Written and posted on May 19, 2018
The sun does not set in the Arctic from April 20 - August 22.
Think about that. 24-hour light! (And, let's not think about the 4 months of complete darkness over the winter months.)
Every night when I went to bed, I took a picture out the port hole in our cabin. I'd also take a screen shot of my iPhone as a time stamp.
I had taken this video a minute before.
We slept with the port hole door open. While it wasn't particularly conducive for solid sleep, I appreciated the novelty of the Midnight Sun. (When I was in Finland and we were at 22 hours of light in May, I would go for a walk at 11pm and then I would don an eye mask because I was racing to finish my Fulbright capstone project and I needed sleep!)
On this expedition, I was getting 5-7 hours of sleep each night, but since it was just a week out at sea, I didn't mind so much.
On this night, I was asleep before midnight only to be woken up a few hours later by this....
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."