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January 27, 2005

Ready to go North

I’m ready to go north. Ready ready ready ready ready ready ready ready ready ready ready to go north. North! Where things are green and living and breathing, where water falls from the sky and there are stars at night glistening from above. Where (if you’re in the right place) you can step outside in a t-shirt and shorts and not feel even a tad bit chilly. Chilly will no longer be a word in your vocabulary. Where food is good and fruit is plentiful. Vegetables, too. Leafy and green. Fresh. Where there are more than three types of bird, where birds sing rather than squawk. Where there are kittens and babies and sad-looking dogs and old women and, most importantly, kittens.

I am so very excitedly (and also somewhat apprehensively) looking forward to it.

Posted by beth at 4:32 AM | Comments (1)

January 19, 2005

Lake Hoare, Again

I'm in the field again! And loving it. The weather is fabulous and Lake Hoare is, as usual, fantastic. I love this camp. Can't help but think it's for lame reasons--it's comfortable--but it's for some good reasons, too. It's a beautiful place. Glacier, frozen lake, good people. It's a bit magical. The evening sun on the raw mountains.

I'm out until Saturday, and then in theory will go back in. Weather-dependent. Today was sunny and clear in McMurdo and here, but there was a low fog inbetween, so helicopter flights were limited. I was lucky to get out here.

Lucky indeed. I had a fantastic day walking around on Lake Hoare (trying not to fall through the surface ice to puddles melting out underneath) with my buddy Phil, measuring stakes in the ice to see how the lake ice moves around from year to year.

And now, sleep.


[Lake ice]

[Evening light at Lake Hoare]

Posted by beth at 10:22 AM | Comments (1)

January 16, 2005

Another Day

Another day at the office. Well, sort of. This morning, I made the second-to-last(?) trip to Erebus. It was just a quick trip; I ate breakfast, headed down to the office, hurried out of my office clothes and into my ECW, walked down to the helo hanger, weighed in, and was off. Gorgeous day. Flew with Jack, the head of the PHI (Petrolium Helicopters Incorporated) gang down here. On the way, we saw a bit of cloud cover. It looked at first like they were up against the shoulder of the mountain, but as we flew closer and higher it became apparent that they were flowing low over the peninsula on which we live. Flowing. Yes. Castle Rock, a prominant volcanic plug sticking up out of the snow on the peninsula, was just veiled by a flowing cap of moisture.

The picture wasn't taken from the best angle, but hopefully you can see what I'm talking about.

Three Sisters, our destination, was beautiful. Nice day for it. The equipment is on the lowest of the three main hills poking up from the ice in the center of the photo.

The work didn't take long. We came back to McMurdo, I carried my backpack the short distance up the hill to my office, changed out of my ECW into my 'street clothes' in the course of about 5 minutes, and here I was sitting at my computer as though I hadn't been out at all. It was strange. Actually, it was kind of fun. Like being superman or something. I was that, and now I'm this. And no one, to just look at me, would ever know.

Posted by beth at 10:39 PM | Comments (2)

January 15, 2005

Back from the Field

I made it back! I came in yesterday, after two days of hanging around in the jamesway (long structure with a curved roof commonly used for semi-permanent common areas down here, originally designed and used in the Korean War). It's nice to be back in town. The group out at Fryxell was great, though--young, very energetic and hospitable.

Mike Gooseff, the head PI on the project, took some photos that took me by surprise. I thought my hair was tucked into my coat on the second one, but it turns out it's just short.

Posted by beth at 3:55 AM

January 12, 2005

Still in the Field

Well, I'm still here. Not that that's a bad thing. I was supposed to fly out yesterday afternoon, but we were pretty socked in when we woke up yesterday, and not much changed except that it snowed lightly off and on. We were still able to get our work done, which was nice. Last night, after two long days, we were all exhausted. Today I feel more rested.

It's still somewhat cloudy, but it's also sunny. The sun shines on large patches, brightening up the landscape and intensifying the colors (or lack thereof): bright white, steel grey, brown, light blue.

