Two Waterloo women traveled thousands of miles to see the sights of a continent often forgotten: Antarctica.
Betty Wightman and Judy Tomlinson are a pair of travel enthusiasts who have venturedall over the world on various cruises.
They met when they served on a library board together and realized how much they both liked to travel.
This February, they took a trip to Antarctica and other surrounding regions, including parts of South America, on a Holland America Line cruise.
They often travel with a couple of other women from St. Louis and enjoy following jazz groups.
“Sometimes we go for the music, but this time it was because we really wanted to see Antarctica,” Wightman said. “When you’re 81 years old, you figure you’d better go because you never know what next year could bring.”
Wightman said though the cruises they have been on are not exclusively for seniors, older travelers do make up most of the crowd.
“Probably 80 to 90 percent of the passengers were probably over 65 years old,” Tomlinson said. “If you’re going to do a three-week cruise, you’re probably retired and have the time to do it.”
On their three-week journey, they saw penguins, whales and seals and enjoyed taking in the sights of glaciers and sky-blue waters.
The highlight of their trip was a change in itinerary that took them to the Falkland Islands, which are usually not accessible because of storms.
“It was a good change of itinerary,” Tomlinson said. “The weather was perfect.”
However, the storms that are usually around the Falkland Islands had moved to the area around Cape Horn, and that made for a bit of an exciting trip, she said.
“They padlocked the doors to the deck and didn’t let us out for two days,” Tomlinson said. “We bounced around quite a bit.”
The two were amused by the fact that it was, for the most part, warmer down south by Antarctica than it was back at home in Monroe County when they were on their trip in early February.
“There were only two days that it was cooler in Antarctica than it was here (in Waterloo),” Tomlinson said. “We got away at a good time.”
Wightman said she has been to 45 countries, but never imagined she’d make it down to Antarctica.
“It was just so wonderful,” she said. “And I love that so many nations are coming together to protect (Antarctica’s environment).”
When Tomlinson met with Wightman for the interview, she brought more travel information about a trip to Greece in the summer.
“Now you’re tempting me with another trip!” Wightman exclaimed to Tomlinson. “You can read about all this in books, but seeing it in person is a whole different thing.”