FORT MILL — While some Fort Mill residents were vexed by last week’s winter blast, Joy Smith was busy planning a trip to a land of ice and snow.
Not that she’s particularly fond of winter weather. For Smith, 70, traveling to Antarctica for two weeks is a way to honor the memory of a friend.
When Margaret Mendez, a friend of Smith’s from her days living in New York, recently died, she left Smith the money to do what they both loved – travel.
“I’m going because of her,” Smith said.
Smith said she’s planning to make a toast to Mendez during her trip.
The choice of destination came to mind, Smith said, when she thought of Madeline Albers. Smith, a member of the Philanthropic Education Organization, heard Albers speak at one of their meetings about 10 years ago. Albers discussed her travels around the world and described Antarctica as quiet, peaceful and spiritual and that stuck with Smith ever since.
“She spoke so passionately about Antarctica,” Smith said. “ I can’t wait to see the continent. I can’t imagine how beautiful it must be.”
Smith will take her journey on the National Geographic Explorer, a 367-foot state-of-the art ice-class expedition ship. The voyage is detailed in the magazine National Geographic Expeditions .
Smith will be joined by another good friend from New York who also likes to travel.
“We’ll have a good time,” Smith said.
The pair will travel a day ahead to explore Buenos Aires in Argentina, where the cruise departs. From Buenos Aires, the group will fly to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, and set sail on the Explorer. The ship will then cross the Drake Passage, where passengers can expect close-up view of whales.
Under 24-hour daylight, Smith and the other travelers will explore the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands. The travelers will also explore Paradise Bay, the Lemaire Channel and Petermann Island, which is known for its penguin populations.
To prepare for her trip, Smith borrowed gear from friends, including ski pads, ski gloves and a suitcase that is lightweight and big enough for her gear and clothes. She also bought plastic pants to go over hers and keep her dry in the wet climate.
Smith’s friends also held a “Taste of the Antarctic” luncheon for her, where they served iceberg lettuce with ocean blue cheese dressing, “polar beared” sticks and “baked Antarctica.” At the luncheon, Smith received hand and foot warmers and a toy penguin named Waddles, which the group of friends plan to take around the world, starting with Antarctica.
“I have crazy friends,” she said.
Smith said the trip will not be a typical vacation.
“It’s a part of the world where very few people have the opportunity to go,” Smith said. “It’s an expedition.”
Smith describes herself as adventurous and recently went skydiving. She also enjoys horse back riding and climbing the Peaks of Otter in her home town of Bedford, Va., each year on her birthday. She is also writing a cook book.
“Retirement is the best time of your life,” Smith said. “Every day is a vacation.”