Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Southbound Journey Begins Today

I'm happy to report I'm up past midnight finishing up my preparation for the ATA journey. My suitcase is packed and my carryon items are strewn across the guest bed. They clearly won't all fit in the case I want to take. I need that suitcase from my nightmare that was a bottomless pit.

I have a snappy green and black outfit to wear on the plane. I can't help but wonder what people are going to think of me heading into the southern hemisphere dressed for winter. I suppose they will issue us coats, gloves, and polar boots in Punta Arenas, but it seems strange (apparently not possible for me) to head to Polar Regions without a coat in hand. Such are the dilemmas of the adventurer--green hat or blue? one book or two? winter boots or dress shoes?

Thanks for all your wishes for luck and fun adventuring. I may not be online for a few days. Not sure what connectivity will be in transit.

Hugs to all,


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

None of these Birds in ATA

This has nothing to do really with Antarctica, but this bird just is not to be missed. I hope I capture some moments and funny, amazing, and enlightening as this one....

Monday, October 29, 2007

Does This Count as a Nightmare?

Well, my bed continues to amass all sorts of indispensible items for the trip south. The mattress is sagging in the middle, but the peak is a nearing a record altitutude for Colorado. Pretty soon we will have another 14'er...

Rarely does my mind even turn to what goes in the suitcase sooner than the night before departure, but this is two months! Last night I dreamed about packing and, on the bright side, the suitcase seemed to be a cousin to Mary Poppin's bottomless case. On the dark side, I just couldn't seem to get everything stuffed inside my Dimension 10 Samonsite. My palms were sweaty with the fear of not getting to the plane on time. Then I woke up.

The bed is still a mess, but I have not missed my plane.

Thank you all for the great suggestions on what to take along. The most unusual might be "ginger chews." I'll let you know how well they work on the high seas. Hmm...another strange one: vodka. Does vodka have some "anti-freeze" properties to keep the blood from turning to ice? The most unexpected: Sorel socks. They are warm!

If I'm missing anything, it's my own fault. Thank you all again for your suggestions and support.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Questions Are the Sign of Great Minds

I am getting so many great questions about the trip (not to mention super suggestions on what to take along). My favorite recommendation so far is: swimsuit.

Did you know there is an amazing lady, Lynne Cox, who swam for 30 minutes in the freezing waters of Antarctica? Does anyone know why some fish, whales, penguins, and seals can swim in those cold waters?

Questions are the one thing I can think of the brilliant people all have in common. Most of the questions will require:

1. Careful observation
2. Quiet contemplation
3. Asking more questions
4. Writing down the answers

As I discover the answers, I will record them in this blog.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What Does a Person Take to Antarctica?

Someone asked if I was packed already?

--Definitely not! That would be so un-Kate like.

However, I will concede to having placed some items on the bed in the guest room so that I can have a visual list of what I yet need to take along. So far the bed is strewn with merino wool undergarments, wrinkle-proof pants, shirts, a fleece jacket, miscellaneous pieces of paper, purple pens, anti-nausea medication, one of those wrist bracelets that is supposed to help with sea sickness, and Tootsie Pops.

Any other suggestions?

Shall we start one of those raffles like they do for football games or the birth of a new baby? Anyone want to guess what will be the first exotic creature I will see and on what day?

I'll award a signed copy of Molly Finn and the City under the Sea to the winner. Everyone else has to buy a copy on

You can post your entries to the blog, but no repeats. If repeats appear, the first post wins the prize.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ATA Itinerary

Hello Everyone,

I was asked about my itinerary and travel route, so thought I'd post a calendar. The map is from the Office of Polar Programs and, by extension, the University of Texas map archive. Texans must like maps because the original request for my logistics also came from a Texan...

In case--like me--you have vision challenges, here is the plan in plain English....

November 1 Depart Denver for Santiago, Chile
November 2 Depart Santiago for Punta Arenas
November 3 Board the Laurence M Gould
November 4 Sail from Punta Arenas to Palmer Station, Antarctica (ATA)
November 10 Arrive Palmer Station, ATA

I'll post the tentative plan for the return journey separately.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Keeping in Touch from Antarctica

Like the geese and other migratory birds, I'm heading south. Unlike geese, who head toward warmer climes, I'm going as far south as I can. Because I may have about as much access to phones as geese do, but more opportunity than our feathered friends to keep in touch via the internet, I'm preparing this blog so that friends and family can track my journey.

Comparing myself to a goose ignited a certain curiosity. Where do the geese go? Check out the Ross' Goose as well as the patterns and perils of migration.

My journey will begin (like the geese) by air. I depart from Denver on American Airlines a week from Thursday, on November 1. My all-night flight takes off from Dallas and arrives in Santiago on November 2. By evening of my second day away, I'll be in Punta Arenas, Chile. As it was originally settled as a penal colony and posting for military soldiers with "problematic" behavior, looks like I'll fit right in. The place looks astoundingly beautiful, remote, and peaceful, but popular enough to be home to 120,000 people with ancestry as diverse as Great Britain, Yugoslavia, and Spain.

From Punta Arenas, we depart for Palmer Station, Antarctica on November 4. We'll be passengers aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Research & Supply vessel, the Laurence M. Gould. I'll be posting pictures, including one of the ship, to my online photo album.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

AuthorFest of the Rockies

We just wrapped up the second annual AuthorFest of the Rockies writer's conference. In addition to the usual benefits--talking about writing with people who love talking about writing and meeting amazing and accomplished authors like Joanne Greenberg--the conference location was dreamy.

We met at the Cliff House, a restored historical building nestled into the foothills at the base of Pikes Peak. Between sessions authors, presenters, and attendees gathered on the huge wrap-around porch, sipped Rocky Mountain spring water, and talked books.

Another unusual and appealing aspect of the conference was the fact that young writers and book lovers attended the sessions. For a writer of young adult fiction, what a delight to have my readership attend the workshops. What a great way to support new writers and avid readers of all ages.

Who knew writing could lead to so many adventures? In less than two weeks, I'll be heading to Antarctica as a part of my grant sponsored by the National Science Foundation. I'll be observing and assisting scientists and gathering research for an upcoming novel in the Molly Finn series. If you want to follow this "cool" adventure, submit a question, or share your own icy adventures, click on the Antarctica tab on the Molly Finn website.

Will we find evidence of merlife on the frozen continent? I hope so!