Mac’s Favorite Vacation
Not my favorite destination for a vacation, but it certainly was the most unusual trip I’ve ever taken. I arrived at the North Pole (yes, 90 degrees north latitude) within one hour of the time Admiral Peary had arrived at the pole 60 years before. The Admiral made the trip over the ice on a dog sled; I went under the ice in a submarine!
It was spring in the northern hemisphere, the month of May, so the weather was balmy – 25 degrees below zero with a 20 knot wind blowing. We wore heavy cold weather pants and coats with hats that had a face mask to protect your lips and nose from freezing. To have your picture taken, you had to undo the face mask so your face could be recognized, and within a few minutes, the moisture in your breath froze in your beard.
The ice could be as thick as about 120 feet, so we had to look for a thin spot through which to surface. The ice is always breaking up and refreezing, so it creates those thin areas where it has recently refrozen, and we were fortunate to find one right at the pole. We surfaced the boat through 2-3’ of ice, then climbed out onto the ice by using a wooden ladder, not a metal one. At those cold temperatures, you don’t want to touch bare skin to metal; it would freeze to the metal instantly.
This trip was interesting and it has provided me with lots of sea stories to tell, but it’s not a place you want to visit again. No beaches, no trees, no mountains, no activities, no historic sights to see, no famous artwork, no cultural experiences…
Nothing but ice for as far as the eye can see.