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Best laid plans, my crazy boyfriend and gratitude

I knew it would happen sooner or later.  I just hadn’t expected that it would be so soon.

Three weeks ago, Laurent went back to France.  He spent almost a month here in New York and we diligently planned the trip and finished up this very website.  We came up with a decent route for our trip, as documented in our last post.   At the time, it made perfect sense.  It was a concise route.  It included all the things we wanted to see and at the right times of year.  I thought this route to be pretty definitive. I knew it might change somewhat over the course of time but I didn’t think that course of time would come anytime soon.

But no.  Good ‘ol best laid plans came into play.  I don’t know what we were thinking coming up with a plan so early on in the game.  It was crazy.  Totally illogical.  Nonsensical even! It was only inevitable that this plan and route was destined to do anything but not stay the same.  It will undulate and move with us as we move and decide where we want to go.

The idea of leaving in June has officially been tossed in the trash.  The new time of departure is bumped up til September for numerous reasons that I won’t bore you with.  The route has been changed but I won’t bore you with those details either.  You will see them unfold over time.  And besides, if I told you now, it would probably change next week.  Instead I will bore you with a word about surprises.

From time to time, Laurent surprises me.  When he does tell me he has a surprise for me, he really means it.   Laurent is a passive guy, pretty even-keeled about things most of the time.   But when he wants to surprise, he does it in a big way.   Past surprises have included a trip to Hawaii, surprise visits to NY, trips to beautiful country villages in France.  So expectations were high.  I got really excited!

I couldn’t contain my smile as we sat there on Skype (our primary means of communication when we are apart).

“So, what’s the surprise?” I kept asking, as my mind wandered to surprise trips for Valentine’s Day, maybe he was going to treat me to Iceland this year…it could have been anything!  My mind raced with anticipation.

Well, it was something alright.

“Remember the boat I show you, the sailboat to Antarctica?” he says grinning.

I have to think about this.  I vaguely remember him sending me a link during a previous skype conversation we had about Antarctica.  When I clicked it, it showed me this old school type of sailboat with all icebergs in the background.

“Hmmm….I think I remember….why?”  I aksed a bit frustrated.  What the heck did this have to do with the surprise???

“Well, I decide that I will pay the difference and we go by sailboat to Antarctica”.

For a brief (and very rare) moment, silence overcame me.

This is the surprise!?!  Are you for real?!  These are the initial thoughts that followed that silence.  So I spoke them aloud.  Laurent was taken aback.  “It is a good surprise” he tried to reassure me.  “No” I insisted.  It’s a suicide mission.

Laurent & I have an ongoing joke.  On the surface, as I mentioned earlier, he really is a quiet and very mild mannered guy.  One of the best adjectives I can think of to describe Laurent is unassuming.  However, over the course of the 3 years that I’ve known him, sometimes he breaks out of  his usual calm ways.  Most of the time, it comes unannounced.  Like a thief in the night, my calm, mild mannered, normally reserved boyfriend becomes (in an instant) my “crazy boyfriend.”

I used to dub him this title at these times and he has certainly earned this reputation over the years.  Like the time he decided to take our rented jeep up crazy sand dunes in Hawaii or when he decided he wouldn’t change any of the tires for his rusty old Jeep when we drove the dempster highway up through the arctic circle or when he decided we would camp among grizzly bears with our soft top Jeep (full of food) just steps away from our tent.  He comes up with these ideas out of nowhere!  Granted, in retrospect, all those times proved to be fun times, but a bit crazy too.

This is the worst instance of all though.  And the worst part is, there is no talking any sense into him.  He stumbled upon the Bark Europa one day and now there is no turning him back.   After my intial freak-out, I tried to like the idea.  But it’s just too much!  When you go to Antarctica you have to sail through the notorious (and for damn good reason) Drake Passage.  I’m scared of the water.  I’m not a good swimmer.  I’ve gotten scared in rowboats for crissakes! And this is a regular occurrence while sailing the Drake.  This is quickly becoming my new obsession.  Googling youtube videos of Drake crossings.  Just like before we went camping in the Yukon/Alaska, I read story after story of grizzly bear maulings.  I sit in front of the computer, gripped with fear yet transfixed.  Ok, so maybe I can be crazy too.

