Written and posted on 11/23/18.
We were up early, having arrived at Moffen Island, a protected nature preserve deemed by the Norwegian Polar Institute as, "probably the most important resting spot for the walrus in Svalbard." The population of walruses on Svalbard is at about 2,000, having recovered after near extinction due to hunting for ivory. There were an estimated 100 walruses on the island this morning, a strange and wondrous sight to see mounds of animals, those sunbathing solo, along with walruses swimming about along the island shore.
Sailing from one spot to another, in my opinion, is so much of the adventure. The changing landscapes and seascapes of Svalbard never ceased to occupy my attention.
On this day, we were met with gray skies, snow that fell in fluffy flakes, blue skies, and fog. And it was cold, the first day that I used hand warmers when being ashore for a landing where it was fun to zoom in and focus on some found items like beluga whale bones, shells, kelp, and sea urchins.
Dozens of walruses + gorgeous scenes + a landing....quite a day! But that was not even half of it....
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."