12 hours in Salt Lake City

Honestly, I can’t say that I’m very impressed. Maybe it’s because I’m exhausted (after waking up at 4:30 this morning and taking a five hour bus ride from Jackson Hole down to Salt Lake City) or maybe because it’s freaking hot here and I’m in jeans and sneakers and have a heavy pack on my shoulders. The first place I found after dropping my bag off at the airport and taking a bus into the city was a sprawling outdoor mall with every retail shop you can imagine and kids playing in a jumping water fountain. Not a good introduction to the city. I found a Starbucks, though, and sipped away my headache with a soy latte. I also did a little research on things to do in Salt Lake City and the #1 attraction, according to Trip Adviser, is the library. I had plenty of time – 12 hours to be exact – before my plane departed at 1:00 am, so I thought I might as well try to find it. I hopped on the Trax, an above-ground train, and went several blocks to where I thought the library was located. After walking a few hundred yards away from the station though, I felt the sweat start to drip down my back and thoughts of the air-conditioned Barnes and Noble back at the mall sounded pretty good. I retraced my steps without finding the library and spent the remainder of my waiting game browsing the shelves.

Once again I have been very bad about updating my adventures and whereabouts. My three week contract in Alaska ended with lots of rain, a massive calving in Tracy Arm, bubble net-feeding humbacks, breaching whales, and a salmon fishing bear who wasn’t very good at fishing. The calving was actually a little frightening. I was out in one of the Zodiacs with a few of the guests and we were viewing the glacier from a safe distance amid floating pieces of ice and harbor seals. But even though we were at a quarter of a mile away, we weren’t prepared for the whole face to come sliding off! I didn’t have my camera out to catch it, but it wouldn’t have done the phenomena justice anyway. After the ice broke off we were faced with a ten foot wave slowly rolling its way towards us. Thank g*d it didn’t break, because then we really would have been in trouble. The only thing we had to worry about was the floating bits and pieces of ice surrounding our Zodiac. Several were quite large and it would not have been good if they rolled over beneath us. We made our retreat from the active glacier swiftly and stealthily, riding out the waves and dodging the ice. I’ll admit that my heart was pumping a little faster than usual. I thought it ironic too, that just a few days earlier the Captain Cook experienced a similar calving and a passenger unfortunately fell and broke her leg. Even though I didn’t get any shots of the calving, our Video Chronicler was out in a Zodiac as well, so he caught the whole even on film and I managed to get a copy of the DVD. It’s just as good on video!

After saying goodbye to the Bird in Sitka, I flew down to Jackson Hole to visit my brother for a week. I’d never been to Wyoming, so I was excited to explore a new place! Jackson is a cool town, a little touristy for me, but lots going on and some great outdoor activities. Will took me up to Amphitheater Lake, a ten mile hike in Grand Teton National Park, the first day I arrived. It was beautiful and the lakes at the top were spectacular, but I found it a little difficult to breath. 9,700 feet was a little high after just being at sea level for a month! I also went white water rafting on the Snake River, mountain biking down the steep and winding Blacks trail (which resulted in two bloody knees and a major cramp in my side), and a 7 mile hike around Jenny Lake, also in the Grand Teton National Park. I set out on the last hike by myself, but met another couple somewhere along the trail and we formed a group of three. The trail was mainly flat except for a steep climb up to Inspiration Point that looked out over the lake. At the top I wondered what inspiration the view sparked and for whom…

Will had to work at the hospital during the day, but I managed to fill in the hours with yoga classes at Inversion and delicious smoothies at Lotus Cafe, my new favorite restaurant. Lots of vegan options and mostly organic! I also spent quite a bit of time making calls on my phone and writing e-mails back and forth to the patient and ever-so-helpful office staff at Lindblad. My first day in Jackson I received an email saying that there was an opening for the Baltic trip on the National Geographic Explorer! Of course I jumped on it (check out the itinerary!), but the problem was getting a Russian visa and flights in two weeks. I got it (mostly) sorted out though, and all I’m waiting for is my passport to arrive in the mailbox! Then I’ll be off to St. Petersburg Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Sweden, Poland, Germany, and Denmark on a 15 day cruise! I can’t wait! And I’ll try my best to keep everyone updated on the things I see and the adventures I come across. Not sure what kind of internet service I’ll have though…

Just curious, if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?  

