Unintentional twins and John's girlfriend, Jennifer, at O'Hare International Airport.

by John Huston

Today, we said goodbye to our loved ones.  The next time we will see them will be in late April in Svalbard, Norway.  Svalbard is a mountainous archipelago several hundred miles north of Norway and where a Russian aircraft will deposit us after picking us up at the North Pole.

The parting was emotional, heartfelt and enjoyable.  Tyler and I have a big feeling of success. Success in getting the expedition project to this point.  And success that we positively envision having on our quest to ski unsupported to the North Pole.

Our last memories of loved ones are extraordinarily important to us.  We cherish them and savor them as mental anchors while on the expedition.  Tyler departed from Minneapolis.  On Saturday, he, his wife Sarah and their 4 month-old son, Ethan, drove south from Ely to Tyler's parents' house in Center City, outside of Minneapolis.  There they rendezvoused with his sister's young family for a relaxing home-cooked dinner.  Tyler's morning was one of hectic packing of the car, emotional goodbyes to Sarah and Ethan and a sad embrace of his old, loyal German shepherd.

Sarah, Tyler's wife, attaches a necklace holding a small silver polar bear. She wore the same piece on her 2004 Arctic Quest expedition.

I departed from Chicago.  My last evening at home was spent my parents and my girlfriend Jennifer  We dined in the warm, cozy confines of my family's favorite restaurant, Marinella's Italian Ristorante, in my childhood home of Glen Ellyn.  Today, Jennifer and I had a perfect relaxing morning, walked her dog in the warm spring-like Chicago sun and then headed to the airport to meet my parents and Tyler, who was connecting from Minneapolis.

In Terminal 1 at O'Hare International airport Tyler, Jennifer and I enjoyed a large Mexican meal, brought in by my parents.  We savored the forever universal combination of food (dreams of guacamole abound on the ice!) and family for as long as possible before heading through the security gate.

For both of us, the past week has been a stressful one of expectations unmet. We both know that expectations can be a very dangerous thing when thinking ahead to the future, because most often reality and expectations don't match and that can cause of a bit of frustration and mental stress.
It is this humble detachment from expectations that Tyler and I are so good at when on the ice and when working with nature, but that sometimes we struggle with at home.  We really wanted to have a relatively low stress week, which at times was just impossible due to the demands of media, administrative duties and dealing with a few unforeseen equipment shipping complications.

Luggage in Ottawa.

Now we will spend 3 days in Ottawa, Ontario procuring our food and ensuring cargo shipments are in place.  We love Ottawa, which has a nice European feel and is easy to navigate.  On Wednesday morning, we fly to Iqaluit where we will train a bit and relax for two weeks.

We left the U.S. well of ahead of the March 1 expedition starting date, precisely because we did not want the stresses of leaving to happen too close to the start of the expedition.  Now it is just the 2-man Victorinox North Pole 09 expedition team, no cell phones, reduced distractions, increased expeditionary focus and 21 days until we ski north.

Tyler relaxing in Ottawa