Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 1: Bon Voyage (NABOS 2009)

[*Part of an ongoing series documenting the 2009 NABOS Arctic Expedition I participated approximately 1 year ago today*]

Video update from Kirkenes, Norway the day before departing:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Around 10:15 AM local time I got word from one of our chief scientists that it was time to head out to board the Icebreaker. My stomach filled with knots as I began drag my huge bag loaded with winter gear down the stairs of our hotel to our rental car. A couple of other scientists joined us and soon we were on our way to the port in town. There was no turning back now...

As we pulled up to the gate I caught my first glimpse of what would be "Home Sweet Icebreaker" for the next 3 weeks. At that point in time my stomach was suddenly filled to the brim with a swarm of butterflies... it was the moment when the chief scientist pulled away to go get other scientists and I was left alone next staring up at an 8 deck tall floating football field with all of my arctic gear in one hand and my jaw just dropped. This was it... I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime on a russian icebreaker in the Arctic Ocean.

As I struggled up the 2 foot wide metal plank to climb up 2 stories with my awkward 5 foot long gear bag I was met by a kind young russian crew member that offered some words in Russian and reached out to help me with my bag. Another moment... the dominant language spoken on this trip was going to be russian... this was a russian icebreaker... with a russian crew... and many russian scientists... I was being tossed off the deep end into the Arctic Ocean... if I ever wanted to learn about the russian culture and language this was going to be it! Excitement, Fear, and Anticipation overcame me...

Once on deck I was quickly whisked away to one of our expedition's organizers... she gave me my cabin room assignment and a crew member helped me with my gear once again. I kept thinking over and over... this isn't real... I'm dreaming!

After calming my head for a few minutes I met the gal in the cabin next to mine. Her name was Birke, she was a PhD student from Germany, and I was 100% relieved to find that she didn't know anyone either and was feeling the same things I was! We became close friends, and from that point on we were always found giggling and working together around the icebreaker.

The afternoon was busy out on deck, loading scientific instruments on board with cranes and strapping everything down for the long journey. Everyone gathered out on deck as we departed from the dock early that evening, and we took in the gorgeous views of the bird cliffs along the Norgegian fjord. This would be the last land we would be seeing for quite some time.

Later in the evening we had our first research team meeting, complete with introductions of all of the international participants. It was so neat sit in the room and hear the accents and different languages being spoken! Birke and I looked forward to the challenge of trying to pick up a little of the Russian language before the trip was over. At the conclusion of the meeting old friends reunited and shared stories and new friends were introduced.

Exhausted I collapsed in my bed that night... no need to dream... my Arctic dreams were already becoming a reality!



  1. I really enjoyed reading this and have blogged about it here:

    I've also blog rolled you. Looking forward to reading more.

  2. Thank you so very much! I'm thrilled and honored that you mentioned me in your blog!! I look forward to reading more of yours too!