Saturday, September 19, 2015

One Continent Left

Is it crazy that I want to visit Antartica? Certainly some folks think so. As one of them said to me recently, "What is there to see besides ice and snow and maybe a few penguins?" I could argue the point about the intrigue of ice and snow or the many other animals, most of them sea creatures, one can only see at the world's southernmost land mass. It's all true. . .and it all misses the point. I want to see Antartica for the same reason Sir Edmund Hillary gave for climbing Everest: Because it's there.

As a little girl growing up in the Arizona desert, I dreamed of travel. In those days that meant seeing something outside the far southwestern corner of America. My parents were school teachers who talked about interesting places in the news or told stories of foreign cultures in exotic locales, but for our family, travel usually meant going to visit relatives who lived within a few hours' drive.

That didn't keep me from childhood adventures. My father worked occasional summers for the U.S. Forest Service. As a child, I often drifted off to sleep to the sound of a summer rain shower or awakened to the trumpet of a bull elk. With the children of other forest service workers, I explored the spruce and fir forests of the White Mountains, watched a porcupine build her nest and rear her young, and ate for breakfast the rainbow trout I caught at the lake that morning. These experiences only whetted my appetite for even greater adventures.

In the decades since, I've had many more travel opportunities than my modest upbringing might have suggested, some of them much more adventurous than I'd planned. For instance, there was the educational trip my daughter took for college credit when I tagged along. We knew we would have new experiences in Bolivia. We did not expect to witness revolution, the overthrow of a government, or the upending of a centuries-old social order. But that's another story for a different time.

It was in 2010 after a long-anticipated anniversary cruise in the Mediterranean that my husband and I realized we had set foot on every one of the world's continents save one. We can't say we've seen Africa, not after an overnight stay in Cairo. Nor can our half-day in the eastern side of Turkey qualify us as having seen Asia, but we have visited both, as well as Australia, Europe, North and South America. And that leaves .,, yep, you guessed it.

Antartica isn't  next on my list of travel priorities; in fact, it's way down that list. Since it isn't really on my husband's list at all, there's some doubt as to whether I'll ever set foot there. Then again, I didn't really expect to visit Africa, either. As long as Antartica is still there, I'll want to see it--if not for the bragging rights, at least for the penguins.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 13 novels with a 14th due this fall. Mom to seven, she is "Gramma" to 24. She lives in northern California with her husband of 45 years and a pair of spoiled housecats. Contact her @SusanAylworth, or, also on Pinterest and Instagram. She loves to hear from readers.


  1. Wow. Now going to every continent is something I'd love to do. I really love the snow and cold so Antartica appeals to me but there probably isn't a resort there Lol. Can't wait to retire so I can travel more

  2. How many of the places you visited have shown up in a book, Susan?

    I never thought about it before, but now setting foot on every continent is on my bucket list. Like Kathye, I'm hoping there's a plush resort there when I get to Antartica.

  3. Hi Susan--
    I, too, am drawn to Antarctica. I hope to visit someday, but it is further down my list as well. I enjoyed reading about your childhood adventures.

  4. That sounds thrilling! I can only claim two continents in my travels at this point and sort of doubt, I'll ever get beyond three. I have a cousin who spent several months in Antarctica doing research. The preparation for going there was arduous. I'm not sure I'd have been willing to go through it all.