Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ice Ice Baby

Prepping for my trip to Antarctica was an adventure. I'm going in the Antarctic summer where the temperatures range from a  tropical -40 (at the South Pole... Without wind chill) to 10. Definitely going to be breaking out the bikini. Apparently sunburn is actually a big problem because the sun is so bright reflecting off the snow. Luckily the only thing that can get burned is your nose because nothing else is exposed. (I'm not sure "luckily" is really the word I'm going for there...)

The week before I left, I went on a massive shopping trip to REI armed with a long shopping list from the tour company full of items I didn't understand. I now know all about Smart Wool which according to the REI rep is basically the most exciting thing ever because it can go in the dryer. I'd be more excited if there were any dryers in Antarctica. The other thing that will not be widely available in Antarctica... Toilets. Thus the "pee bottle" on the shopping list. The list recommended that you label yours clearly. That's advice I'll be taking. The list also recommended a "pee funnel" for women. The REI rep had never heard of that and proceeded to ask pretty much everyone working there. At least that wasn't horrifying.

I've gotten a variety of reactions from friends and family about this trip. "Seriously, why are you going?" ( Ive got to check the seventh continent off the list!) "Take some pictures of the white foxes." (That's the Arctic, not Antarctic) "Are there going to be baby emperor penguins?" (YES! 2 weeks old!) "Watch out for polar bears." (Also the Arctic, but thanks for your concern). And most often "stay warm!" (Probably not going to happen but it is a nice thought.)

I'm currently in Punta Arenas, Chile waiting for good flight conditions so that we can fly the five hours to Union Glacier base camp. The "runway" there is just a flat icy area of the glacier so if the weather is overcast, there is not enough contrast to land. Would this be a bad time to try out Xanax? The last group took off six days behind schedule waiting for good conditions. Maybe I should take that time to find religion, just in case. I'll be staying in tents the entire time, since permanent structures are not permitted for tourists. We'll fly by twin otter plane 4 hours to the emperor penguin rookery. The penguins are not afraid of humans and will wander right up to you. If one wanders into my carryon bag, who am I to stop it from coming home with me? The group will spend three days with the penguins. Then, we'll fly back through base camp and then fly another five hours to the South Pole. The guide says it'll be the coldest we'll ever be in our lives. It's hard to imagine worse than Chicago and Boston. Then we'll check out the American science center there.

There's no wifi or phone service (other than iridium satellite phones) so I will be radio silent once I leave. I'll post lots of pictures once I return!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Vive La France

I love France. I love their champagne and I love Paris. Like most Americans, however, I definitely chuckled when the Simpsons referred to the French as "cheese eating surrender monkeys." I enjoy jokes about the French battle flag being a white cross on a white background. I didn't expect the French to join in on the joke by showing up to the Olympics wearing chicken hats.

At all the venues, I've seen French fans wearing chicken hats like that one. Apparently it is supposed to be a french cockerel, the national symbol of France. I'm sticking with chicken hat.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympic Update

There have been a lot of pretty amazing moments at the Olympics so far, but here are my top 5 favorite things.

5. The crazy fans. The archery finals had fans dressed as Robin Hood. The Brazilians wear crazy green and yellow wigs. The French wear chicken hats. (Not even fun to make fun of... too easy.) Plus the American fans are pretty star spangled.

4. Volleyball. The beach volleyball is basically one big party complete with a dance squad. The beach volleyball is being played in a temporary stadium set up in central London a block from 10 Downing Street. Poor David Cameron must not be getting any sleep as volleyball fans are screaming "Ole!" until past midnight every night.

The indoor volleyball is also fantastic. We got to meet some of the players, including setter Don Suxho. It made me feel pretty tall.

3. The 100m men's final- Usain Bolt... fastest man in the world. This was right before the race.

2. Gabby Douglass winning the gymnastics all around final. She's 16 and moved to Iowa to train when she was 14. Iowa. That's dedication.

1. Michael Phelps. Watching him swim in Beijing and again in London has been incredible. I saw every one of his races in London and got teary eyed after his last gold. It's the end of an era but it sure has been fun.

Opening Ceremonies

We've been having so much fun that I haven't had any time to blog, so here's the update. We arrived at Opening Ceremonies at 7pm as the tickets indicated that it started at 7:30pm. We were so excited!

When we took our seats, there was an agrarian scene with cows, horses, and sheep. Volunteers were walking around giant balloon clouds.

Opening ceremonies then proceeded to start an hour and a half late. By the time it was about to start, apparently some PETA type people were concerned that the animals had been kept out too long, so the majority of them were removed from the stage. 

I'm going to have to rewatch the opening ceremonies when I get home, since a lot of it was pretty confusing from the audience. For example, why was Voldemort battling Mary Poppins?

What was going on with all of those people dancing around that house? Does anyone actually like the NHS? That said, Paul McCartney singing Hey Jude, the James Bond/ Queen Elizabeth video, and David Beckham looking mostly perfect in a suit with the Olympic torch made up for all of rest. And of course the fireworks were glorious.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Meet Wenlock

After Beijing's Pikachu type mascots, I was curious to see what London would pick. I wasn't expecting a cartoon cyclops. Meet Wenlock.

Wenlock is intended to "connect young people with the power of the Games" and "inspire them to choose sport." I imagine at the very least Wenlock will inspire children to run away in fear while Wenlock records them.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

London Olympics

I'm in London for the 2012 Olympics and opening ceremonies are tonight! I could not be more excited. I feel for London. Beijing is a hard act to follow. After all, China had:

                                              Creepy prancing sex offender mascots

                                  A jumbotron that regularly suggested we all do the "Mexican wave"

                                                            Fabulous photo ops

                                            And cheerleaders whose uniforms said "BJAY"

Like I said, hard act to follow. I can't wait to see what London has in store for us!