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2 January, 2003

January 2, 2003

24 Hours of Light

I awoke with a start and listened to the morning sounds as the camp awakened. I heard John unzipping his tent and the generator start to refresh our power supply. The door to the hut opened and closed a few times. I pictured the chemistry part of our team getting ready to set out for one of their streams. I knew Jen and I needed to get started early. Then I looked at my watch and saw it was 1:30! I couldn't believe I had overslept like that again--I wondered if I had dozed off after the other team left. I got myself dressed and walked up to the hut. There was no sign of John, Karen or Pete, so I started a pot of hot water for coffee and then went down to Jen's tent to wake her up. I called to Jen through her tent wall and she didn't wake easily, so I knocked on her tent flap and called louder. I said, "Jen, you aren't going to believe this, but it's 1:30 already!" She leaped up and I could hear her getting ready fast. I told her I'd have coffee ready for her when she got to the hut. I got breakfast ready and swept out the hut.

Jen and I looked at the maps for the day while we drank our coffee. We both felt it was very strange that the other half of our team would get up and leave without waking us. Stranger still was that Erin was scheduled to be heloed out from McMurdo at 9:30 this morning, and another helicopter had been scheduled for a little later. There was no way Jen and I would have slept through two helicopters landing a block from our tents! I got on the web to see if weather in McMurdo had grounded them, but all was clear there and the schedule had not been changed. I took the radio and called, "Krispy Kreme, (Karen's nickname) Krispy Kreme, Krispy Kreme, this is Stream Team Louise. Where are you all?" No answer. We began to seriously wonder what was going on. Where was our team? Where was Erin? How did we sleep through two helicopters? Were we suddenly in the Twilight Zone? Between sips of coffee, Jen glanced at her watch and suddenly threw her head back and burst out laughing. It was now 2:30 AM! It was funny enough that I had been fooled by the bright sunlight, but funnier still that I was able to accidentally suck her along with me in my fantasy. The bad news was, we now were wide awake, dressed for the day, and full of caffeine.

It turns out that the morning sounds I thought I had heard were actually the rest of the team going to bed. John heard me and thought I was sleep walking and talking. (So, John, you were just going to let me walk off into the night of Antarctica, alone and asleep??) I wonder if anyone was monitoring the radio and thinking who are those people up at 2:30 in the morning?

The lessons I learned: Always put on my glasses and check AM and PM on my watch before reacting to the time! But I learned a much more important lesson. In the same position Jen was in, how would you have reacted? Some people might have gotten mad at me for ruining a good night's sleep. Jen reacted with laughter. It has made a huge joke in our camp, and a story I will never forget!

P.S. Erin Van Matre arrived today, right on time by helo at 9:30 AM this morning! Welcome to the team, Erin. We're glad you are here.

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