Antarctica: Discovery on the Black-and-White Continent

Candice Gaukel Andrews March 18, 2014 14

In Antarctica, the landscape is so stripped of hues that even my color photos look as though they have been taken in black and white. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews

The world is shrinking. Advances in communication, computer technology and transportation have all played a role in making the world a smaller place. Now, it’s easy to “travel” to an exotic locale, just by the stroke of a finger across a small, mobile screen. From the Great Wall of China to Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater—in just a span of seconds—you can readily see what a place looks like. No longer do you have to pore through volumes of guidebooks or travel agency brochures. And social media gives you up-to-the-minute information on almost anyplace anywhere in the world.

With all this information at our fingertips, I believe that travel itself is changing. Gone are the bucket lists (so popular just a few years ago) of “must-see places before you die.” It’s not the destination so much anymore that makes us twinge with excitement. I have come to think it’s something else.

New reasons for “going”

From finding the best cup of coffee you’ve ever tasted in an unexpected place to wandering into a corner bookshop where you happen upon a rare publication that you never thought you’d ever be able to hold in your hands, I believe it’s passionate discovery that defines travel today.

I found clarity in a world that stood out with its contrasts. ©Colin McNulty

And so it was with my recent trip to Antarctica. I didn’t go because I needed to step on my seventh continent. Quite frankly, if you asked me on the spot, I couldn’t tell you how many continents I’ve actually trod. I didn’t go there because of a certain species of wildlife I wanted to see. There are relatively few terrestrial animals in Antarctica. And I certainly didn’t go to escape my own Wisconsin winters.

I went, I think, to find clarity in a world that had, as of late, become quite complicated. Too many decisions to make every second of the day, too many choices, too many nuances in day-to-day living. I hoped to discover a black-and-white world, where life could, at least for a moment, become simple again.

Finding clarity: physically and mentally

In Antarctica—“the coldest, driest, windiest, and highest place on Earth”—I found manifestations of clarity that are rarely seen in the world that lies in the latitudes above. The water is so clear that the bases of icebergs can be seen from the surface. The air is so clean that it felt like news to my lungs. And the landscape is so stripped of hues that even my color photos look as though they have been taken in black and white.

In such a stripped-down world, I realized that life is complicated only if I choose to make it so. There’s a common expression in our modern world that “things aren’t always black and white.” But after traveling to Antarctica, I know that they can be. That’s the real discovery I made on the seventh continent.

At first glance, when we consider technology, it does seem to be an obvious fact that the world is shrinking. We are now able to communicate at speeds never thought possible and to “know” people we have never met. That ability makes the world a smaller place.

But that same technology is also broadening our horizons. By learning about and traveling to far-flung destinations not possible decades ago, the world appears to be a bigger setting in which our thoughts and possibilities can expand.

So throw away your bucket lists and rosters of places yet to see. Instead, seek what you’re passionate about. The common thread in good travel stories today is that they are deeply personal, as all epic journeys throughout history have been.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,



  1. Claire Montanaro April 3, 2014 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Yes, it is, Candice. Sometimes the best places for us are right where we are!

  2. Adam Mulvihill March 25, 2014 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Nice article

  3. Jennie Garcia-Saqui March 21, 2014 at 7:26 am - Reply

    Very well written. I enjoyed reading your article. Indeed it is sometime good to see things as simple as possible, through the eyes of a child.

  4. harbans singh March 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    There should be clarity in the mind first.

  5. Brandon Neilson March 20, 2014 at 5:53 am - Reply

    Amazing story!

  6. Billy Wayne Fondren March 20, 2014 at 4:18 am - Reply

    Clearing your head in “the coldest, driest, windiest, and highest place on Earth”, may be more stressful for some and maybe most.
    I say to truthfully to entertain this concept ,you would really have to visit many different places in order to make a, say more educated guess.
    Such as the desert,air is good,maybe not the hot,driest, windiest,.. Of course you can watch the snakes and scorpions from a distance or not.
    Also depends on how much head clearing an individual needs. Thirty minutes in either location without bottled water would clear myself.
    I just tell most to simply turn off the electronics and go in the woods and listen,just be quiet and listen,because there is more

  7. Andre Breberina March 20, 2014 at 4:16 am - Reply

    Dare I say – cool! Great opportunity Candice

  8. Claire Montanaro March 20, 2014 at 4:14 am - Reply

    I would love to go to Antarctica, and before it becomes spoiled. In lieu of it, I find clarity in my wildlife garden in mid-Wales, surrounded by the Cambrian mountains and ancient woods, sharing my world with majestic raptors and tiny birds, toads and badgers, stoats and shrews. They teach me much.

  9. Tim March 19, 2014 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    I did the same thing a few years ago. Not to the antarctic but a desolate escape when life got too complex. Turned out to be the greatest thing allowing me to prioritize and return with a renewed passion that has not waned. My trip was to the Himalayas remote areas. Thanks for the post and I look forward to reading more of your adventures. Tim

  10. Russell Donnelly March 19, 2014 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Hello; Now if only the rest of our planet could be made clean and simple !!! 🙂 Great Article ! One question – Did you give those Penguins some fish ??! 🙂

    • Candice Gaukel Andrews March 19, 2014 at 11:00 am - Reply


      I think those penguins are far more capable of gathering fish than I am! Thanks for the question — and comment.

  11. Lucie Nováková March 19, 2014 at 9:15 am - Reply

    it is written so clearly, so nice.. it makes you think… Because your life is only in your hands.. 🙂

  12. Tom March 18, 2014 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Hi Candice, wow I am really impressed that you actually went to Antarctica. I can imagine the black and white imagery and I completely understand wanting to experience a different reality from our day to day complicated lives. All the best.

  13. Sune Holt March 18, 2014 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    Candy, thanks for your wonderful description. The black-and-white world that caught your fascination is even more fascinating after hours or days under whiteout conditions where everything merges with the white snow surface due to the snow blowing in the air.

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