After driving nearly 900 miles, stepping out of the car and into the warm evening air of southern Florida feels especially sweet. We have just arrived in Homestead, a small town located a few dozen miles north of the Florida Keys. Within five minutes, we pull bags and gear from the trunk, take a quick look around our AirBnB, then head straight to the back yard. While Kate strums a melody on her ukulele, I stretch and stare at the day’s final rays of sun peeking through giant palm leaves. It almost feels like a vacation. Almost.Read More
A year ago today, I quit my job at UNC to pursue being a full-time freelance photographer, videographer, and professional adventurer.Read More
Faced with the daunting task of handling life-threatening situations, the WFR protocol arms us with a set of systems. We learn how to check heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure. We learn how to evaluate a patient’s skin, and pupils, and level of consciousness. We learn these six measures are our vital signs.
We cover topic after topic: Sprains. Strains. Fractures. Seizure. Stoke. Heart attack. Shock.
With each new subject, Randy tosses out a short story or one-liner. A stroke is “the brain’s version of a heart attack.” Shock is “a momentary pause in the process of dying.” Skin is “the best Gortex you’re ever going to get!”Read More
Today is December 31st. In just a few hours, the righteous, volatile, and life-changing year that has been 2018 will come to an end. In an attempt to make sense of the past 365 days, I am adding up numbers.
128: the number of days I spent at home in Chapel Hill/Durham.
237: the number of days I spent traveling.
Four major road trips across 18 states in the U.S., a corner of Canada, and two regions of Japan equals roughly 12,000 miles traveled by car.
105 days of living and working at sea comes out to over 9,000 nautical miles traveled by ship.
16 flights equate to about 17,500 miles traveled by plane.Read More
After spending two months at sea this summer, one of my colleagues from the ship told me her buddy was planning to bring a group of American musicians to Japan for the first time. She suggested I reach out to him about documenting the tour.
A couple e-mails, two phone calls, and one very long plane ride later, I find myself in Japan, meeting Gus Bennett for the first time, along with with singer-songwriter Pat Hull and folk rock duo The Smoking Flowers. I have landed in a strange, foreign place, but I quickly come to find I am among friends.Read More
Before 2018, I had never spent more than two days on a boat in the open ocean.
In the past nine months, I have joined four different major research expeditions, culminating in over 100 days spent living and working at sea. Below are just a few moments (and people) that stand out in my mind.Read More
In just a few hours, we’ll cross another state border, and I’ll savor the joy of seeing yet another rugged, beautiful place that I’ve never visited before. While I still have signal, I Google some quick facts about Montana.
Montana comes from the Spanish word Montaña which in turn comes from the Latin word Montanea, meaning "mountain", or more broadly, "mountainous country". Montaña del Norte was the name given by early Spanish explorers to the entire mountainous region of the west.Read More
This is my favorite thing. This is my favorite thing.
As the midday sun beats down on us, and the muscles in my legs strain against the rocky incline, I repeat this phrase silently to myself, over and over again.
I'm climbing up a giant volcano. This is my favorite thing. This is my favorite thing!Read More
As the bartender places the beers on the counter, I tell her today is the first day of an epic road trip.
"No way!" she says. "That is so cool. Where are you guys headed?"
"Everywhere," Jon says.
We give her a quick overview of our itinerary—drive from here (San Diego) straight to northern California, then into southern Oregon, across Idaho into Montana and Canada, then down into Wyoming, Utah, and eventually end up in New Mexico.
She stares at us, with her mouth open. "I'm so jealous! That sounds amazing!"Read More
When Chief Officer Jason Garwood hands me a mug of tea, I accept it gratefully and gently blow on the emanating steam. The force of my breath forms tiny ripples across the small circle of hot liquid. Outside, the early morning breeze generates the same effect, creating steady, rhythmic waves across the surface of the northeastern tropical Pacific. Right now we are roughly 215 miles off the coast of southern Mexico.Read More
As we lower down and splash into the rolling water, I feel a child-like sense of joy. This is fun! Especially today—the sunshine is righteous. When I went out in this boat three days ago, I wore my fleece and soft shell jacket. Now, after so many cool gray days, it finally feels like summer. We zoom away from the ship and I relish the sensation of hard wind in my face and the sight of sunlight twinkling on the water's surface.Read More
I’m exhausted. Hauling boxes and bags is fine, but the mental fortitude required to go through everything I’ve ever owned necessitates a different kind of strength.
"Today is Sibling Day!" I shake my head in disbelief. "We forgot again!"
Austin and I are closer than most siblings I know, but we almost always forget to mark "Sibling Day" on our calendars. More often than not, we happen to be together on April 10th, doing something awesome.
I didn't take a photo at that moment, but if I had, it would have captured the identical grins on our faces.
Throughout our time in Antarctica, I never felt homesick. I never wished I wasn’t there. But I did spend a few nights tossing and turning—either from the lurching of the ship or the turbulence of my own mind.
In those moments, as I squirmed around in the small bunk, I allowed my thoughts to drift to my "happy place"—not my bed, not my house in Chapel Hill—but my little orange tent, the Creamsicle.
Now, as I pull my sleeping bag up to my face and breathe in the cold, crisp mountain air, I can't believe I'm finally here.Read More
I stop by Zee's office, give her a huge hug, and tell her I'm working on some plans. I don't know exactly how or when, but I know— in my mind, in my heart, in my gut — I'm coming back here.
"Marley, it's been such a pleasure meeting you," Zee says warmly. "You know what you have to do now, right?"
She looks at me intently, taking in my boundless energy and eagerness.
"Keep it alive," she says. "I know you'll be back down here. Just keep it alive."Read More
"This place works almost as a natural selection for people that have this intention to jump off the margin of the map, and we all meet here – where all the lines of the map converge.
I think a fair amount of the population here are full-time travelers and part time workers. They are the professional dreamers."Read More
Widely regarded by scientists as one of the iciest places on the planet, the Weddell Sea is perhaps best known for trapping Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, in 1914. When I read Alfred Lansing's book about that doomed expedition, and the incredible fight for survival that followed, I loved the gripping descriptions and vivid details.
But I have an entirely newfound appreciation for that epic story now. No wonder they got stuck here.Read More
After months and months of planning, and weeks of transit, it feels good to finally get to work. The eight people on our team, plus the marine technicians and the LMG crew, work together seamlessly, and I find it invigorating to document how all the pieces come together - the easy radio communications between the bridge and the back deck and the boats, the joy of the marine technicians when they see whales up close, and the tangible excitement of the PhD students on board.Read More
It's a classic question: if you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you bring with you?
For five people spending 12 days on a rocky, icy strip of land at the bottom of the world, the answer is this: over 2,000 pounds of stuff — food, water, tents, clothing, scientific equipment, tools, and other supplies.Read More
The freezing wind whips my face as I try to fully grasp where I am. Exactly one week ago, I was boarding a plane at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Now I’m less than five miles from Palmer Station, Antarctica. It still doesn’t feel real.Read More