Palmer Station, Antarctica. About 7,000 miles from home, my first trip out of the country isn't to a country at all. Nobody owns Antarctica. "The highest, driest, coldest, windiest, and emptiest place on earth" (as quoted from my US Antarctic Participant Guide) will be my home for the next four months. Considering my current home is a cozy dome nestled in the fertile green forests of New Hampshire, I presume I'm in for a shock. One thing for certain: I won't be seeing much green over the next four months. There are no trees in Antarctica. There are no permanent residents either.
I hate leaving the Shire. Constantly surrounded by celebration- food, friends, family, booze, and fireworks- I sometimes feel like an obstinate little hobbit who wants nothing more but to stay put. I love life here in my round little castle but it doesn't take too long for the Tookish side of me to take over. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien:
Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.
I'm leaving tomorrow. I have 20 hours of flight and 5 days on a boat across one of the most dangerous spurts of ocean on earth before I reach Palmer. Good thing I'm prone to motion sickness.