Monday, January 7, 2008


Yup - that's right gators. After 17 El Pasoans spent an entire day waiting to get on the standby flight list out of Miami (where we had missed our original flight), we were able to book flights for half of us to travel on Jan 7th and the other half to get home on the 8th. That meant we had Jan 6th free to go see the Everglades. Although we really wanted to get home, we all became excited when we realised we now had another chance to get make another "landing". We met up with Miami dweller Paulo and travelled to Everglades National Park where we saw gators, lots of beautiful birds like anhingas, turtles, sawgrass, and sun! It was nice to be warm!
Nine of us - including me - are travelling home now. (Can't wait to see my sweet (neurotic) dog, Otis), while there are 8 people left in Miami and travelling to the Florida Keys today with Craig.
See you soon!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Hi from Chile!

Well... our plane is delayed in Santiago, so I thought I would drop you all a line.

Our last days in Ushuaia were action packed! Everyone made presentation on their research projects and developed timelines for completing them over the next few months. There is tons of great results and we are planning to travel to several conferences to present them.

We had an adventure in Patagonia including a great BBQ (see pic) and we went canoeing!

We ended our last day with a slide show of everyone's FANTASTIC pictures (I will post some on-line soon!) and discussion everyone's firsts. Out of the 29 participants, 9 had never travelled outside North America before, 21 had never been to a pole, 7 had never been on a snow slide (1 had never seen snow) and 13 had never been in the open ocean. Other fists include the first time being away from family for the holidays, the first time seeing whales and the first time in a canoe!

Looks like our flights will be late tomorrow... arg... see you soon!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Mitzel en el fin del Mundo Parte 4 (Mitzel at World´s End Part 4)

Ok I do apologize for not writing before...we returned from Antarctica Saturday morning and although I really would have liked to stay there longer, I was ready to come back. If I try to tell you about every single detail of my excursion, this is going to turn into a novel so I´ll save it ´til we get together and talk about it. It will be better that way I can share my 20 thousand photos!!! JK, close but not quite. There´s really no correct or precise way to describe Antarctica. It´s a magical, pristine, eye-catching, mouth-opening, and breath-taking place. To this day, 2 days after being back, I still cannot believe I was there... I cannot believe I left a footprint on that continent. A continent not a lot of people visit. I remember when I talked to many of you, I told you how it was soooo weird to say, ¨hey, I´m going to Antarctica!¨I mean, who says that? Well, I said it, and I was there! I will save the details about the trip but I can tell you I did my research, I met people from different places, I took a polar plunge (meaning that I jumped into the freezing waters of the ocean wearing nothing but my swim suit!!!) and now i´m back at Ushuaia analyzing and creating presentations about the data collected from our research. It has been an extremely exhausting time but our professors were nice enough to let us have yesterday and take up an adventure of our choice. I, along with other 12 or something, colleagues went on a 4 hr horse-back riding excursion. We traveled close to the Tierra del Fuego National Park and right along side the Beagle Channel. By the way, Beagle is also a beer brand. Oh by the way, Happy New Year!!! After our excursion yesterday, we had reservations at a hotl for a really nice and intimate New Year´s party!! I was a bit bummed that I was not sharing this day with my family and loved ones, but you know what, that just made the bond that was created with other members a lot stronger and I had a great time and I´m glad I was able to share that day with them. Today has been a day of extreme work preparing our presentations for the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow, another adventure day has been set up and that appears to be a full day thing so that should be fun. I really miss all of you and although I really don´t want to go back, knowing that there are people out there that I love and appreciate, makes me want to come back and share my trip with you!!

Love you all!!!

P.S. see you Saturday!!!

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year to friends, family, and students in Mrs. Smith´s class in Brashear, MO. Yeah! I have finally figured out how to post to this blog. Where should I start??? I am back in Ushuaia, Argentina now. The Antarctic expedition was truly incredible. I loved being in blizzard conditions in the zodiac roaming around the icebergs. The penguins are amazing as they steal stones from each other´s nests and toddle around with flippers extended as if walking a tightrope. Wait until you see my pictures!! Our research projects are coming along quite well -- my group studied glaciers to see what effect, if any, climate change is having. I did not get sea sick at all on the trip. During the most turbulent waters in the world, the Drake Passage, I wore a patch to prevent sea sickness, but it make me blurry-eyed and very sleepy. On the way back, I didn´t use the patch and I was fine. We actually had a pretty easy crossing both times. I did sleep a lot because the boat just rock, rocked me to sleep. I miss everyone and want to hear about your Christmas and New Year´s Eve. Hugs to all, especially Cheyenne, Mikaeja, and Isabella. I have access to email, so email me!!! I will be home Saturday. See you soon!


Monday, December 31, 2007

Monday, December 31

Wow - what an great day we had yesterday! ROAMers spent the past one and a half days organizing and analyzing data from their research projects in Antarctica - and they have found some really interesting results. What is the effect of penguin colonies on water quality? What impact do tourists have on the Antarctic environment? Are glaciers retreating in Antarctica? What is the distribution of different plant communities on the peninsula? How can we take the lessons we've learned during our field research in Antarctica to classrooms across the US? All of these questions will be answered soon! Here's a photo of Sarah & Katie looking at algae samples.

Today we are taking a break from our labwork to see some more of the fascinating Patagonian environment. ROAMers have chosen between adventures in horseback riding, sea kayaking, mountain biking and sailing. And tonight all 34 of us will celebrate the incoming new year at a group buffet dinner.
Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dec. 29

Yup - we're the luckiest people in the world.

The afternoon before we left Antarctica the captain stopped the ship in the middle of the Gerlache Strait so we could watch 7 humpback whales feeding on krill around the ship. It was amazing! Then we braced ourselves to enter the Drake Passage, but once again, we shouldn't have worried, the crossing was relatively smooth.

We are now back in Ushuaia finalizing our research projects - we will post more info soon. Thought you'd like to see a photo of the group in Antarctica on Cuverville Island.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wed. Dec. 26

Well... this is our last day in Antarctica. We have been moored in the harbor of Port Lockroy since last night. We will head ashore to this museum and post office in just a few minutes. This British Station is one of the most highly visited sites in the area - and will be where we get our passports stamped from Antarctica! They do some interesting research here comparing penguin colonies that tourists are allowed to visit, with penguin colonies that tourists cannot access, to determine if tourists adversely affect penguin breeding success. At this site, there appears to be no negative impact. Have I mentioned already that we tourists are required to stay at least 5m (15 ft) from all wildlife? Penguins can get stressed if humans approach their nesting sites too closely, and if their eggs are left unattended, they may get eaten by predatory birds like the skuas. OK - I'm off - I don't want to miss any of this last day in Antarctica!

Tonight we enter the Drake Passage again. Will it be as smooth as our last crossing? That is the question of the day...