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23 August, 2001

Ice Liberty!

Today was a day of celebration. The US, Germany, and Sweden met up on the frozen Arctic Ocean and spent the day together in a celebration on the ice.

Germany's "Polarstern", Sweden's "Oden" and the US's "Healy"-3 unique icebreakers--- had planned for the last week to rendezvous on the ice today at noon. We met up and anchored along a good, solid piece of ice. When the Healy arrived, its brow (ladder) was set onto the floe and the call came for "ice liberty" to begin. We were free to disembark.

Scientists and crew from each ship immediately began to interact like old friends. The Swedish crew brought out their snowmobiles and the German's their kayak. Snowball fights and wrestling matches became entertainment, and soon a soccer game started (the US team didn't fare so well). Tug-of-war came later, and some brave souls even went for a dip in a melted pool of water. You can probably guess that this group didn't include me!

Along with the entertainment, each ship had an open house. I toured the Polarstern and the Oden and found them to be quite luxurious icebreakers. Each ship opened its store and sold t-shirts, patches, and other items. After several hours of these interactions, the Healy invited everyone on board for an American meal. Included in the feast were whole roasted pigs, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and of course--apple pie. This was served in the flight hanger where the helicopters are normally kept.

This international interaction was especially nice for me because a fellow TEA teacher, Dena Rosenberger, was on board the Oden. We immediately found each other and shared our experiences. She has been "on the ice" for 2 months and is heading home. She has had many exciting moments, including skiing "around the world" and fighting polar bears off of the Oden as she collected numerous types of scientific data. You can read her journals if you would like to learn more. They can be found at the TEA website (../).

Although the day was one of celebration, science wasn't completely lost. The last thing that we did before re-boarding the Healy was to have a rock exchange with the Polarstern. Our main mission together has been to collect rocks, and each of us has been most successful in this endeavor. The samples we recover are cut into two pieces-one half for us, one for the German scientists, and it was our first opportunity to have the exchange. This was accomplished via snowmobile and a human chain. The buckets and bags of rocks were passed along from the Polarstern and Healy. The party then officially ended as we reluctantly climbed up the brow back on the Healy. In a short while we were off and running to our next dredge site.

It was an incredibly unique moment in my life to meet people from different parts of the world on the frozen ocean near the North Pole. I will never forget this very special day.

Hauling the rock collected by the Polarstern onto the Healy was a big job. Everyone pitched in to make a human chain. <>

"Hutch", a Coast Guard Marine Science Technician, tries to ride his bike on the ice. He didn't have much luck. <>

Dena Rosenberger and I stand in front of the Oden and the Polarstern. We met through the TEA program last summer and were happy to be reunited on the ice.

The last ice-lovers reboarded the Healy at the end of the day.

Our first view as we pulled up to the ice floe for "ice liberty".

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