BURBANK, CA -- More than twelve thousand words of blog posts from my Antarctica trip later, and I have realized a few things. Antarctica is a land of extremes. It is one that goes beyond superlatives - frankly, you run out very quickly. Some of the extremes are obvious. Antarctica is the southernmost continent. It is the coldest. It is the only uninhabited continent in the world. Others are equally obvious, but not thought about as frequently. Antarctica is the driest continent in the world - despite the snow we had on our trip, as a continent, it is an enormous desert. Antarctica is the only continent that has been completely war and conflict-free. It is the largest biologically preserved area in the world, covering a full ten percent of the planet, yet perhaps ironically, there is less life in Antarctica than anywhere else. The largest supply of fresh water in the world exists in the ice of Antarctica. Simply put, Antarctica is the most unique place I have ever visited, and it is a land where time stands still.
For a selection of about 400 of the more than 8,000 photos I took, see album one and album two. Log into facebook and leave a comment, or 'like' away. :)
Before I traveled to Antarctica, I talked to a very small number of friends who had already been there. Their opinions were all the same - for all of the traveling they had done, Antarctica was the most incredible place they had ever visited, it was worth every penny, and they would go again without any hesitation whatsoever.
Well, having now been there myself, I can confirm all of the above and more. I went to Antarctica with absurdly high expectations. With only the Grand Canyon as an accurate (though totally different) comparison, it blew those high expectations out of the water.
Put another way, I originally thought to myself that while yes, it would be a very expensive trip - by far the most expensive I had ever been on, it was my one shot to get to Antarctica, and I needed to do it to get there and check it off the list. Having been there, I can tell you that not only was it worth every penny, but it was so majestic and wholly encompassing that I will go again - for longer, further south, in a different season, to see different ice, and different species of penguins. Maybe not for awhile, but I will undoubtedly be back.
So... now what? How do you top Antarctica? I've been mulling over this for the past month or so, and I guess I have yet to come up with an answer. For now, I don't think you do. Instead, you continue to fulfill your other goals, and lucky for me, I have one that is right at the top of that list: getting to all 50 states. I am currently stuck on 46, so I have four more to go: Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. I have, however, intentionally gone after the single outliers over the past few years: North Dakota, Oregon, Alaska, etc. As such, these four that remain are all doable in a single trip, and that is the next big one on my list. As of now, the goal is to get there sometime in April, before my 25th birthday on April 21st.
What else have I been up to the past month? The day after I got back, my parents drove into town and my brother flew in, so I got to play host for a few weeks. My parents left after a few days, though we did get a lovely trip to Santa Barbara as well as a day in Santa Monica in there. Shortly after they left, a UW friend flew in for New Years (Happy 2012 everybody!) and the Rose Bowl. Had a great weekend and a fun time at the game, but that is where we'll leave it. Losing twice in a row stinks, but it's even worse when both times you are within one score of winning. Oh well... I'll give them one more shot. :)
Last weekend I was in Las Vegas, which was a lot of fun. We had a mini-Antarctica group reunion, which was nice, and I got to speak again for People to People, which I always enjoy doing. I am actually excited for some more upcoming speaking opportunities in the near future. Check out this feature they did in their blog of me, it is very nice!
This week has been busy with work, but busy is a good thing! We Heart It is breaking records left and right. Check out the new page layout and features here!
I have also been really busy with running. The Surf City Half Marathon is coming up in two weeks and two days, which is right around the corner! I have been training like a madman, running 4-5 days per week. I have run 47.2 miles so far in January, and it is only the 20th! Since I started training and recreational running in August 2010, there has only been one month better than this one so far, when I ran 59.3 miles in April 2011. Tomorrow I run 11 miles though, and Sunday another 3-5, so I should top it for my best month ever by the end of this weekend, if all goes according to plan. I have also simultaneously been utilizing My Fitness Pal, which rigorously tracks calorie, carb, fat, and protein consumption of absolutely everything I eat or drink. Using that combined with my running software (Garmin for the Forerunner 410 and Runkeeper overall), I am able to stay on a very specific plan that has me losing weight for the past four weeks now. So far I am down about seven pounds, and I'd like to lose another two in the next two weeks before the race, and maybe another four or five after that. So far so good!
In sports, the Australian Open is currently ongoing in Melbourne. Having been to Wimbledon and the US Open, it is a big goal of mine to get to Melbourne in a future year during the last two weeks of January for the tournament, as well as to Roland Garros in Paris for the French Open in May. It is great having some good tennis on during the background, and it is also nice living on the west coast - I can watch half the matches live and it isn't some absurd hour, which contrasts greatly from the days of living in Madison when I would be intentionally writing essays at 3am so that I could watch Federer smoke some unworthy opponent. Speaking of Roger, he is in action tomorrow night against Bernard Tomic, the Australian #1 and a huge home crowd favorite. Should be an interesting fourth-round match!
On the always important hockey front, my Chicago Blackhawks won yet again tonight, and are again leading the entire NHL in the current standings. So far they look poised to have another great postseason, but one foot in front of the other - I will keep the hockey posts tuned down and slowly ramp them up as we get closer to April and May.
Finally, since I have historically mentioned it in the update blogs wherever I am, I do have to say that January in Burbank is quite nice in the weather department. It was in the upper-60s today, and I haven't seen a cloud in days. That said, we are supposed to get some rain tomorrow, but after that it's looking like it may get up to 80 this week, with plenty of sun. Quite the contrast from the -8 wind chill at home last night, nevermind the half foot of snow they got today. :)
Until next time, have a great weekend everybody, and thanks for reading the blog. In the past month, my page views have doubled. My youtube videos have been seen nearly 20,000 times now. Thanks for your comments and for sharing - I hope you enjoy it!