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31 October, 2001

Snow School, Day 2

Happy Halloween! No ghosts got us during the night, but I'll tell you, that wind howled like mad so I do think they were out there. By now you realize that we made it through the night safe and sound. I actually stayed much warmer than I thought I would. I took a fast walk just before going into the tent, put hand warmers down by my feet, and hugged a bottle of boiling water to me after I layed down. These tricks helped a lot, which is good, because the temperature went down to -20 C (-5 F). I did have trouble sleeping on the hard ground without a pillow, but it was actually better than standing out in the cold.

It's very strange to go to bed when the sun is still shining. I really had to keep tabs on my watch to know when to go to bed. By the time I did at 9:00, the sun was about like it is in the states at 3:00 in the afternoon. How wierd is that? I was so exhausted, though, it didn't keep me awake. Plus, I was snuggled so deep in my bag that I didn't see the light anyway. The best thing that happened (or should I say, didn't happen) is that I didn't have to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It's bad enough when you're all comfy and cozy in bed, let alone when the wind is howling and you KNOW how cold it is outside. So I'm glad I didn't have that Antarctic experience.

We got up about 7:00 in the morning and started up the stoves to get hot water for oatmeal. While it was heating, we took down the tents, which was a lot less work that putting them up. We were picked up by our instructirs and taken back to the canvas hut for hot chocolate and to learn how to use the field radios.

The radios look a lot like the ones you see in war movies that the soldiers carry. It's not complicated to use them. I got to call the communications office in McMurdo, and Lynn was able to talk to a friend at the South Pole. That was pretty neat!

Then we had to take our final exam (yes, even teachers have to take tests!). Our instructor pretended to be lost in a blizzard, and we had to rescue her. The tough part, though, was that we had to wear white buckets over our heads so that it would seem like a real blizzard. We only had a long rope to help us. But being the clever people that we are, we spread out along the rope, tied the rope to the hut, and then started walking until we literally ran into her. Not bad for greenhorns, huh?

Since we passed the test with flying colors, we loaded up all the gear and drove back to McMurdo, and I have to admit it was a sight for sore eyes. The first thing I did was flop down on my bed and enjoyed the comfort of a soft mattress and a warm room.

Good news! My suitcase finally arrived! Almost a week late, but better late than never! As I finish this journal, I look forward to a nice long night in bed. Tomorrow we are going to start organizing our equipment and gear. Sorry that I don't have any pictures for you today, but my camera froze (better it than me) and wouldn't work. I'm hoping this is just temporary.

One of our chores was to cut blocks of ice to build a wall. This protected us and our tents from the wind.

Walking to where we will set up camp.

Mount Erebus, the only active volcao in Antarctica. It hasn't erupted in modern times, but it does spew steam out the top. The continual steam venting keeps the pressure from building up inside the volcano.

Some of us slept in the smaller tents.

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