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1 January, 2003

Happy New Year!

It's hard to get used to typing 2003! We caught an early helo ride back to F6 from Lake Hoare today. Barry, our helo pilot, was friendly and a great sightseeing guide. We saw a "rock glacier", which was a new term for me. It looks and moves like a glacier, but it is made up entirely of rocks. We flew over a mountain that was covered with amazing ventifacts, the wind carved rocks. The whole mountainside was littered with these beautiful, reddish-brown works of natural art.

It was good to get back "home". We have spent the time today organizing the camp and cleaning up our gear. I also went back and added pictures to my December 27th journal, so check it out.

John, Karen and Pete put a portable flume in the Von Guerard Stream which flows by our tents. John and Pete shoveled sand and rocks to control the water flow. Their structure funneled the water through the flume. The instrument is standardized to measure the discharge, or flow, of the stream. They also had to use a level to be sure the flume was leveled before taking the measurement. We challenged each other to guess how many cubic feet per second the water was flowing. We all made a guess and then checked the chart. John and I estimated the closest. I guess the practice I've gotten fitting leftovers into Tupperware containers all these years has helped me estimate volumes!

Since we are using most of the day to get caught up on chores, I thought you might like to hear about the jobs we all pitch in to do at F6. Imagine stepping back in time to a pioneer cabin on the Midwestern plains and you will have an idea of life here. We do not have running water, so we take a huge pot (see the picture below) and carry it down to the lake. We chip big hunks of ice out of the lake with an ice ax and then carry it back to the hut. It's all pretty heavy, so it is usually a two person job. We start up the preway stove to melt the ice. There's a lot of grainy sediment in the water, but there is little or no bacteria, although we do filter it before using it for drinking water. The water off the preway stove is used to wash dishes and to fill the filtered "drinking water" containers. Filling those containers is another chore, as is filling the large "hand washing station" container. Now that the stream is flowing, we will be able to get water a little closer and a little easier. It makes me understand why the location of streams and lakes had a lot to do with where the pioneers built their cabins. I'm sure they also washed themselves and their clothes in those waterways, but we don't have that luxury here. THAT is what I miss the most. Staying reasonably hygienic is our greatest challenge!

In the evenings there are usually water samples to filter, algae samples to be stored away, and gear to organize, so those of us not working on those science jobs usually work on the meals. Everybody pitches in to clean up the dishes. Another chore is emptying the greywater bucket under the sink after doing the dishes. There is so much sand and sediment around the hut that the floor needs to be swept daily. Life is not easy at F6, but the team approach, and knowing it is not forever, makes it an experience I believe will enhance my appreciation for life at home!

1. The Kennedy Junior High School banner flying in

front of F6. Congratulations Ms. Pfaff for winning the design contest and thanks Mrs. Janis for the beautiful job sewing it! It got so windy a few minutes ago that I brought it inside to protect it.

2. The front of F6. You can see a lot of gear strewn

on the ground. Those are backpacks and sleep kits that belong to the "fungus group" who are staying across Lake Fryxell from us. Today they walked back across the glacier from the party at Lake Hoare last night, so we heloed their gear to our camp. We'll deliver it to them by snowmobile and sled later tonight. The logistics of moving people and gear around the valleys is pretty amazing.

3. The preway stove with the large water container on

it. The one on the floor to the left is the one we carry to collect ice and water from the lake. Notice the sink to the right of the preway. The two white Tupperware containers are for soap and rinse water and the large orange container is the hand washing station.

4. Karen is working in the lab. The glass domes off

her left shoulder are the filtering instruments we use when filtering our water samples.

5. This is looking down the entranceway toward the

outside door. Look at all the Big Reds, and then imagine what it was like when hundreds of them were hung up at mealtime everyday in McMurdo!

6. View of my front door with the Commonwealth

Glacier in the background. Notice that our tents are not only staked to the ground with large metal stakes, but they are also tied securely to large rocks.

7. Looking at the rear entrance and my "storage

porch". Check out the mountain view in this direction. It's truly awesome!

8. My cozy sleeping bag covered with the blanket

Mrs. Janis made for me. See my buddy, the chinstrap in the right corner? I have an idea for a name for him or her, but I'm waiting until school starts to give everyone a chance to make some suggestions. Any ideas? I've had a couple of really good ones, but my mind is not made up yet.

9. The other side of my tent. I'm using some

cardboard boxes to make shelves to help me organize my stuff.

10. John works to level the flume, while Pete

shovels dirt and stones to build a control to force the flow through the instrument.

11. Happy New Year from the bottom of the world! Good

thing gravity works! (Tee hee) That's me with the orange wig, and Thomas Nylen, the glaciologist, in the purple one with Canada Glacier in the background.

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