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November 25, 2002

Being in Antarctica is Cool

This is awesome. It's 12:15 AM, and the sun is shining brilliantly on the ice and mountians outside. I love it. So, I've decided it's time for a check-in. An emotional check-in, you might say, before I get back to the events.

I'm in Antarctica. That's frickin' crazy. It's also a bit crazy that it doesn't really feel like I'm on some isolated and hostile continent, because MacMurdo is pretty cushy. I just had a nice ice cream coffee (no Baileys, unfortunately) with three fine gentlemen in a warm cafeteria, and now am on the internet, writing to the masses in a tee-shirt and coords. It's cold at MacMurdo, but how cold one feels depends in great part on the sun and the wind. Sunny and windless means warm, as in I walk around outside in my coords or jeans and shirt and fleece shirt and wind parka and lightweight gloves, with no hat on. Wind means it's time for the puffy parka and head gear.

Tonight in the galley (cafeteria), I watched a documentary about four women who skied to the South Pole. Hard core. Similarly, I can feel myself get harder. Not hard enough to ski to the Pole, but certainly harder than I've been the last several years, which will come in handy as I work outside in the wind at 12,000 feet in a week or so. Resiliance and determination. It's a good thing. Tolerance and patience. Also good things. Both for working in the harsh physical conditions, and for working in a team. I like the toughening, and the softening. Both as a matter of survival, and enjoyment. For instance, plans here are subject to change, much moreso than in many other parts of the planet, due to weather. 'So,' I ask Phil, one of the PIs (Principal Investigators, or, more descriptively, people who wrote the grant proposal), 'do you think we'll go up to Fang on Thursday?' Fang is the acclimitization camp at 9,000 ft where we all must spend at least two nights before proceeded to our hut at 11,000 ft. 'It's only Monday,' says Phil. 'There are three days between now and then.' Plans are made and remade and unmade and made again and then the weather changes and plans are remade again. Today, a group of four was supposed to go out to start setting up one of the sites at 9:30 AM, departing by helicopter. The weather was such that the hilo pilots didn't want to fly to Erebus, so delayed departure until 1 PM, at which point the group did go out. But, as it turned out, the larger of the helicopers (the bus variety, as opposed to the sportscar variety--sorry I don't know the names yet) can't land at the desired site, so dropped off the human cargo a ways away and then came back to McMurdo to swap the equipment from the hold to a basket, went back to the site, and dropped the cargo for the scientists. Which means the scientists were stuck on the side of the volcano with no equipment, and thus nothing really to do, until the helicoptor got back. Such is fieldwork anywhere, and even moreso here.

Here I go off speiling. There's always too much to say. Especially if you love words as much as I do.

Alright, go check out another entry.

Posted by beth at November 25, 2002 11:34 AM


I just wanted you to know that I just got this website...from Steve....thanks, Steve!
Now that I have it, I will be endlessly harrassing you...Ah, the love!
I'm reading your entries backwards, hence my strange comments....
Just wanted you to know that I am finding it all oh-so-fascinating.
Thanks, Beth!

Posted by: Bridget at November 25, 2002 5:55 PM

Beth - I have a new routine every morning, after i check my vmail and email (have to do that first...it's my job)...I hop on line to see what Beth is up to. I am loving reading this stuff. Keep em coming. I am living vicariously! Happy Turkey Day!!!


Posted by: nancy at November 28, 2002 6:43 AM