BY: Gail Small
Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.
It started in kindergarten. I made my resolution -- I am going to see the world!
I was always curious about the globe and the many volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia in our house. I would climb up to reach them and take them off the shelves to peek. I learned a new big word... continents.
"We live in a Melting Pot." I remember hearing that and that I lived in... North America.
I noticed maps of oceans, countries, boundaries, lakes, and people. I began drawing pictures of the many different people who had come from all over to live in the United States.
I wanted to go to all seven continents!
Through travel, education, and amazing opportunities that came my way, I began to see the world.
In South America, I walked through rainforests with mountains, animal life, and vegetation, and... it really rained! Sopping wet, I heard talk that rainforests are disappearing.
Africa has a lot of languages among the people who live in cities and villages. We need to provide opportunities to lessen poverty and help to feed the families in the disadvantaged communities.
In Europe, I found out that Big Ben is not a giant person. Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and riding on a gondola in Venice were exciting and fun.
"Passengers, someone has lost something," announced the pilot on my flight to Australia. As we all looked around, he continued, "Laura has lost... her birthday." So on my way to "The Land Down Under," I experienced traveling through different time zones and going from summer to winter. The pilot tipped the plane a little so passengers could have a glance at The Great Barrier Reef.
Asia was special when I became intrigued with the pandas. And then, in Thailand, it was the elephants. I went to "elephant camp" and watched the elephants learn team-building as they stacked logs into place. I went on a raft, and through the trees I could hear locals singing as they rode their elephants in the villages. Then, to see elephants play in the water and spray like a carwash was a chance to realize... that animals big and small need the help of people like you and me.
"Think green." I began hearing scientists predict that global warming is underway. My resolution began to evolve; I needed to not just hear the words, but to learn more about "going green."
I was speaking on a ship in South America when offered the opportunity to fly to Antarctica. It took me only one second to say... Yes!
My resolution to visit all seven continents became -- reality!
I didn't need my alarm clock to ring at 3 A.M. I was daydreaming about my resolution... to see the world. I didn't even know some of the passengers who loaned me clothes. I put on seven layers, two wool hats, two pairs of gloves, men's boots over my boots, and... felt like a stuffed sausage.
Antarctica is not an easy place to get to! I boarded a small (very small) plane with a veterinarian who was a scientist and wildlife expert. While in route, depending on the weather, the pilot wasn't sure if we could land. And... we did! The veterinarian explained she had prepared twenty times before her first landing in Antarctica.
I could barely walk and waddled... like a penguin. The land on Ardley Island looked to me like what space might look like. I could see red, orange and yellow growths amidst gray, brown, and green on the rocks.
I was with Chilean, Russian and German scientists who were all getting along. I kept thinking, why can't the world get along?
The wind blew as we explored. I put on a big life jacket and got into a little Zodiac. I never thought about the freezing waters below me and the real danger. The Zodiac glided along and the ice water splashed up. Brrrr.
I saw astounding scenery, wildlife, and penguins. As I was helped out of the Zodiac, I was told, "Penguins have the right of way." It was like a foreign land -- the land of penguins. I waddled just like them and they were just all so busy. Penguin moms were near the water and some were ready to return to their families. It was like seeing the line to get into the after-Thanksgiving sale at a department store.
Dads who had been sitting on the eggs hatched two babies each. Each had his own distinct sounds, the pitch or yelp that they talked with. I talked to them too. I couldn't help it! "Don't worry; your Mommy will be here soon." The mouths of the young just reunited were open and being fed. The others were waiting... with hope. Some were lying on their bellies and sliding down a slope while their elders watched for predators. My heart went out to them when I remembered the penguin movies I have seen and the stories of woe.
I returned in the Zodiac to the small airstrip. They say Antarctica is the coldest and windiest continent. I decided that layer number seven could come off as I became somewhat comfortable. Wrong! I unbuttoned my jacket and rounded the corner on the path to the airplane. That was when the Antarctic wind blew and I was too cold and windblown to refasten my coat. The strong wind force was against me, I was moving in the wrong direction! A naturalist helped me make it to the plane. Ahhhhhhh, ascending the stairs to warmth. I had fulfilled a dream; my life's resolution had come true.
It took visiting all seven continents to fulfill my resolution to visit the globe.
Now a new resolution waits for me. To help!
I used to hear, "You can't protect what you don't know." The one thing I've learned in all my travels is that the planet needs our help right now. We all need to find a way to help in "going green."
My childhood resolution has been achieved and I have discovered a new, more important resolution.
How we can all help to save our earth?!