We cruised the Arctic on a ship named the Polar Pioneer. Whenever we got off the ship, we walked down the steep stairs here and took the small rubber boats (zodiac) to shore.


On our first day in Greenland, we visited an area called Romer's Fjord that has hot springs bubbling up out of the ground. The abundant water causes the tundra to spring to life; Angela called it, "The Garden of Eden."

That first zodiac trip in Romer's Fjord showed us our only polar bear and our best view of seals. The polar bear was a LONG ways away, and I didn't get a good picture of it, so the website will have to make do with this nice picture of Bearded Seals sunning themselves on an iceberg.


The next day we continued to do excursions around Scoresbysund. Here's a nice picture of our ship with a healthy sized iceberg behind it.


In a zodiac cruise around the fjord we saw a number of wild icebergs, many the size of buildings or football stadiums. This one is more the size of a house, but I include it here because it looks like a blueberry snow cone. The dark blue lines are the result of parts of the glacier that melted, then refroze, producing pure ice.


The next day we took a hike in Eskimo Bay. Some of the hikes on this cruise were rather epic, especially those lead by Howard; this was one of those hikes, steep and (seemingly) long. On today's hike, I got this picture of a Musk Ox. We saw a lot of Musk Ox on the trip, but this was the best picture of the bunch. These molting Musk Oxen look like walking shag carpets.


That night, on a beautiful evening, we had a BBQ on the back deck of the ship. It featured funny hats for all and warm wine punch.


The next day, still in Scoresbysund, we had an exciting day. First, in the morning, we took a short hike around Red Fjord. The photo journal of that day will start with this delicate purple flower and the backdrop of tundra with its autumn colors.


The highlight of the morning was seeing this "Stone Kayak" on a hillside. We saw a number of graves and settlements of the Thule people in this part of East Greenland, but this is a unique monument (as far as our on-board historian knew, anyhow). It took a great deal of effort to build this monument, and it's unclear why. It is a significant amount of effort for a group of people who have to spend all their time and energy just to survive, so it seems like it must be something important.


This group from our ship was walking back to the zodiacs along the far side of a small pond. I liked the way their bright gortex jackets reflected off the pond, so took this picture; I think the reflections look like crayons in a box.


That afternoon we did a zodiac tour of icebergs choked in a narrow channel next to Red Island. Here are the kayakers from our ship, paddling past a handsome berg. The kayakers were great to have about, because they added a nice dose of color to so many iceberg pictures.


Here are a few cruisers standing on a headland of Red Island. The large bergs all around looked just fantastic. While we were standing up there, we heard a loud CRACK and a berg about the size of the one in midframe in this picture had a large chunk fall off and the rest of the berg rolled most of the way over. It was great - especially since we weren't in a small boat next to it at the time.


Angela and I on Red Island.


These young Glaucous Gulls stand on their nest on a point of rock of Red Island.


Red Island is a geologists dream. This intrusion runs all along one side, forming a natural bridge at this point. Excellent.


The sun was bright enough, it acted more or less like an x-ray for this gull's wings as it flew overhead.


The light that evening (this picture was taken about 10 or 11 p.m. local time) was beautifully honey-toned. This isn't a particularly pretty set of rocks, I suspect, but the light made them look like they were designed by Tiffany and Co. 


This was our only visit to "civilzation" while in East Greenland. The villiage of Ittoqqortoormiit sits at the mouth of Scoresbysund, and is a full community: school, church, store, museum, and weather station. There are cars and heavy machinery in town, but most people get around on ATVs.


The weather station invited us to come watch them release their 11 a.m. weather balloon. It was great to watch this gentleman attach the sensor to the balloon with industrial-strength twist ties after filling the balloon with hydrogen, and when he let it go it rocketed skyward impressively quickly.


Another beautiful Greenlandic sunset...


Now, we started exploring Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, further to the north in Greenland. We landed at a spot called Ella Island, where this cabin has seen better days.


This is Michael, a journalist from England. I told him he's making use of the word "fjord" as both a noun and a verb, at the same time (though it is hard to see the Kaiser Franz Joseph Fjord in the background).


Here is Angela, looking out across the fjord.


That evening, Angela saw this "sundog" or "light pillar" to the right of the sun. It is hard to see in this picture; it is like a rainbow running almost vertically in the center of the frame. we saw this one other time while in the Arctic, but I never managed to get a very clear picture of the phenomena...


The next day was a beautiful, bright day in the Kaiser Franz Joseph Fjord. We were quite close to the face of the main glacier in the fjord, and cruised around in zodiacs. The night before was cold enough that the small pieces of ice froze together, which made getting around the water more of a challenge. Here are a number of pictures of ice, water, mountains and their reflections.






This picture looks like the back of the zodiac is being swamped by the fjord, but that is just an optical illusion.


This picture of the strata of rocks is just beautiful.

Our last day in Greenland! We spent the morning in Kap Humboldt and took another long hike. Here are two great folks (Andrew and Liz) posing for a picture. Andrew, a film maker, is (of course) directing the picture taking remotely, and I decided to poach my own picture at the same time.


Here's my favorite of picture of an Arctic Hare. I think he looks like Harry Potter; check out the markings in its ear.


Angela was on a zodiac that took a crusie around the Kap (Cape) and saw more intrusions of rock.


It took us two-and-a half days to cross from Greenland to Svalsbard. In hope of seeing polar bears, we sailed north to get into the pack ice (frozen salt water). This brought us beyond 80 degrees north (see the photo of the navigation screen, above). Angela stayed up until 3:30 a.m. to get this picture and the one below.




This is an interesting picture, because it shows an iceberg (the blue ice in the center), which is fresh water, surrounded by pack ice (frozen sea water).

The pack ice makes a nice backdrop for this gull's morning soaring.

Alas, we found no polar bears. As a consolation, the evening brought a trip to an island with a sandy beach and about three dozen walruses. Most were half asleep in a big pile of walrus flesh. Here are several walruses dozing together.

Here is Kyle getting ready to take many more walrus pictures.


This is a nice walrus portrait. The big guys seem to just love getting their picture taken.


We also saw a number of Arctic Terns flying around. I captured this one as it ducked its head into the cold, reflective water to try to find dinner.

This Tern felt one of our passengers was just too close to its nest. This person's a really nice guy and felt embarassed about disturbing the Tern, so I won't identify him here. Don't worry, mate, these things happen...


We then had one more beautiful day of zipping around a glacier front in a zodiac. The water was again still and beautifully reflective.


Here's a nice chunk of ice floating far in front of the face of the glacier.


Right before lunch, the tradition of the Polar Plunge was enacted. Though Kyle and Angela declined the invitation to plunge, we did take some nice pictures. I like this one for two reasons: 1) This gentleman is a doctor, making me wonder if jumping into nearly freezing water is a healthy thing to do, and 2) He looks so happy, either because he jumped in the water or because he is very soon to get back out of it.


That afternoon we took a walk around a failed quarry called New London. We saw three reindeer hanging out, including this good looking dude.


And now, Svalsbard. Svalsbard's main city, Longyearbyen, is famous for this sign, warning that you are leaving the area where the city police protect all from polar bears. If you venture beyond this point, you need to bring your own rifle with you (and be ready to shoot in self-defense).

 
The city of Longyearbyen is a coal-mining town, though somewhat past its prime. The apartment buildings are modern and bright, the hot and cold water is sent around town from a central location. Angela stands on a bridge that goes over the water and sewer pipes.