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8 June, 1992

Monday, June 8, 1992:

Day Four of ICWI Recovery. Left with Vicky at 0815 to finish stoves. I guess Naomi couldn't get up. I can understand that! The landscape had changed drastically. The two generator houses at Northtown and Southtown, the shower (aka, redundant generator hut, if I didn't mention it before; showering requires earplugs!) and two CRREL huts were the only Windports still standing. There were eight of the Russian huts, fuel drums all over the place, in caches and in a number just free standing. There were piles of lumber, piles of trash, the waste bags and barrels being collected. Mmmmm, maybe we won't get out in four days after all. That's OK by me! I absolutely love it here. Other than missing my family, and now that I started to receive mail, I have no qualms about remaining here longer!! There are only about three more stoves (out of 35) to be disconnected and/or located. The last one we know of is in Jay Ardai's hut. Good news and bad news. While digging out the fuel barrel for this stove, I found one of the missing stoves and it was buried in only 5' of snow and frozen in only 2" of ice. That's the good news. The bad news, and here comes Murphy's Law into play again, the other missing stove has been located at the chopper pad, buried under at least 12' of snow and, rumor has it, that there was probably severe flooding there before the helo crew let it get buried. Great, that means more ice; probably LOTS!! Oh, Mr. Murphy hasn't stopped yet. It seems that since Jay was the American-on-camp-chief-type-honcho, his Russian hut had been enlarged. Unfortunately, in adding on the 5' room, the door to this room (hence to the outside) (sounds like the Italian guy who built the 4" wide boat in his basement that had a 3' door) was 8 cm narrower than the stove; so, out come the wrenches, great fun with gloves on, and we begin to dismantle at least the "snow room" on Jay's hut. Done with this stove - at least three hours later.

Off to the copter pad. The snow has been cleared from the stove box; but, the box was literally frozen in 5" of slush below which was 18" of solid ice. Marvelous!! The two guys who had dug out the snow and who were now working on the ice were Mike, a copter pilot from Alaska, and Tom, a helo mechanic from Georgia. Mike was rather smallish, a little taller than me; but Tom was like Man Mountain Dan. He was at least 300 lbs and stood about 6'4". A big old Georgia boy. Both were real nice guys and awesome workers. To compound the problem of stove removal was negative freeboard. That's where the ice, because of the heavy snow load, is below sea level. Therefore as we dug, the water (at -1.8 degrees) continued to run in and freeze. The temp is dropping rapidly, and to make things even more fun, the wind is plowing in at about 15 knots. We worked for about an hour before the skidoo came by to take us to lunch. I stayed behind in the field (if I went back, I'd fall asleep and miss some of the goings on!). I worked alone for an hour; then Mike and Tom returned. I had made some progress, but we had a lot more to do. After about an hour, we got the stove out; but we were now working in ice water 10" deep. As Tom and I started to move the stove and the 90 lbs of ice that was still frozen in it, I stepped back too far and went into a pool of ice water up to my waist. Tom grabbed me and pulled me out; then he slipped and I went for another swim! This time he used his brute strength to pull me and all of my wet gear out of the drink. I, very glad he was there; I doubt that I would have drowned; but getting out of that hole would have been interesting to say the least! Tom checked on my well being and then we both had a good laugh. He asked me if I was wet, I said yes, but no big deal. He then informed me I was going back to the Palmer to change; he sent Mike for a skidoo. I told him I was fine; but Tom felt that I should go back to the ship and that if I didn't, he would "step on me." Since he's 6'3", 300 lbs and I'm "penguin height", no problemo, I'm going. The skidoo arrived in a couple of minutes. I was wet but not cold. By the time we got back to the Palmer, I was chilled; Tom was right. As we pulled up, Bruce Huber, LDGO, and Kevin Wood, ASA, met me; they had been informed I was coming in. Bruce gave me advice: hot soup and hot shower. Kevin offered dry clothing if I was going back (absolutely!). (By the way, I'm fine; but these guys were right; I was CHILLED TO THE BONE.) I has three bowls of hot chili, Cajun style. Boy, that hit the spot; went to my room to change and pleasantly discovered a visitor waiting for me. It was Dr. Vladimir. He and a contingent of fellow Russians were touring our ship and brought him him Russian bread and wanted to know if I would trade with him. He needed shoes and all I had were my Danner boots, my Dexter deck shoes and a pair of new Nikes. Please note, the Dr. needed shoes-period; he wasn't concerned with "name brands." A lesson here.) He had about a size 10 foot so my size 8 was useless, I thought. His buddy translated. I showed him the Nikes and he wanted them. My guess is that he can sell them in St. Petersburg. He offered me a Russian watch, which I accepted gladly. He was thrilled. His buddy then showed me a pair of Russian boots size 11 or so. They were leather and fur. I wanted them; he wanted $50 USA, but I only had $20 in cash. No deal. Then another Russian came to my room with a bag of goodies, including a Russian hat. He wanted $25 USA but settled for my $20. At this point, there were deals going all around the ship. I thought it was interestingly funny trying to communicate with the Russians in English; but, the crew was even funnier. Most of the crew is Cajun; the sound of the Russian and the Cajun language being spoken together is something one has to hear to??appreciate??! A once in a lifetime experience.

Changed and back to work at camp. The flag lowering has been delayed until 1500, 9 June, 1992. We didn't make our deadline. I worked all afternoon with Helmut, a PH D candidate at LDGO, about 28 and from Germany; Javier, another PH D student also at LDGO, from Argentina; and Guy (pronounced Guee), a prof from LDGO with a heavy German accent, about 60 years young and one of hardest workers in the camp. The task of the afternoon was wood patrol. There was so much wood that a decision was made to make a snow pit and burn it. Originally, the Russians wanted it all because it's evidently a rare commodity to come by back home. Well, I guess there was too much so we burned sledge load after sledge load. Worked until 1750, ate, cleaned up and visited the Federov with my buddy Javier Through Egor I met Dr. Andre --- ? one of the Science Coordinators on the Federov and I had made arrangements to meet him at the gangway. We met and received an even better tour than the day before. First, through all the labs-some I had seen earlier; then into the Mill-8 (God, are they big!); and finally to the engine room. Their control panel system must have been at least 80' long and their four engines were immense. The noise level was far beyond comfort. A great tour; Andre said that if ever I got to Russia to look him up and he'd use his "influence" to get me around. It was now 0030 hrs and we were all tired. Said our goodbys and got to bed about 0100.

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