And it’s not like I’m not an adventurous person.  I’ve had more than my fair share of adventures.  Not like I’m some hardcore buff either but I like a little thrill every now and again.  Going to Antarctica IS an adventure!  That’s adventure enough for me.

And the Bark Europa may look romantic from the outside but I assure you people, after my extensive research, there is nothing romantic about this boat.  The “cabins” hold up to 6 people, so I will have to share this already small space with 4 strangers who may have habits that I cannot bear.  Especially while being seasick and sharing  said small space with them for 22 days!!  Yes, you read right.  22 days on this sailboat!!  With waves churning from the angry sea constantly piling in.

And if that is not enough, you have to help out on board.  Not that I mind learning about sailing or doing my share of work.  But when you are paying close to $7,000 and you are sick as a dog for possibly up to 5 days straight (the amount of time it could take to cross the Drake) and now it’s your turn to go out and watch for icebergs…I think I’ll pass on helping out.  Everyone takes “shifts” (including night shifts) to go watch the waters for icebergs!  And yes, you are paying to do this.  No thanks!!!

There are wonderful small boats that voyage to Antarctica.  Like Quark expeditions, varied yet beautiful fleet of boats where you can actually be comfortable and feel somewhat safer.  The website invites you to explore Antarctica in style.  Ok!  Sign me up!  There’s even one with a hot tub on deck!  That’s how I want to go down the Drake.  Cocktail in hand, icebergs in view, all from the comfort of a hot tub.

But there is no talking to Laurent.  He’s got these visions of grandeur. Like he is channeling the spirit of the initial explorers.  You are not a viking, I flatly tell him.  It will be so romantic, he tells me.  We have to earn our trip to Antarctica, he says righteously as only a french man can.  He doesn’t want us to be lazy, he tries to reason.  I disagree with all these points.  I’m sure he’s crazy, I decide.

So I told him I am going to make a blog post about it and plead to you, my dear (few) readers.  What do y’all think??  Who is the crazy one here?!  Has Laurent really lost it this time or am I the one being a party pooper.  A lazy person with no sense of adventure or, dare I say it, am I being a girl??  I’m not sure.  So please vote and help us out!!

And one last word.  I don’t want to end the post all whiny and full of complaints.  Instead, lets end this on a little word about gratitude. I’m grateful to even be arguing with my crazy boyfriend about our Antarctica plans.  This used to be just a pipe dream and now we are in the process of realizing that dream and I’m beyond grateful to even have the opportunity to make this trip and to do it together.

But gratitude aside, I still think this sailing nonsense  is a crazy idea.  I know I’m being a bit wimpy but I have a good point.  Don’t I?  So please vote and let us know what you think!

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Chantz #

    Great post!
    I did struggle with the voting. I don’t think that this boat idea is that much more Krazy than other things you have done. However, if you will feel uncomfortable then maybe it is not the best idea. With that said, you have been known to emphatically rant about how much you loath cushy travel and how you would much prefer to get into the nitty-gritty of it all….or something like that.
    Like when I told you we were thinking of taking a cruise to Alaska and how I wanted to sit on the boats balcony and sip wine while watching the icebergs and polar animals pass…you wrinkled up your face and thoroughly expressed your dislike for such travel…..
    Also, you wrote about your concern that you will have to share your space with 4 other strangers….umm…Jo…you met your boyfriend couch surfing…not to mention all the strangers you have hosted at your house with my favorite being the Hari Krishna!
    I think your crazy boyfriend picked this boat idea out with you in mind.
    Not saying you should do it.
    Not saying it is not Krazy.
    Just perplexed why this idea would be considered so different than some of your others….and no I haven’t yet looked at the links you posted…I’m suppose to be doing paperwork!

