Trip of a Lifetime: Robert Johnson Visits “The Last Continent”
For every five years of work at Arthrex, employees are eligible for a company-funded Trip of a Lifetime to their destination of their choice. Employees have taken the Arthrex Traveling Flag with them all over the world—from the top of the Swiss Alps to the bottom of the ocean. Now, Senior Packaging Manufacturing Engineer Robert Johnson shares his story about bringing the flag to the bottom of the world:
“It’s always been a goal of mine to travel to all seven continents. When I finally had the opportunity to book a trip to Antarctica, the last continent left on my list, the two questions I was always asked were, ‘Why do you want to go there?’ and ‘What are you going to do there?’ At the time, my answer was, ‘It’s the last continent I need to visit to reach my goal.’ I don’t think I could have possibly underestimated this trip more.
I started my journey by traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina and stayed there for a couple days enjoying delicious Argentinian beef and the famous local wine. I also got to see Tango shows, which is a form of ballroom dance that originated in Argentina. From there, I flew to Ushuaia, Argentina, or 'Fin Del Mundo,' which is the southernmost city in the world.
That’s where I boarded the ship Ocean Adventurer to get to Antarctica. We spent the next two days crossing Drake Passage, where we encountered 15-18-foot waves. It was a very rocky trip, but it was all worth it the moment we woke up surrounded by beautiful icebergs and mountains.
Each day there were two zodiac (raft) departures from the ship in the morning and afternoon to bring us to land to see wildlife or get up close to the ice formations. In between landings, we had briefings and presentations about the different facets of Antarctica. The first time I actually stepped onto Antarctica, it was such a rush. I was overwhelmed. The feeling was truly indescribable and the landscape was breathtaking.
It was common for us to see seals napping in the snow and penguins curiously walking up to us. We also saw whales while we cruised between the ship and land. Each day was better than the last and the scenery and wildlife presented something entirely new. We were able to see old ship wrecks, research stations, countless icebergs and even some icebergs collapsing as they melted.
On the afternoon of the third day in Antarctica, I participated in the 'Polar Plunge.' Yes, I jumped into 35-degree water. Never have I experienced such pain, joy, excitement, adrenaline and exhilaration all in a matter of five seconds!
One of the most fascinating parts of Antarctica is the ever-changing weather. In one day, we experienced clear, sunny skies, followed by 70-90-knot winds and snowfall, followed by a clear evening. Our guides had to be prepared for anything.
While I took pictures with the Arthrex flag, several people asked me about it. I told them all about Arthrex and the wonderful Trip of a Lifetime benefit. Everyone was stunned and all had the same thing to say – ‘What a wonderful company you work for!’
I couldn’t agree more and I’ll be forever thankful for the opportunity to take what was truly a trip of a lifetime!”