving to keep you out of the doghouse?)


  6. Hello everyone,

    Spaverius: YES--Those are feathers! It's amazing to be close enough to appreciate just how insulated penguins really are.

    I'll post a story later about the remains of a penguin I found on one of the islands. A Leopard Seal had eaten most of it, which I know sounds rather sad, but the way they do it, while pretty graphic, is also fascinating.

    Looking at the remains was a great opportunity to look at the feathers up close--something I was eager to do. I've looked at tens of thousands of passerines in the hand, and I really wanted to look at the penguin feathers and skin up close for comparison.

    I'll post something about this later, but it was really cool!


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  8. The penguins are cool of course but that iceberg is just awe inspiring!

  9. Hi Kathi,

    I'm so happy that you follow our blog! You sound like an incredibly intelligent woman who makes sound observations based on perfect judgement.

    Thanks for helping me out!

    ~Kim : )

  10. Oh, Kim, you certainly can tap the emotions. I could imagine sitting on the ground, no matter how cold and enjoying an intimate moment with this fluffy wonder. And that blue ice photo is gorgeous.

    Kenn is so right. One of my favorite painting experiences is full of neutrals with only a splash of color. Neutrals can be so exquisitely beautiful. White is seldom entirely white. The earth and atmosphere is so full of color hues and light variations that color reflects everywhere.

    And to tell you both how much I'm enjoying your reports and experiences, I'll add that our minds and interests seldom remain single focused. We experience and re-experience on a multitude of levels and your Kenn-and-Kim style of interweaving the scientific with experiential pleasures is the perfect magnet to keep us coming back for more.


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