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13 December, 1999

Monday December 13, 1999

Well my adventure is rapidly coming to a close. I am suppose to start for Christchurch tomorrow, but that really does not seem likely since there have been various delays since last Thursday and right now it is snowing like crazy outside. So it will be one of those hurry up and wait scenarios until I am finally off continent.

I am ready to go home. The work has been hard and the days very very long, but I assure you it has been a labor of love. But I do miss my loved ones back home and want to be with them especially during this very special time of the year.

I believe I am one of the most fortunate men on earth to have been to this mystical place not once, but twice. I hope my journals have conveyed this message, but more importantly I hope these journals have served as a teaching tool. I hope I have shown how there is still a place on earth that is basically untouched and that Mother Nature is still in charge of. A place where man probably really doesn't belong and it takes the major part of his resources to get here and then to keep people safe and healthy while here. A place where cutting edge science takes place; some with no obvious practical goals in mind (pure science) and others with very critical goals in mind, investigating and "plugging" the ozone hole (applied science).

The enormity, the control that Mother Nature has, and the beauty of this place called Antarctica are what I love most. People have asked me how can there be beauty in a place where there is nothing. I guess "nothing" is in the eyes of the beholder. This great "empty" place is filled with many things for me. It is filled with a multitude of differing shades of whites and blues. Colors that also change as to wind blows and as the sun simply goes in counterclockwise circles above my head. It is filled with the beauty and mystery of rocks, the size of a man, that the wind has carved into graceful designs (like the ventifacts in the dry valleys). It is filled with the beauty and mystery of ice edge that stick out of the water 200' and another 1800' below and breaks off as giant floating ice-islands, often miles long and wide, which we call ice bergs. It the plethora of brightly colored macroscopic and microscopic organisms that fill the seas around Antarctica. It is the beauty and mostly the mystery of the algae and rotifers that make up and live in the alga mats in the lakes of the dry valleys (the coldest and driest desert on earth). It is the freshwater lakes that have 4 meters of ice on top and then at 60 or 70 meters below have water so salty that it prevents much of the energy that strikes it from above from leaving and results in a layer of water that is at 77oF. It is the penguins that seem to show up out of nowhere and can "fly" through the water. It is the fish that have antifreeze in their blood so that they can live in the super cold waters of the Southern Ocean. It is the bacteria and lichens that are found in and on the rocks and soil. It is not seeing stars for 6 months of the year and then never seeing the sun for the next six months and having your next "sunrise" or "sunset" six months way. It is knowing that I have left footprints where there never have been any before and probably will never be any again. I guess much of the beauty I see here is in the unknowns I find here. The more I know, the more I know there is so much more I need to know. (Does that make sense?)

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since I was last in Antarctica 7 1/2 years ago. I lost the love of my life (my Ingrid), three of my children have been married and I have gained two new "daughters" and a "son", and I have begun to rebuild my life much of which is centered around a very special lady named Darcy. What has not changed though is the beauty/mystery I find in Antarctica. Truly, at least in these humble eyes, the most magnificent place on earth.

It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve you all by being able to bring this amazing place to your classrooms and homes (Sort of like being your personal eyes and ears in a place that very few, if any, will ever have the opportunity to visit.) I hope you found these journals informative and interesting.

I must close now. But before I do I need to ask a favor. During the next week or two I will be sending a survey to each person on my mailing list. Would you please fill it out and send it to me at my home email sometime before the first of the year. I should take only a couple of minutes, but it is most important to me.


The purpose of this survey will be to see I how many people I have reached and shared my adventure with and to try and determine if my efforts were worthwhile.

On that note . I will say good bye from Antarctica. May you all have your special place on earth where Mother Nature is the boss and you are forced realize that you are only a very small part of a very big cosmos. It is a humbling experience and, speaking for myself, I know I need that.

Thanks for all your support have a great holiday season, enjoy life, carpe diem and peace.

Love to All,

Peter M. Amati, Jr. (O.A.E.)

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