A Wedding Gift for the Jane Readers Among You :o)

I have another post of Arctic pics lined up, but I wanted to change to the subject for a moment to something closer to home. Here's something we received from some of my dear people at Penguin after we got married.

 Umbrellas, magical worlds, and joint adventures! My editor, Kathy Dawson, found the card, and my artist and mapmaker for Bitterblue and Jane, Unlimited, Ian Schoenherr, revised it :o). Jane, Unlimited readers will hopefully understand why.

My mouth fell open when I saw it, and I promptly burst into tears. Thank you to those involved -- you know who you are :o).

More soon!

The Arctic Circle: Inside the Antigua

You might be wondering what it was like to live inside a ship for two weeks as we explored western Spitsbergen. For a sense of our day-to-day inside lives, here are some pictures from inside the Antigua. Please keep in mind that it was HARD to take these particular shots, because all the spaces are small and strangely-shaped, no space on a ship is designed for easy photographing, and also, the ship is never, ever still. It's tricky to take in-focus pictures when the floor is moving!

See the door in the middle of this picture, with the circular window? Let's step inside.

First thing you encounter is the Very Narrow Corridor With Too Many Boots. In the picture below, it is way more tidy than normal. We didn't wear our outside shoes inside the Antigua, so every time you stepped in or out, you did the awkward and time-consuming boot-transition thing.

To the right are teeny bathrooms and the door to the engine room; to the left is the entrance to the kitchen, shown below. I did…

The Arctic Circle: A few landscapes to set the mood!

In the coming weeks, I want to blog about a typical day on board; tell little stories of routines and big stories of adventures, in pictures; introduce you to some of the characters from my journey; familiarize you with the beautiful Antigua; and talk a little about my writing work on board.

I want to start, though, with a simple series of landscape photos, just to give a sense of atmosphere. For two weeks, with the exception of one day when we docked at the research station in Ny-Ålesund, we were alone on both land and sea. At the beginning of our trip, on October 1, we had about 10 and a half hours of daylight. As the trip progressed, we began to lose daylight steeply, as much as 40 minutes per day, such that when we returned to Longyearbyen on October 15, we had about 6 and a half hours of daylight. Can you imagine such a change, over the course of two weeks?

It made for some dramatic and moody skies.

Notice, in these pictures, how often my camera would reach for the Antigua in the…

The Arctic Circle: The Journey Begins!

On a cold morning on the last day of September, we flew into Spitsbergen, the western-most island of the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. We were having rare sunny weather, so the pilot changed course a bit to give those of us on the right side of the plane a beautiful Svalbardian view.

We landed in the town of Longyearbyen, which is one of the few permanently populated places in Svalbard.

The moon you can see, big in that sky, was a permanent fixture for the first week of our journey. It never set, it just circled the sky, always low and big against the horizon. Then, with the new moon, it set -- and never came back again.

Our time in Longyearbyen was brief, but I did manage to pop over to the library :o).

The next morning, with our suitcases in hand and a stomach full of nerves, we went to the pier to board our new home, the Antigua.

Personally, I thought she looked pretty small for 40+ people. And for two weeks on the Arctic Ocean. And for not puking the entire time. What was I th…