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1 November, 2003

Today was a day for rest and relaxation. We headed into McMurdo in the morning with snowmobiles laden with dirty laundry and researchers in need of showers. It was an incredibly cloudless, windless, and relatively warm day, one that made a compelling argument to forgo the showers and laundry for just a while and spend some time outdoors.

So, what is there to do outdoors in Antarctica (besides tag seals, of course)? McMurdo's Recreation Office has a gear room where you can rent cross country skis, boots, and poles, snowboards, packs, and even videos and music cd's (some people do their recreating indoors, apparently). Kelly and I rented cross-country skis and set off for the Cape Armitage Loop, a flagged track that takes you towards New Zealand's Scott Base.

Travel and personal safety are tightly monitored at McMurdo. In an environment such as this, it is important to tell someone where you are going. Before we could leave on our ski tour we had to check-out at the Fire Station and provide them with an expected time of return as well as the name and number of a local contact. You must check-in in person when you return to the station. Your return time is taken very seriously-if you are late or fail to check-in upon your return, a search group is mobilized within a very short time. In addition, anyone venturing past McMurdo is required to travel with at least one other person and each group must carry a radio.

Properly checked-out and equipped, we set forth for our tour. This may not be the earliest date I've every cross-country skied, but it's certainly close. In addition, it was certainly exciting to add another continent to my list of 'places I've skied'. This may be the most unique cross-country skiing I'll ever do-skiing on snow-covered ice that is 3 to 4 meters thick. Needless to say, it was an excellent way to spend a blue-sky Antarctic afternoon.

Daily Haiku:

Skiing over ice

Kick and glide across ocean

Antarctic sunshine

What a great day for cross-country skiing!

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