Antarctic adventure welcomes White Oak alum

Robert Early was out of the country for Turkey Day, but he spent a ‘Friendsgiving’ closer to the South Pole with a parcel of new pals as a penguin posse welcomed the White Oak alum to Antarctica this month.
The 19-year-old Aggie and 35 other Texas A&M students are currently on ‘The Ice’ and out of contact to avoid the world’s worst roaming charges while visiting the base of the globe. With her son exploring the seventh continent, Danielle Early provided a quick update Monday.
“The attire we had to buy for him, from the base layers to the outer layers to the special pants and stuff was just amazing to me,” she said. “I’ve been snow skiing, so I know about some cold weather equipment, but I didn’t know about any of this at all.”
Par for the course when headed for the windiest, coldest continent on Earth, and good thing, too – the group has already weathered a “substantial snowstorm” according to reports from the expedition lead, who has some online access to send out updates, including photos.
Departing Nov. 16, “They flew out of Houston, and they went to Buenos Aires first,” Danielle Early said, before another trip further south: “They landed the second time in Ushuaia, Argentina. They spent a few days there, taking in some sights and experiencing the culture.
“They got on a ship specially designed to go through the ice and other things down there and made their voyage to Antarctica.”
That leg of the adventure got mom’s blood pressure up.
“They had to go through the Drake Passage where seas converge,” she noted. “It’s the roughest waters, the most dangerous in the world. There’s about 800 ships at the bottom of it. I didn’t know that until right before he was leaving.
“I was delighted when I knew they were on the other side of it in Antarctica, because my momma heart was worried.”
At this point in the adventure, though, Danielle’s reveling in the snapshots she’s collected: Robert unfurling an Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Company A2 flag, dipping a hand in the frigid waters or posing with a ‘White Oak FFA’ sign and a cool smile amid the barren landscape while penguins photo-bomb the shot.
Double majoring in Psychology and Anthropology, Robert recently described tentative research plans for the trip, such as studying the growing effect human observation has on the species of Antarctica that were previously isolated from the Anthropecene or analyzing social behavior of penguins exposed to Avian influenza.”
He’s attempted to explain it all before, Danielle said, but “I can’t really explain it to you,” she adds with a laugh.
She’s hungry for more details but being patient. For now, Danielle understands the team is visiting different spots on their itinerary and spending their nights on the ship, water and weather permitting.
Important for mom, “He will be back in time for Christmas, about the middle of December.”
Stay tuned to the Gladewater Mirror for updates when they’re available.

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