Bigwigs on board

I’m not gonna lie, this week has been tough to get through. Not because of anything on board, but I think the constant travel and work is catching up with me. No matter how much sleep I get, I still feel tired. Needless to say, I’m back to drinking coffee. Only three more days, though, then I get a week off in La Paz. Hopefully it will revive me enough to get though four weeks down in Costa Rica and Panama!

We have a few important guests on this week. One is Tierney Thys, a marine biologist who National Geographic calls “the next generation’s champion of ocean exploration.” Tierney had spent the last decade devoted to studying a giant sunfish called the mola mola (pictured above. And no, I didn’t take it). These fish can grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh over 5000 pounds. Their main source of food is jellyfish. That’s a whole lot of jellyfish to get that big! Read more about the mola molas here.

Another, no less distinguished, guest is John Francis. Currently he is the vice president for Research, Conservation, and Exploration at National Geographic. He has extensively studied seals and sea lions in North and South America and as a film maker, has produced a number of NatGeo films, including several on the blue whales. Watch a clip of his video here

To go along with the NatGeo theme, we have Gil Grosvenor and his wife on board. Gil is the past president and chief executive of the National Geographic Society (which was established by his grandfather) and he just recently stepped down from Chairman of the Board of Trustees. In 2004 he was awarded – by President G.W. Bush – the Presidential Metal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the US. It recognizes those individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Also, Gil Grosvenor is the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell. You know, the guy who invented the telephone.

Finally, though she’s not on board yet, Sylvia Earl will be joining us today (we’re in San Lucas Del Cabo for the afternoon) and sailing with us until Saturday. Sylvia has too many titles, awards, and accomplishments for me to mention now (you can read about them here), but basically she is the female version of Jacques Cousteau. An oceanographer by trade, she has been at the forefront of ocean exploration and conservation since the 1970’s. I’m very excited to meet her and anxious to hear what she has to say about the state of our oceans (I have heard that her current suggestion is to stop eating fish for two years to let the population recover).

Should be interesting!

Another Year, Another Adventure

I can hardly believe it myself, but I’ve managed to stay put in one place for almost 7 months! My goal was six, so I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve been living in Burlington since I finished massage school in June (Vancouver School of Bodywork and Massage – I highly recommend it to anyone interested in becoming a bodyworker) and working in the cafe at Healthy Living as well as Oasis Day Spa on Wednesday evenings. I’ve also been doing lots of yoga at Evolution and working on my handstands. My next goal is jumping into crow from downward dog. Maybe in about 10 years…

I never thought I would share an apartment with my brother, but it has worked out surpisingly well. He got the better deal, though, because I brought home tons of free food while working at HL and have kept the place clean and relatively neat. I’m sure I’ll be sorely missed when I’m gone. I don’t think Mark, the new roommate, will be acting as Will’s personal maid.

So, that brings me to “A new year, a new adventure”! I’m taking off for Costa Rica on Friday to meet the Sea Lion – one of Lindblad’s National Geographic cruise ships. For those of you who didn’t follow my last blog, also called whereonearth, I started working for Lindblad a few months after I bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii in November 2007. I worked for them as a Steward/Senior Steward for about a year, traveling to Alaska, the Columbia River, and Baja, then took a year off to go to massage school and visit friends and family back here in Vermont. Now it’s time to get back on board, this time to Costa Rica for a month, then up the Pacific Coast to Seattle and finally up to Alaska, where I’ll disembark in June. I’m looking forward to getting back on the ship meeting new people, exploring new and places and visiting old territories, but I’ll miss the friends and people I’ve gotten to know in and around Burlington these past 6 months. I feel like I’ve set down a few roots and whether or not Burlington will become my home town, I’m know I’ll be back again to visit. Until then, check back for stories about my adventures, photos of places I go, people I meet, and things I see, and anecdotes about living on a 152-foot ship with 62 guests and 25 crew. There are bound to be mishaps and shenanigans.