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4 January, 2003

Helo Ride and Lake Hoare

We packed all of our sleep kits and personal items onto the helicopter and I climbed aboard and waved good-bye to the rest of my team. They had decided to walk the glacier over to Lake Hoare today. I felt a little dizzy this morning. I think I may have let myself get a bit dehydrated, but felt it wasn't the day to test myself against the wilds of Antarctica.

Gifford, the helo tech I had met earlier, packed all of our gear and helped me get my helmet adjusted and hooked into the pilot's radio. After I was buckled in, the pilot gave me the safety talk about where the first aid kit and fire extinguishers are located. The rotor blades do not stop while we are on the ground being picked up, but just before lift off the engines rev for a few seconds and then up we go. It's such a spectacular view from the air. The bumpy permanent ice in the center of Lake Fryxell has a definite border with the smooth, yearly ice. Now there is also a growing moat at the edge of the lake where the ice is melting rapidly. The land looks flat and barren, but we flew over a Scott tent camp where my fellow TEA, Mary Ann DeMello, is camped with her team. The pilot flew to the south of Canada Glacier and banked the turn as we descended to Lake Hoare Camp. It is at least a three hour walk from F6, but only about a five minute helo ride.

I spent the day visiting with Rae Spain the camp manager, and Leslie Blank, the assistant camp manager. Rae has been in Antarctica for about twenty years and has been managing Lake Hoare Camp for five years. She runs the logistics for all of the field camps and keeps an eye out for all of the people here. She is an outstanding cook, so her reputation preceded her. She made paella with shrimp, sausage and chicken tonight. I am shocked at how well we have been eating out here in the valleys. Everyone I talked to before coming to the Dry Valleys told me not to miss a meal or party at Lake Hoare. And they were right!

Rae had gotten weathered in over New Year's, so Leslie cooked the meal for that party, and I had a chance to chat with her during that trip to the camp. Leslie, too, is a great cook and a very capable camp manager. Both women met and married their husbands in Antarctica. When I asked if that was an oddity, they proceeded to name several more couples who had done the same thing. Rae's husband is a carpenter in McMurdo, and Leslie's is a glaciologist in West Antarctica.

Yummy paella! We are eating well out here!

Rae Spain playing cribbage.

Leslie Blank on New Year's.

Guess who is a Green Bay fan? It drives Jen nuts to

not be able to watch the play-off games, but she is able to watch the score through the Internet.

The helo pilot from the back seat. You can see the F6

hut out the windshield as we lift off.

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