Thursday, December 13, 2007

So long, and thanks for all the...chicken

In a few short hours, I'll be hopping on a C-17 cargo plane and heading home by way of New Zealand. Leaving is somewhat bittersweet as I don't know when or even if I'll be back to Antarctica again. People often ask me "Why Antarctica?" It's such an amazing and intense place. You end up living and working in such close quarters with people that you can't help but get to really know them. The quality of friendships forged down here amazes me the most. I feel very fortunate to be walking away from this experience with a bunch of really great friends. The other great thing about Antarctica is that it has forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to learn a lot about myself and the world. And you can't beat the scenery. I've seen landscapes that take your breath away.

With all that said though, I'm really excited to get home and settle back into life. Hopefully I'll be able to relax for a few days before starting back to work. There's also a lot of work in the coming weeks and months to get Elizabeth and my wedding and reception arranged. She's been handling all of the details while I've been gone so it's about time I go back and start lending a hand.

Some of you may remember that I had a bet going about not eating Frosty Boy. I'm proud to say that I made it the whole season, as did Cara. So yesterday we met at dinner and each had a bowl. It was delicious, but I'm still glad I held out.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

A harrowing journey

Yesterday I barely returned from a traverse to a geological feature called Castle Rock. The conditions were appalling. The sun beat down from a clear blue sky and a cold wind howled down the ridge. It was like hiking across a mirror under a full afternoon sun. My face bore the brunt of the sun and wind's assault. My sunglasses were the only thing that saved me from snow blindness.

In all seriousness, though, it was pretty foolish of me to forget to put sunscreen on while out hiking for 4 hours. The sun down here ravages your face if you're out for any length of time. And I'm paying the price today. It's been a rather hard season on my face, with frostbite early on and sunburn now. I'm going to come home and be pretty leather faced. The trip yielded some nice photos, though:

Friday, December 07, 2007

Final Week

This marks the start of my final week on ice. We got up early this morning and saw a large group of ANDRILL folks off. With this mass exodus, our numbers are cut in half. It was hard seeing people go, but there's still a lot of work to be done and I will see many of them in Florida in a couple of months.

The last couple of days have been alternating between full on and relaxed. I'm sitting in an office with Rich, Laura, and Leslie, so there is always something going on or someone coming and going. Fortunately, when things do get stressed, someone busts out a joke and breaks the tension.

I'm looking forward to getting home and some R&R. This season seems to have taken it out of me more than last, but last year everything was new and novel. Anyhow, no pictures this post. Hopefully I'll have some for the next post. Cheers.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Antarctic Vehicles 4: Tucker Sno-Cat

Yesterday I added another vehicle to my repertoire, the Tucker Sno-Cat:

We had to get out to the drill site for a video conference and the only vehicle available was this trusty Tucker. It's slow like a Pisten Bully--our hand held GPS unit had us clocked in at 11 knots, which is just over 12 mph--but the ride was fairly smooth since it actually has a suspension. The Tuckers must be quite durable as this one was manufactured in 1984--only 2 years after I was born.

On the way out to the site, we ran into some pretty dicey weather. The snow was blowing so bad you couldn't see the next flag on the route until you were almost on top of it, so we had to drive by GPS. It's frighteningly easy to get lost in conditions like that if you lose the flags.

When we were leaving the drill site, there was a group of penguins that came to check out the Tucker from a distance:

This may be the end of the Antarctic Vehicle series. I think I've driven most of the ground vehicles available to the scientists, and I didn't have much luck convincing the helo pilot to let me fly it. This is Tucker Trucker 072 signing off.