day 1 (Oslo)
day 2 (Svalbard)
day 3 (Spitsbergen)
day 4 (Walrus)
day 5 (Fann Kapshaw)
day 6 (Polar Bears)
day 7 (More Bears!)
day 8 (Glaciers)
day 9 (Settlements)
day 10 (Going home)

Midday, all day, and we're all a little squirrely

I think we're finally slowing down (well, I stopped taking notes sometime around Thursday afternoon!) Everyone naps in the afternoon, and we're getting used to being woken up at 3am to go out and see bears or other wildlife. I think we can get up, get dressed, and be on deck with cameras in hand in about three minutes.

LIke I said, not a "normal" cruise. While they try to offer at least two different options for each morning or afternoon excursion,but the options are "walk or paddle" in most cases, and other than a small library on board and a few games on the upper deck, you're on your own. I rather like it, actually.

We're still seeing bears, although as we work our way south again we're seeing fewer of them, and from further away. We haven't seen any narwhals yet (and I'm getting pretty anxious). C'mon! If we don't atually find any, they're going to have to find a seal and glue a broomstick to it to appease us. No orca, either, despite the dire warnings in the kayaks.

We are back to the walkable islands, so we're suited up again to walk into the low hills in search of caribou and birds. THe island out here are tecnically not inhabited -- but there are outposts on many islands for researchers or (at least earlier) military posts. THey do a lot of internaitional climate testing here, and the remains of many of these small camps are all over. Today, we saw actual wooden buildings (including a sauna, those norwegians don't mess around!) for a weather research station. No one is there now, but the buildings are interesting -- gray, weathered wood, every door and window has latches and bars to keep it from rattling or opening in the howling wind. I can't imagine spending a winter out here.

  • One of the groups hiking along the low hills.
  • One of the sturdy buildings in the research station
  • Mark and his dad -- peas in a pod
  • Me, enjoying being alone on deck
  • Our route around the islands
  • Rocky cliffs and more birds, as we circle back south
  • And this was one of the smaller lenses. We are so inadequate.
  • Mother and two cubs, trekking across the ice
  • Where's the bear? He sat there for almost two hours, at a seal hole