Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Beagle Channel, Argentina

Posted at 9:30 pm, December 29th, 2003

After a morning spent in Tierra Del Fuego National Park the M/V Polar Star set sail at about 6:00 PM. As we were setting out the thought occurred to me that if, at that moment, I was offered the chance to go anywhere on the planet, I would have chosen to stay right there in my spot perched on the bow, watching the albatrosses glide over the waves while terns and gulls did their acrobatics above. I skipped dinner in order to have more time sitting out in the drizzle watching the mountains on the shore slide by while seabirds cavorted all around and the occasional penguin or sea lion dove underneath the boat. To say that I’m excited about the days to come would be a vast understatement.

Ushuaia, Argentina

Posted at 5:30 pm, December 28th, 2003

After barely sleeping on the flight from Miami to Buenos Aires I couldn’t keep my eyes open while flying to Ushuaia until I woke up to see the Beagle Channel rolling out under the plane, pockmarked by rugged little islands while the snow-covered Andes towered overhead. That got me out of my slumber pretty fast, and after landing and checking into the hotel I immediately set out and roamed all over the town and hillsides. It was all I could do to look up at the mountains, seeing the ocean and knowing that I’m standing at the end of the world, and not start screaming about how great it is to be alive. The frightening thing about that experience is that today will likely be the worst day of the trip.

With the possible exception of the Falklands I don’t think there will be internet access available again until the end of January, so it’s rather embarassing to possibly leave this as my last entry for a while, but it has to be said: the women in Buenos Aires are insanely beautiful. Until today I thought Barcelona had the most beautiful women in the world, but after only an hour in Buenos Aires I’m confident in saying that the title has changed hands, and that the match wasn’t even close. Not to say that women in Barcelona aren’t amazing, but if you haven’t been to Buenos Aires… woah.

35,000 feet over Columbia

Posted at 11:30 pm, December 27th, 2003

It’s been twenty-four hours in planes and airports, and there’s about sixteen hours to go, but the trip is nonetheless off to a good start. As expected it looks like nearly everyone is in the over fifty crowd, but among the staff there are some real nuts who seem to be at least as brain damaged as I am (possibly moreso in the case of Tim and Carter). The stories that come out when these guys start talking are awesome — sailing boats across the oceans, past trips to Antarctica, near-death stories about biking on homemade mountain bikes, and a million others. Each of the staff seems to either be a naturalist, photographer, or have some similarly interesting magical power. The game is most definitely on.

Concord, California

Posted at 5:30 pm, December 26th, 2003

T-minus six hours. I’m packed, but I’ve got way more stuff than I’d like to be carrying. I’m tempted to leave the tent behind and take my chances in Patagonia, but visions of snow and a frozen Ryan wrapped in a sleeping bag and poncho make that one a tough call. Anyhow, here’s the trip itinerary:

  • Dec. 26 – Leave SFO for Ushuaia (via Miami and Buenos Aires)
  • Dec. 29 – Board the M/V Polar Star
  • Dec. 31 to Jan. 2 – Falkland Islands
  • Jan. 5 to Jan. 11 – South Georgia Island
  • Jan. 15 to Jan. 20 – Antarctic Peninsula
  • Jan. 23 – Return to Ushuaia
  • Jan. 23 to early Feb. – Backpacking in Patagonia

I’ll be keeping daily updates during the trip, but will only be able to upload them when an internet connection is available, so it’s going to be a few weeks between updates. E-mails will be much appreciated, so if you have some time drop me a note and I’ll respond when I can. Best wishes to everyone in the New Year — see you in a few months!