Kim Gibson has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, backpacked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and traveled extensively across the United States.
Earlier this year, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, he checked Antarctica off the list of continents he hadn’t visited. It was the only one.
“I like the adventure,” said the 63-year-old from Council Bluffs. “I like the newness of going to different places and seeing different things.”
Antarctica has always intrigued the world traveler. He had gotten a taste of the climate when he visited Greenland in 2017, and he wasn’t fazed by the frosty temperatures.
His February trip coincided with Antarctica’s summer, with daytime highs in the mid-20s to low-30s.
“I really like the polar environment and seeing icebergs and glaciers,” Gibson said.
He left for the 10-day trip from the southern tip of Argentina and crossed the Drake Passage, notorious for bad weather. The ship Orion cruised the northwest peninsula of Antarctica, which is about the size of the United States.
It was his first National Geographic cruise, and he loved the smaller ship (100 passengers) and the naturalists and historians on staff. Frequent seminars on whales, penguins and the natural life below the ice were available, as well as history lessons on the race to the South Pole.
Passengers weren’t allowed to dive, but small zodiac boats took them out to see a research station and penguin colonies with as many as 10,000 birds.
He saw lots of killer and humpback whales, leopard seals feasting on penguins and many, many birds.
It was one of his favorite trips. The only disappointment was not being able to make more shore visits.
“From the remoteness, the pristine environment and the marine life, it was definitely one of the top destinations,” he said.
Gibson was bit by the travel bug in his 20s after taking a trip to Turkey. He traveled extensively the next four years before he got a “serious job.” But working 33 years in the crop insurance industry required travel, too.
He has taken many trips with his wife, Teresa, and children Chase and Courtney, and he and Chase have climbed Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. He and Teresa hope to go to New Zealand next spring, one of the few countries he has yet to visit. It’s the premier hunting spot for red stag.
The past few years, a detached retina slowed down his plans. But Gibson said he’s back in the swing of things. He went backpacking in the Grand Canyon in November and took a family skiing vacation to Colorado in March.
A fishing trip to Alaska and a visit to Tanzania had also been in the works, but those have been delayed because of the virus.
That’s hard for a frequent traveler.
“I’d really like to get back in to going to some places,” he said. “It will happen eventually.”