May 18 - Svalbard Bound
Written sometime in September & posted on 11/18/18
Friday, May 18, dawned bright. After my epic sleep, I was not 100% over my epic headache, but I was ready for our journey to Svalbard.
First, a nod to salmon at breakfast. Amazing.
We made our way over to the airport for our flight to Longyearbyen. Waiting for our flight, I was grateful to meet some of the other passengers. I was wearing my Nat Geo Educator t-shirt as a not-so-subtle way to identify myself which invited connection and conversation throughout my adventure. I will never underestimate the privilege, opportunities, and invitation being a teacher affords.
The flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen takes 2 hours, 55 minutes to traverse 1,269 miles/ 2,042km. I'd been assigned an aisle seat, but after take-off a flight attendant gave me the OK to move to an available window seat. From there, I observed the world below.
9:31am - we crossed the Arctic Circle at 67 degrees North and 34,720 feet in the air.
9:41am - we left the land below, flying over the Norwegian Sea and the beginning of over 2 hours of flight over open water
10:16am - 72 degrees North
10:50am - 76 degrees North
Land came into view not long before we landed. The skies were grey and we could see patches and streaks of snow. The landscape was dramatically different than anything I'd ever seen. We landed a little before noon at the Svalbard Airport in Longyearbyen, the northern most commercial airport in the world.
Ready to begin this amazing exploration of Svalbard!
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As a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, I traveled to Svalbard in May 2018! Thanks to Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic for supporting teachers and encouraging us to be explorers.
Some of the text shared here was written in my journal or through social media posts while I was on expedition.
But much of the writing shared here was written in the months following my return home.
I had this idea that I would embark on my journey and, in real time, reflect and write and create blog posts and videos and online albums and photo books and postcards. I had fantasies of sitting in the ship's library with my pen and notebook, collecting and composing what I'd seen and experienced and manifesting deep, profound thoughts.
Yeah. That didn't happen.
My experience was so intense, so surreal, that I had difficulty finding adequate words to describe it all. Silly, inconsequential, and unsatisfying words were all I had - great, amazing, unbelievable, incredible. At the end of each day I would try. After dinner, somewhere between 10pm and midnight, I'd make my way up to the library to write. But I would get distracted. The large, glorious, gorgeous windows were too inviting and each moment was unique. The clouds were shifting, the water was moving, the ship was in motion, the ice upon the water was drifting. Each and every moment was unique.
My eyes were up and wide open. I was outside on the deck feeling the cold air and the lightly falling snow on my face. Or I was sitting on the bridge, snuggled in warmth, with a pair of binoculars looking looking looking. Oh, I tried to shift my thinking to writing something more than a bulleted list, but I just couldn't pull it off.
To put it simply, I couldn't focus.
I coined my condition Wonder-Induced ADD.
It is a beautiful affliction to have.
This blog is dedicated to my aunt, Tina Chavez, who is always my biggest fan and supporter. When I told her about my expedition to the Arctic, she asked, "So, when do you go on the Polar Bear Express?"
She also told me to run fast from the polar bears, but naming this blog "Run, Jen, Run!" isn't as charming as calling it "The Polar Bear Express."