It may come as no surprise to visitors to this website that I have done a bit of traveling. It started when I was a kid. My stepdad was in the Coast Guard, so we moved every two or three years. When I was in my sophomore year of college, I finagled my way onto an oceanographic expedition to Central and South America with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. That was my first time out of the country, and it whetted my appetite for more. I took a job as a tuna/porpoise observer for the National Marine Fisheries Service, which got me to sea again, which I loved, and it got me back to Central America. Then I went to Antarctica numerous times, which allowed me to explore the South Pacific, one of my favorite places on Earth.
Almost every place I’ve been has something about it that’s special and that I miss by not being there. However, I can name a few standouts. Antarctica, of course, rates high on the list. It’s a place of both stunning beauty and brutal, deadly weather. One of the things I most love about it, besides all the wonderful people I’ve met there (many of whom have become lifelong friends), is the feeling one has of being in a wild and untamed wilderness, a true frontier. I have gone where few went before me, walked on earth never before touched by a human. When diving under the ice in McMurdo Sound or along the Victoria Land coast (the best diving in the world, in my opinion), I saw things no human had ever seen before me and may not have seen since. At those times, I felt like a true explorer.
Bird Island, near South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic, is a place of pure magic. Where else can you walk within arm’s reach of the largest flying birds on the planet (albatrosses), stroll among penguins, or sit surrounded by pup fur seals? The island is covered with life, all of it naïve (that is, unafraid of humans). I stood next to a South Georgia pipit’s nest as the parents came and went, assiduously feeding their four hungry chicks. Often one of them would land on my foot and look up at me with curiosity just before slipping into the nest with an insect destined for a gaping mouth.
Almost anywhere in the South Pacific is a favorite: Isle des Pins in New Caledonia, New Zealand, Australia, Bora Bora, Bali, Aitutaki, Rarotonga, Hawaii. Closer to home, I love Powerhouse Park at 15th Street in Del Mar, California.
The articles I’ll post here will tell of some of my adventures in these places and others.