The big journey is over. It's been ten days at sea now, and we've dropped anchor at Signy Harbour on the South Orkney Islands. I've always wanted to go to the Orkneys ever since getting to England - family roots there, and all that - but I had no idea that I'd hit the southern ones first. Didn't even know they existed, then.
Not that we're staying long. It's a day at Signy, packing up the base, then continuing onto the Falklands. But that's not far away.
In the meantime! I have been fully institutionalized onto the Shackleton. Hopefully, this is the closest I'll ever get to a prison stint - nothing to do, limited mobility, not much to see.
It was nice to relax, at first, but now I just have the urge to jump off the ship and run up that mountain in the picture, flailing my arms and screaming incoherently.
Actually, it hasn't been that bad. But I can boil down my existence in the last 10 days to four pictures.
1. My cabin. Shared with Lance and Bryan. A good choice of cabin-mates - we're all quiet people. My bed is on the left. We have our own toilet and shower, which has been a nice luxury.
2. The "social" room. Scrabble, movies, and crosswords dominate this area. It's adjacent to the smoking room, which is slightly unpleasant if you're feeling marginal and you catch a nasty waft.
3. The mess hall. This is a wonderful room, because the food on the Shack is very, very good. We had some freshly caught tuna the other night, that easily qualifies as the best cooked fish I've ever had. I would have given anything to get it in sushi form.
4. The cargo hold. I come in here every day at 4:30 pm for circuit training. This is two hours of running around that container in the middle, and doing weights, etc. at several stations. It's been an institution religiously adhered to by the doctor and captain for the last couple years; and if it wasn't for this daily exercise, I'd be "Ryan the Hutt" by the time I left the ship. As it is, I'm barely keeping up to my food intake.
But now, I'm itching to get ashore to Signy. I'm on "heavy lifting" duty, for things that will be brought aboard as they shut down the little base for the winter. I can see hundreds of penguins onshore from here, with binoculars - hopefully there'll be a chance to get a bit closer tomorrow.
And now, I shall go to the social room and see how the Scrabble is coming on.