    February 13, 2012
  2. superhorsefeathers #

    Thanks Chantz for your feedback!!

    And you know what? You made incredibly valid points. Enough to make me retreat in my initial freak out…until I thought of one thing.

    It’s that damn Drake passage. I’m so frightened by it! There is no way around going through it. I really am scared of the water, even though I repeatedly do things to try to challenge that fear. The challenge is very great this time (for me) but I’m certain the reward of Antarctica is worth it. And I’m sure the youtube videos of the Drake are not helping. At all.

    Cheers for remembering my thoughts on a cruise ship to Alaska. I still staunchly take that stance. However, going to Antarctica is a different story. When you cruise to Alaska, you are missing so many of the sights that Alaska has to offer. You can easily organise your own trip to Alaska. By just making stops with the masses (and I mean masses!!) you aren’t really getting a taste for what Alaska has to offer. Only in a superficial way.

    Travel to Antarctica is a bit different. Because of it’s remoteness and all the rules and regulations surrounding travel there (for protection of the environment and the animals)…’s really not possible to organise your own trip. You have to make a booking with an experienced and licensed (and preferably reputable) company. The boats are relatively small, compared with cruise ships as we know them (like the kind that go to Alaska) I think Quark’s biggest one holds 177 passengers. The Bark Europa (aka the sailboat) holds 46. But Quark also offers a nice boat that holds 68. I don’t want to go in a big boat. But there really aren’t any anyway.

    Quark offers some icebreaker type boats though and I’d feel so much more secure, crossing the Drake in an icebreaker. Or at least a boat where the water level isn’t at your ankles. To avoid icebergs on the Bark Europa, all 46 passengers are required to take turns (even on night shifts) to be the ‘lookout’ for icebergs! That’s a bit much. Especially if there are huge 30 foot waves crashing over the main deck. And if I’m (very likely) seasick to boot.

    Since going to Antarctica is not a typical cruise experience and basically, as long as the boat holds less than 100 people, all the landings on the actual continent are the exact same whether we take the sailboat or a Quark boat, or any other company, I might as well enjoy a cocktail and watch the icebergs float by. I get your point but it’s totally different.

    All that being said, you still made me think again. If it wasn’t for the Drake, I’d be in. I’m just so scared of crossing the Drake in a flimsy sailboat! I want a tank! If I can get over my fear a bit, I think I’d really embrace this idea. It sure is a gritty way to go to Antarctica. Although I truly feel just GOING to Antarctica is an expedition!

    And sharing a cramped cabin while being seasick for 22 days with strangers is a far cry from couchsurfing! Just sayin.

    Now I need to stop watching youtube videos. Thanks for the food for thought. Deep down, I know you are right.

    And why are you ALWAYS doing paperwork! Hope reading this response wasn’t too much of a distraction!!

    February 13, 2012
  3. jpap #


    February 14, 2012
  4. I guess it depends what kind of frightened you are of it. The good kind that helps you push yourself to try new things or the bad kind that makes you miserable.

    My thought it that these kinds of things are always neat to try and it’d make for a good story but that it is a long time investment to be uncomfortable. If you don’t think it’ll make you a better person somehow…then don’t do it.

    February 16, 2012
    • superhorsefeathers #

      Hmmm…that’s a very good point. You are causing me to rethink this. I think I would ultimately be teetering in between both of those things-trying something new but possibly miserable!

      Well, I do think it would make me a better person and I like pushing my fear. I just wish I could get some kind of guarantee from mother nature that there would be no big storm while we were sailing the Drake. In normal weather conditions, sign me up! But I doubt I could get that guarantee.

      I’m still debating….it would be an easy “no” if I didn’t feel slightly wimpy about it and I think I might even grow to regret it! Although I likely wouldn’t feel regret while I was in that other boat with my ass in a hot tub sipping a cocktail.

      Thanks for the fresh perspective though! And thanks for reading : )

      February 16, 2012

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