8 December, 1996
Up at 6:00 again. It is a bright and clear and COLD day. After breakfast we ran samples again before 11 and then took an
hour break to go to church. I enjoyed the Christmas decorations. As I approached the Chapel in the Snows I wondered why there was an ambulance in front of it.
Several of the firemen were attending and they must leave the ambulance outside in case they get a call. We had gone to snow survival school with several firemen and it was nice to see them again.
Today is really hectic. Dr. Braaten seems a little stressed. He had a lot to pack and we really cannot help him with some things.
I walked to the post office and mailed a T-shirt and a calendar home. It really seems odd to be at the post office on a Sunday. They are closed
We went to "bag drag" today. This entails placing all our gear in two orange, canvas duffel bags. One is baggage and the other is classified as "hand carry" which means they get packed last. We put on the ECW gear we will be wearing on the plane and get weighed. They also weigh the other two bags. The baggage bag weighed 62 lb. That's heavy, but not over the 75lb limit. (I have taken so much gear down here that I really didn't need, but it was hard to know for )
They call it "bag drag" because you get all your gear on and have to go up the hill to the cargo area. You usually have to "drag" your bags if they are
heavy. I remember that the four people that flew into McMurdo with us were headed for the Pole and kept having to go to bag drag when their flights would be canceled. On one of the later ones, their "baggage" orange bag wasn't returned. You have to be prepared for that alternative and have your toiletries, and another set of clothes in your "carry on" bag
I plan to make both bags "baggage" and use my back pack as a hand carry.
Perhaps I can really keep it with me because it is small. That might not be possible because there are 35 people on the flight manifest. If New Zealanders fly also, it will really be a crowded plane.
Dinner was fantastic: snow crab and grilled steaks were the featured entrees. This was the first time we had to stand in a long line. I guess they were very popular! After dinner I went to the Sunday evening science lecture at 8:30PM. It was on penguins and presented by Jerry Kooyman and his son. It was a great talk. The male penguins fast 1115 days while incubating the eggs. Near the end they have to make the decision whether to continue with the egg or go to sea and feed in case the female doesn't return. They showed 2 short videos which were awesome. Jerry has studied seals and penguins in Antarctica since 1961 and is arcticulate and quick whited. His weathered face shows the effects of prolonged exposure to cold and sun.
I re-visit Matt Lazzara about 10PM to try to get the satellite information about the weather while we were camping on the ice. We knew there was a 3 day blizzard and already knew the wind velocity and temperatures for those three days. We just wanted to also see the satellite images. They are saved on a disk and I'll need to contact him when I get home to ftp the information to my computer.
We finish about 11:30 PM, but I am too wired to try to e-mail just now. Suruj, Jennifer and I decide to walk to hut point and see Scott's
hut again. Sure enough, there really is a mummified seal on the front porch. When I saw it several weeks ago, I thought I wasn't seeing right in the low light.
This evening it is bright and clear although VERY windy. We climb up another hill to see the Lady of the Snows shrine. It was build in memory of another sailor's death here at McMurdo. The wind really howled at the top of this hill. Now I can realize why McMurdo doesn't have much slow. It literally
blows away! We look for seals at the base of the hill where the ice meets Ross island and see one lone seal quite a way out. None of my friends would imagine that I'm out in the cold long beyond midnight. It is still so bright out! What a magnificent place this is. I don't know if I will ever be able to describe my experiences adequately. I have been so fortunate to get here and do research. This has been quite an adventure and I am glad that I "Dared to Venture".
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