For the first time in 6 weeks, I don’t get to start my journal with a speed, course, and location heading. My luggage and I arrived safely back in San Francisco this morning after leaving on Saturday afternoon. It took 3 flights for me to get to California and some of the researchers had to catch 4 different planes. San Francisco welcomed me with beautiful bright, sunny weather that made me smile. Then again, even if it had been our usual cold, foggy weather it would have felt warm compared to some of the temperatures we had been experiencing.
We pulled into Punta Arenas on Friday night and everyone was excited to get on land and explore what it felt like to walk on solid ground again. Several us went out for dinner once we got into port. Since the NBP hasn’t had fresh veggies (except for cabbage and carrots) for over 3 weeks, it was really exciting to eat land food.
In the morning, we took our luggage through customs and then to our hotels. For me, this was the last time I would be anywhere near our beloved Nathaniel B. Palmer.
While all of the students and researchers returned to pack up their samples, I escaped for a long, windy walk through town. The weather was beautiful and it was exhilarating to just walk and walk and walk in a straight line. There are only so many new things to see on a boat and Punta Arenas had lots of colorful houses and neighborhoods to visit.
After the Cruise Party that night, a big group of us flew out on Saturday. We flew right over Patagonia and since I had a window seat, I was able to see some gorgeous views of the mountainous scenery.
We all flew into Dallas together and it was sad to start saying goodbye to so many new friends. I already have plans to see a lot of them and I feel so blessed to have gotten to know so many incredible people. I know that our paths will cross again.
On the other hand, it feels great to be home eating fresh veggies and hummus. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of space that even my tiny San Francisco apartment has compared to room on the boat. I will enjoy sprawling out in my queen-sized bed tonight. Also, because I am insane, tomorrow I am going to go back to work.
I want to give a big shout out and thank you to all of the friends and especially family members of people on the boat who have been following along. Thanks especially to Kara’s mom, Amy’s husband, Dave’s parents, Pavica’s sister, and Ilona’s numerous relatives. Your loved ones told me you were reading along and that kept me motivated to keep writing. Thanks to everyone who has followed along and kindly ignored the errors that inevitably came from writing too late at night. If you want to leave any final messages for the researchers or myself, click on “Ask the Team” and post a message. Although the trip has come to an end, feel free to check back over the coming week. I have some final photos and videos I'm planning on putting up once I have a moment to spare.