As some of you know, I went on the TRIP OF A LIFETIME in January (and early February) 2014. The trip lasted a whole MONTH, and OH… This is an experience I wish cherish FOREVER! We visited places in CHILE, URUGUAY, and ARGENTINA (saw all 3 Temples). Our TEACHER was MICHAEL WILCOX, and those of you who have ever attended a class he’s taught can imagine what a BLESSING it was to have him teach us! We learned about Shackleton, Magellan, Drake, Darwin, Amundson, Scott, and so much, much more! We were on the cruise ship for 21 DAYS. I took 1,023 pictures (now you know where the picture of mee and Leanne in our life jackets came from; if you haven’t seen it, you’ve missed a fun “shot” — it’s in a shout out about friendship), and I kept thinking of days when I had a little “Brownie” camera and a roll of film which could take only 12 pictures….
I want to focus on ANTARCTICA for this post. It was INCREDIBLE. There are not pictures to do it justice (but you might “Google” it just to have a look around at some of the magnificent scenery). Mike called it “God’s Holy of Holies.” It was so spectacular, so quiet, pristine, unspoiled, and beyond beautiful beyond description. And the vast majority of it is untouched… as if it’s just like it was when it was first created. WOW!!
This was my last continent – I’ve now been to all 7. This is the southernmost and the 5th largest (twice the size of Australia!!). The South Pole is there (and no, we didn’t go there, but we learned MUCH about those who did). 98% of Antarctica is covered by ICE, which averages at least 1.2 miles in thickness! It is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and it has the highest average elevation of any continent. It’s considered a desert! Really! It has an annual precipitation of only 8 inches along the coast, and far less inland. The low recorded temperature was minus 129F. . It wasn’t freezing cold when we were there (it was summer in the southern hemisphere) and even if we got quite cold, we could just go back on the ship. There are no permanent human residents, but up to 5,000 might be there through the year conducting experiments at research stations (and we saw one from the ship).
This was a spiritual experience in way that I can’t quite explain (but I’m feeling emotional just writing these things down for the Blog). I got up very early one morning, put on my 7 layers, and went out to explore. I decided to climb as high on the ship as I could get. It was bitterly cold at that particular time, mostly because the wind was blowing so hard. I climbed and looked and prayed and thought and felt . . . . Honestly, I wish I could go back some day (but that is NOT in the budget….)
I want to share excerpts from what Mike Wilcox has written about Antarctica: I always knew it was there, the last continent, the end of the earth, the final destination for the exploring soul of man, and I wanted to see it, but I was not prepared for the experience. For me, visiting Antarctica was the opportunity of putting another pin on the map, of finally reaching every continent on the planet, hitting that magic number seven. But a hidden jewel awaited me. This is the most spectacular place I have ever visited in the world!…. The unexpected wonder is often the most memorable and the beauty that spread before me that first sunlit morning may have been the best day I have spent on any tour, certainly it topped my list of spectacular and untainted majesty…. Here was the whitest white nature brings forth. Here shone the purest light, one which magnifies the distance and gives everything within the range of the eyes a translucent clarity. Here the most pristine waters rose and fell in the gentle ocean swell. The light played upon the surface of the icebergs displaying blues that put the sky to shame and inviting a dozen new shades into the wheel of color…. Perhaps the Lord placed this beauty, this unchanging change, in the frozen grip of ice and frost because its perfection could not be improved…. I suppose the Creator may have made it for Himself, a place He would fill with wonder that none of His children would see until thousands of years after the morning of creation. Yet He would see it and joy in His own handiwork. And the day would come when the vital curiosity of His children would prove the last place on earth and know one of His brightest jewels….This is a land which brings the very best out of those who come to know her and to love her, a challenging landscape which in spite of the hardships compelled men to venture. For three days I stood on the deck of the ship taking it all in . . . and I could feel God’s smile in my enjoyment. So I will adjust once again my list of favorite places in the world, vistas I want my children and friends to see for the sheer joy of sharing the sense of wonder that settles over us, and in that sharing coming nearer to the soul of God.
I can’t put into words what it meant to be there, to see and feel this “beyond-words” place. I just feel so thankful I was able to be there once. I’ll remember it forever.