Today, I think a walk around the lake sampling is in order. Although my work is done. The rest are either sampling the soils in the wetted zone, or the wet zone surrounding the lake (see below), or looking for future sample sites. The group is primarily looking at the biology (and biological influences on the whole ecosystem) of these wetted zones.

[Photo: Mike Gooseff]

I taught the group how to use our GPS equipment to map out the shoreline and the extent of the wetted zone, and to mark their sample locations.

I'm scheduled out at 6 PM tonight--we'll see how that goes. Looks doubtful right now, but a lot can change.

Posted by beth at 6:27 PM | Comments (2)

January 10, 2005

Back in the Field

I'm in the field! And on wireless.

I spent the day with Thomas Nyles, of Portland State University, on Commonwealth glacier. We installed GPS receivers on the glacier to measure the motion of the glacier over the course of a week or so. Thomas will retrieve the receivers next week, and we'll use the same ones on Taylor glacier to repeat a survey from earlier in the season.

[Thomas on the Commonwealth.]

We had a beautiful day. It's been mildly storming for about one week, and has finally let up to make way for some sunshine. Today was the first fly day since last Monday. Flights came in from and left for Christchurch, carrying a pile-up of people in and out, and folks like myself were ferried to and from the Valleys. I imagine there were flights to and from Pole, as well.

The storm left behind a light snow cover, which highlighted dikes in the mountains (to the left) and was scoured into the direction of the wind (to the right).

From the Commonwealth, I came to the camp at Lake Fryxell, one of the large lakes in Taylor valley (one of the Dry Valleys).

We were picked up in a Coast Guard dolphin. Sweet little helicopter. It afforded some nice views of the passing scenery. Or, really, of the scenery as we passed.

[Lake Fryxell’s lakeshore.]

I'm exhausted after a long day of walking over uneven rocky ground in plastic boots and through knee-deep snow drifts. I'm going to tent!

Posted by beth at 10:56 PM | Comments (5)

January 4, 2005

Happy New Hair!

On day 3 of the new year in McMurdo, I decided it was time for a change. Not because it's a new year, but because my hair acheived its highest state yet of rats nestness. The combination of the static and the dry and the fact that I am sometimes too lazy to comb my hair...for several days at a time...is not conducive to having and appreciating long, healthy, tangle-free hair.

So I decided to cut it.

And, since it's pretty long, and since I'm in Antarctica, and since I can, I decided to have at least 10 inches chopped off so the hair could be donated to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that coordinates the making and distributing of wigs made with human hair for children suffering from medical conditions which cause them to entirely lose their own hair. So, hopefully, someone who will appreciate and better take care of my hair will be wearing it someday. While I enjoy not having to deal with the tangles that come with the Antarctic summer.

I did sleep on the thought, long hair intact. But only because there were no time slots open yesterday with the hairdresser. Today, at 4:45, I sat in Anita's hair chair and she began to work on my hair. She began the detangling process (short today, since I showered and combed it last night) and took my hair in her fist. 'My goodness!' she exclaimed. 'I don't know how long it's been since I felt this much hair. I mean, I could see your hair and see that it's long, but--it's so dense!' It's true. I have a lot of hair. I inherited this from my mom.

'It's so dry down here, though, that it gets tangled too easily,' I said. She agreed. 'That's why,' I continued, 'I'm chopping it off.'

Anita stopped. 'Excuse me?'

'I'm chopping it off,' I said.

'You want a trim, you mean.'

'No, I want it gone. I want at least ten inches off, so I can give it away.'

'Oh, you want to do Locks of Love?' Anita pointed towards the ad on the door. She brighted up immediately. 'Well, you are wonderful. We can get two ponytails out of this...'

And that we did.

[Two ponytails on the counter.]

[Anita and me, after.]

Anita herself is getting a buzz today. That's right, a buzz. She set up a raffle for a tsumani relief fund--$5 a ticket for a chance to buzz the barber's hair. Over $400 were raised, and she is probably getting her new do as I write....

Posted by beth at 4:42 AM | Comments (8)