Saturday, November 30, 2019

Antarctica - Day 2

The flight from Houston to Buenos Aires was smooth and quiet the entire way.  Most people slept the entire night other than me and a handful of others that I could see were awake watching movies during the night.  So as smooth as the flight was, and the fact they fed us twice and both meals were tasty... I should have expected the rest of the morning to be a bit rougher.

It started off with some of the longest lines I'd ever seen at a passport control when flying into another country.  Sadly by the time I got into that line, I think I was way at the back and the slow slog began... snaking our way back and forth, feeling like I was never going to get to the front of the line.  They had it split up really strange too, and at one point, pushed a lot of us from one line into a much longer line for some unknown reason... so my long wait got even longer.  After almost an hour... with what looked like a good 45 minutes left in my line... I looked behind me and noticed that the original line I had been in, was down to about 12 people.  Quickly I rushed back and joined the end of that line and I was so glad I did.  Those customs agents were getting tired and could see that they were almost through their line.  After watching them asking people question after question for that first hour, and seeing them make people pull out their hotel info, their flight itineraries, etc....  they suddenly started blowing through people so they could get a break.  I think I was asked how long I would be here, if it was business or pleasure, they took my photo, my thumb print and sent me on  my way.  Dang.... why didn't they do that the whole time?  We could have been though there in 45 minutes instead of the 90 it took.  LOL

After that, I found my bag waiting at baggage claim,  got to the random red/green light telling me if I'd have to scan my luggage on the way out of the airport or not, and got the green light that let me bypass that last step, and was finally free to step outside ... into the 80 degree heat!

Finding a taxi was a breeze, and then I got to experience some seriously crazy traffic and driving.  I quickly learned that traffic here is so much worse than the Seattle traffic, which I honestly didn't think could be possible.  It was only noon on a Friday and the freeway was backed up and at a stand still for as far as the eye could see.  My Taxi driver did a quick search on his mapping program to find a path around the mess, and then the real fun started!   If you get nervous when someone else is driving a little crazy, you may have just had to close your eyes for the next hour and a half!   It seems lanes and stop signs are just suggestions here and suggestions that most drivers don't feel any sort of need to follow.  I don't think my driver came to a complete stop at a single stop sign, and in fact, at the 4-way stops we went through, there were times cars were coming in both directions, through the intersection with one slowing JUST enough to pass behind another ...  it was kind of scary at first... but I guess I got used to it after the first 4 "stop" signs....  and then just started to wonder how cars weren't getting t-boned in every intersection.  LOL

I did notice that almost every car on the road had big dents in them.... a lot with long deep gouges along the side of the car... where it appears they shared a lane with another car for a little bit of time.  Let's just say it made me appreciate the traffic in Seattle a little which I can't believe I just said.  :)

I finally made it to the hotel safe and sound and by now was really feeling exhausted.  I had only managed to sleep about 2 hours total in the last 24 hours so tonight is going to be a relaxing one where I try to catch up on some sleep before having to be up at 4am to get back to the airport for the final leg of the flight.   I did make the mistake of running out to look for lunch, just in time to get caught in a crazy thunderstorm that came out of nowhere!  I'll have to post videos of it after I get back home. 

If any of this makes no sense, or was just a bunch of rambling, I'll blame it on my lack of sleep! I don't know if anything will post after this entry until I get back... but maybe I can post one more day before I get on the ship and lose all contact with the world for 11 days.  :)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Antarctica - Day 1

This trip has been on the calendar for so long, that at times if felt like it would never get here, and as I would read up on Antarctica and watch videos and see photos from there, my excitement to get the trip underway would spike over and over again.... the waiting was killing me so I tried hard to put it out of my mind for months on end.  Then the day of my flight out of Seattle got down to the single digits, it almost didn't feel real anymore.

I don't think it really sunk in that it was time to go, until the night I packed my bags, which I did two days before the trip... and which is 2 days sooner than I pack for most of my trips.  I'm a last minute kind of packer when I travel.

I think I was at the airport close to 4 hours early on Thanksgiving... wanting to be absolutely sure nothing happened to make me miss that flight... not traffic, security lines, some snag while checking my bag, etc.  I have to actually admit I was nervous for the first time in a very long time about a trip.  Turns out there was nothing to be nervous about though, as I checked my bag and was through security in record time!  I think it might have seriously taken 7 minutes and 4 of those were talking from checking my bag to the security checkpoint.   Why can't flying always be that smooth?

I spent a few hours just wandering around the airport,  caught a little bit of the first Thanksgiving Day football game (but can't tell you a single thing that happened)... and then watched a movie about Apollo 11 to take my mind off things.

The flight was mostly smooth and the first leg of the trip was over.  Now it was just a matter of waiting another 4 hours to get on the flight to Buenos Aires.  I got my first taste of hanging out in the United Lounge which made the wait so much nicer... (Thanks Randy!).

Boarding for the next leg started at 9:30 pm... so I was already 12 hours into the trip, with a 10 hour flight ahead of me now.  Nothing too exciting really happened in all that downtime, so I'll just sign off for now.  It's a huge plane, not nearly as full as I feared... and so far so good!